How did I get back to the Tri-Cities and into the Construction industry?
We only lived in Yakima for a year and a half. Scott was asked to come home and take over a new farm that my dad and his partners were developing and needed a manager for, and I was pregnant with my first child! We moved back in 1998, just before Austin was born. I loved being a new mother to this amazing little person… but after almost a year, I got a little restless with being home all of the time …. and when my mother in law brought me a possible project to do some Interior Design Consulting for a new Custom home client, Gretl J. Crawford Interiors was born.
I wasn’t ready to have a real job, but my oldest sister, Heidi Nelson, had a small in-home daycare at her home, so eventually, I was working 2 days a week, if I had work to do, and Austin got to hang out with his cousins. As it happened, that original project not only started my design business but would also eventually lead to my getting into becoming the actual builder! As I stated earlier… watching, asking questions, and continual learning is how I have gotten where I am today. The relationship between the homeowner and the contractor had broken down.. they both needed help, so that is where I came in. I became the liaison between getting much-needed answers made by the homeowner so that the contractor could complete the home. After that job, I began regularly working for Spencer Kinney Construction as the Designer for their Spec homes, as well as working with their homeowners with selections.. and I started working for other homeowners and contractors, as well, but it was not long until the builder for Spencer Kinney offered me a job, but I was not ready to be tied to a job and was still enjoying motherhood. He was persistent, though, and asked me on what terms I WOULD consider working for him, so I gave him an offer that I did not think that he would agree to, but I was wrong! So… I began working 3 days a week for Spencer Kinney Construction alongside the builder, learning EVERYTHING that I could, making connections with subcontractors, forming relationships, learning the job costing and accounting side of construction, and dealing directly with Spencer Kinney’s Real Estate Division that they also had. I had my second son, Dillon, in 2000, and life was very busy, but I was content with spending lots of time with the boys, while working 3 days a week. I begin my first construction project on my own, for a new home for my young family in Pasco in 2002!
I had a good run with Spencer Kinney, even getting my real estate license, upon their urging, but all good things must come to an end, and they did, in 2003. I reverted back to doing Interior Design consulting and specifying for builders and individual clients, as well, and tried a little real estate sales, but being a Real Estate Agent is not for me. It actually worked out really well, as I was able to work from home, have the kids home with me and be there for them, AND work!
My second home construction project was for a good friend of mine, about 2005, just up the road from my new house, with my first Award Winning Parade home just down the road in the other direction in 2006!! My career as a home builder was off and running!
There are certain moments in life that shape our lives and shape who we are. I have a lot, as we all do, but during that time, one of the things that stood out to me was a comment from my neighbor at the time, who is also a prominent local builder. You see, I have always been very protective of my family, my time, and how I “Choose” to live my life. I admit that I am very blessed to be able to do that, and I attribute that to the MEN in my life: My hardworking husband and father. They have always given me roots, security, confidence, and freedom to be me, on my terms. While some men believed in me and built me up, there were others that were a little more vocal about not believing that I should be doing what I was doing and questioning it. That is where one of my “moments” came in: You see, my friend’s home that I built was just up from my new home, and my soon to be Parade home was also just down the street. My kids spent a lot of time on job sites with me. It was very common to see my children’s car seats on a job site with me, or on the floor covering store, or wherever my work may take me. So, when this Builder made the comment one day when I was walking past his house with my double stroller and 2 young boys to check on my friend’s house under construction, “That’s not something you see every day, a Contractor pushing a baby stroller”, followed up by something to the effect of “Do you have any idea what you are looking at up there?” Which I believe was a dig at the fact that I do not come from a construction background, that I did not start as a framer, or a finish contractor.. that I am not from a construction family, or have the background, that I had no idea what I was doing and should go back home and be a mom. Well, he may not have realized it at the time, but he had just cemented the fact that I not only was GOING to do it, but I would make sure that I learned and educated myself to the point that I would become as good of a builder as him, and anyone else in the Tri-Cities one day, and be a great mom for my boys at the SAME TIME! I thank him for that backhanded comment today. The truth is, I still don’t know everything, but I know enough to make me dangerous, and I know enough people that can fill in the cracks to do whatever I set my mind to.