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Builder Ranks in Big 50

Home Equity Builders is an award-winning company that values quality in many forms.

Home Equity Builders in Great Falls has won nearly every industry award for remodelers over the years. Although owner Jeff Rainey is proud of the professional accolades, he is most pleased with the quality of life he’s able to provide for the employees of HEB.

“We’re not out to be a $25 million remodeling company. We want to provide good service and quality workmanship. And, we want our employees to have a good family life,” said Rainey.

HEB, which specializes in kitchen and bathroom remodeling, has been operating in Great Falls since 1988. It also offers handyman services at an hourly rate.

HEB was recently selected by Remodeling magazine as a winner of the 2004 Big 50 award, the Academy Awards for remodelers, according to Rainey. That’s a feat for a company that does only 25 jobs a year. The Big 50 award is given to companies that not only demonstrate professional acumen but also give back to the community they operate in.

“I’m a firm believer in giving back both to the field I work in and the community,” said Rainey. “We want to continue to do quality work and to be a part of the growth of the Great Falls community. I think it’s important for the businesses to support the community and the community to support the businesses. We want to keep Great Falls from being commercialized and preserve the beauty of it,” said Rainey.

Rainey is involved in several community activities and is a familiar face around Great Falls. He’s a member of the Great Falls Historical Society, helps fund the annual fireworks, is a member of the Great Falls Business Professional Association and volunteers with several other organizations.

Along with his wife, Sharon, he owns FYINetwork, an Internet-based community network and referral service. “We believe in giving back. Sharon and I feel very strong about that. I don’t know the exact dollar and cents amount, but we give a lot back,” said Rainey.

FYINetwork is located in the HEB offices at the Great Falls Village Center. Sharon Rainey is in control of the handyman scheduling at HEB. Working so closely together, said Rainey, is welcomed by both of them. “We spend 98 percent of our time together. That’s unusual. We both got to see a dream coming together with a friend and a partner.”

A typical kitchen remodeling job for HEB is in the $75,000 to $100,000 range. Bathroom remodels range between $55,000 and $100,000. “We provide high-quality service and high-quality professional craftsmanship,” said Rainey.

Being located in Great Falls, where many of his jobs take place, has been fortuitous for HEB. “I feel very fortunate to work in Great Falls. It gives my company and personnel the opportunity to do quality work. We get very few tire-kickers around here,” said Rainey.

HEB did Cathy Owens’ kitchen remodeling last year. “The thing I was most happy about was how timely they did it. We planned it, planned it well, and then he did it in a timely manner. You know, the kitchen is the command center of the house. When it’s not working, nothing is working in the house. He had people that came in consecutively and got things done. If memory serves me correctly, it was something like six weeks to complete. It could have been a nightmare. I’ve had friends have it be a six-month process,” said Owens.

SHE SAID RAINEY was also able to keep her from going overboard in the remodeling. “I felt they listened well to what my requirements were. He seemed knowledgeable about what the costs were and did a pretty good job of keeping me in line with costs as we went along,” said Owens.

Homeowner David Naise has been working with HEB since the late 80’s on a variety of remodeling projects. “We have a trusted relationship. I can turn over the keys to Jeff and he, and his people, will take care of things. He has a focus on his customers. He has just been faithful to his customers,” said Naise.

“They do real quality work. He’s been able to make use of his own people and bring in specialty people to do basically anything I want,” Naise said.

Quality is paramount to Rainey, who has structured his company so that clients and employees alike benefit from the work being done. Rainey created a set of core values for HEB that exemplify his commitment to providing value. Examples of this include paying for continuing education of employees, maintaining open-book accounting for all employees and 30 days or less payment to subcontractors and suppliers. One bullet of the company’s core values reads: “All personnel approach every task with a ‘can do’ attitude, working on the solution and not staying in the problem.”

Pat Mullen has been with HEB for 13 years as a project manager. “The client works through me, it saves red tape. We’ve got a division thing going on that we started last year. It allows us to focus on one area and not bounce back and forth between jobs,” said Mullen.

Mullen is aligned with Rainey’s mantra that HEB’s success is due to the quality of work the company does. “The job will be done correctly, above the normal standard. We don’t sell ourselves as the low-bidder. We’re about quality. It may cost a bit more from that standpoint but there’s a market for that. A lot of people don’t want the cheapest product,” Mullen said.

The balance between a professional life and a home life is important to Rainey, so important that HEB employees do not work on the weekends. “We want our employees to have a good family life. We don’t work weekends or do overtime. We don’t allow people to put us in that position,” said Rainey.

He learned personally how taxing long hours could be when he started out working for the county years ago. “When I worked for the county, I worked every weekend and every holiday. It was a difficult and stressful thing to do,” Rainey said. In the 1970s Rainey was on the restoration crew at Sully Mill, Dranesville Tavern and Colvin Mill. It was as the historic site manager for Colvin Mill that he experienced protracted work weeks that eroded his time with family and friends.

When he can, Rainey likes to enjoy his favorite sport — fly fishing. With his business in a successful momentum and several employees on the payroll, he has some time. Free time, however, is often spent in the community doing volunteer work, or with his wife and son, which is where Rainey prefers to be.