What started as a waterproofing and foundation repair company has expanded to include driveways, patios, piering and excavating. In 2003, The Basement Guys purchased Secrest Excavating, a company owned by Secrest's father, Bob, who now runs the excavation division.
"We were already his biggest customer, so it just made sense," Secrest says. "He didn't want to close the business, so this way we all get value from it."
By offering these additional services, the company has been able to do more work for past customers and expand its presence in the market, he says.
Besides bringing Bob Secrest onboard, the makeup of the company has also changed in other ways. Rehner sold his stake in the company to Secrest, but has stayed on board as the general manager and now runs the new Toledo office. Since then, Secrest's brother, Doug, has come in as installation manager and now owns half of the company.
One of the axioms of the construction business is that companies don't often go out of business because there's not enough work. The problem is managing that work. Often when companies grow quickly, quality suffers. Making sure that doesn't happen is a priority for The Basement Guys.
"We've worked very hard to put systems in place to establish a consistency of quality," Rehner says. "As long as people follow the system, we don't have any lapses in quality."
The company has its own specialized system for how they do every kind of work, Secrest says, so they prefer to hire people who do not have previous experience at another company.
"We don't want them coming in knowing some other way of doing it," he says. "It's easier to teach someone who doesn't know how to do the work than it is to undo the training they've gotten somewhere else."
Because they invest so much in systems and training, keeping employees is a priority. One advantage the company has over many contractors is that they are kept busy all year long, meaning no layoffs in the winter. When it's too cold to pour concrete, employees can be kept busy working on indoor waterproofing and repair projects.
"We keep our good employees because we have a good work environment," Secrest says. "We offer them the kind of things they can't find elsewhere, like health insurance and 401k."
Managing cash flow can also be an issue for many growing businesses, something Secrest and Rehner were quick to recognize.
"We know money is not our strongpoint," Secrest says. "So we brought in a very good CPA firm. They have audited us and told us where we're not making money."
By having a good knowledge of the dollars and cents, the company can keep a firm grasp on job costs.
"You have to know how much you need to make a profit," Rehner says. "It sounds obvious, but a lot of people just don't know. If you can't do it, hire a qualified person to handle it for you."
Once you know the costs of doing business, having a written business plan makes it easy to plan for future growth, Secrest says.
"When we're planning, we look at what is realistic based on past years' performance," he says. "We break it down based on number of jobs, leads and appointments.
"Because we know how many leads turn into appointments and how many appointments turn into jobs, we can figure out how much we have to spend in advertising and marketing."
The company has a two-year business plan, but they constantly revisit it to make sure it still makes sense.
"It's something you need to look at every day, every week, reading and rewriting as the year goes on," Rehner says.
As for the future, the company is at an important time in its growth, Secrest says.
"At this point, we have to decide if we're going to be one of the big fish in the industry," he says. "In the next five years, we should have enough locations to cover the entire state of Ohio."
Besides the Toledo office, the company plans to soon open a Cincinnati office and is looking at other markets for expansion in the region. And the company is in the process of moving out of its Columbus headquarters into a new 8,000 sq. ft. building with two acres of property.