One Stop Shop home plans, engineering and panelized homes. Making things easier for Owner Builders. Approved plans and matching panelized home kits.
Steve Tuma: I would say almost a hundred percent of our customers, they said, Steve, it’s the knowledge, the availability I feel comfortable. You guys are on top of it, I didn’t even realize how important it was.
Interviewer: Greetings everybody. Welcome to Episode 45 of the Panelized Prefab Kit Home Building Show. With me as always is the President and Founder of Landmark Home and Land Company, a company which has been helping people build their new homes where they want exactly as they want across the nation and worldwide since 1993, my friend, Steve Tuma. Steve, how is it going, buddy?
Steve Tuma: Hey, it’s another great day. We’ve been helping people just design more and more homes all for different purposes across the country, some main homes, some vacation homes, some retirement homes, sometimes first-time homes.
Interviewer: A company with a purpose. That’s good.
Steve Tuma: Right.
Interviewer: I’ve been to bring this up on a podcast before but I haven’t been to squeeze it in until today, and that is something Landmark is known as a one-stop shop when it comes to panelized home building. And I think our listeners who have been through the website and seen the various videos and et cetera might like to know just what one-stop shop actually means. So let’s kick it off there. Tell us what makes Landmark Home and Land Company a one-stop shop?
Steve Tuma: Well, it’s kind of interesting. We always do what we can to help customers out and help them through their project. And this was something that a customer labeled us 15 years ago. They said, Steve, this is great. Landmark Home and Land Company is a one-stop shop. I don’t have to deal with a bunch of people. I could just call you, email you, or text you and say, ‘Hey, this is what I want.’ And somehow it gets done. I guess what specifically works in our situation is that there situations where people will need an architect, the structural engineer, an electrical engineer, a plumbing designer, an HVAC designer, energy code people, green code people, someone to work with civil engineers, and a whole variety of different people. So what happens is how do you juggle all these people? How do you keep them in line?
Like one of the customers said, it’s kind of like chasing greased pigs. How do you do all this stuff? It’s like training monkeys. It’s like how do you keep10 people all set and moving forward? And that’s what they saw. It’s like, Steve, by calling you, we can just get everything done. I don’t have to deal with it. So a customer actually labeled us a one-stop shop and it kind of made – it kind of made sense. So we are able to solve the customer’s needs by taking care of a lot of aspects of the home design and panelization so that then they are able to go through and live their life, have their job, and do the elements that are important on site for the building of their project. So that’s the key element is we kind of work as a catch-all to be supportive for the customers. It’s pretty interesting.
Interviewer: So nuts and bolts break it down, how does that help me as an owner/builder?
Steve Tuma: How it helps you is you have one place to get support for your project. So a lot of people say, Well, that’s not a big deal. I’ll just call an architect then I’ll get a structural engineer then I’ll get an electrical designer then I’ll get a heating ventilating air conditioning designer then I’ll get a guy to do the gas pipes and I’ll just do this. And that sounds good but it’s not quite that easy.
Steve Tuma: Because there’s a level of knowledge that you need to get the job done, keeping the guys on schedule and attentive to the project and then working through the different situations that arise, and understanding them. So, someone might go through – a classic example that I see since energy codes are getting more and more common across the country is a lot of people will go through and say, Hey, my insulation has to be thicker up in the roof. So they figure, hey, that’s no big deal. But depending upon how your roof structure is put together, you may need more space.
Interviewer: Right. Right.
Steve Tuma: So suddenly, you can’t go sticking an R-48 typically in a 10-inch rafter. So you might have to have a different roof design or come up with a different situation or just have different structural members to have that all put together properly. So that’s where it comes together is the ability to coordinate it and understand it and ultimately be responsive and very supportive of our customer base because there is a lot of complex details out there. Building departments are tightening up where people are building. There are more and more interesting lots. It sometimes has different restrictions or requirements to them. So what it does is we become that kind of guru to them or if they need help, we will jump in and help them through the process. But we already have the system set up. We’ve been doing this since 1993. We have the system set up so we can just fill in. So it’s kind of a situation where in theory, someone could be a surgeon but are they going to be their own surgeon? Probably not. They are going to need help. Is everyone going to fix their own car? Is everyone going to paint their own house? What are people going to do?
By us being the one-stop shop, we are able to fill in the blanks so that the customer is able to work out the details on the site, take care of issues that they want design elements, closing on the land, working with the financing. But not just that, but also, living their own life. Going to their own job, having some time off, kind of be able to keep the project under control.
Steve Tuma: And a lot of that, we are just available and knowledgeable. We are proactive to help people.
Interviewer: Well, you mentioned the work guru and that’s kind of how I see Landmark in the overall way you guys help your customers. But how did that process – how long has it taken you to put that together where you can become that? What makes – to make yourself a one-stop shop, that had to have been a lot of trial and error, et cetera to get yourself to that point.
Steve Tuma: Well, it wasn’t necessarily a trial and error situation. It was something where we realized that hey, customers aren’t able to get the help. You would think that hey, if you call someone that’s in a certain discipline, they are going to call you back, take care of you, be reasonable.
Steve Tuma: Be knowledgeable, help you through the process. And even though that you would think that that’s the way it is, it doesn’t always help it much less, the information that you need to tie all these disciplines together, the architectural design, structural design, energy codes, and on and on. So it was something where we always listen to the customer and want to help them and understand what they need. And we got drawn into it because suddenly, it’s like, Hey, why can’t people get their energy codes? Hey, why can’t they get their heating and ventilating and air conditioning systems done? Why aren’t the contractors calling them back? Why isn’t the structural engineer working with them? And it’s basically we found that there was a need for people to be taken care of. And also, it kind of helps us because when we do it internally, we have control over this. If I need to get an answer on the size of a duct for a heating system to make a chase of a proper size within a home, I can do it. If a customer has a question, they can call. Chances are, we will have the answer right away. If not, we will get it. So it really becomes a customer support issue where we are able to be responsive and help a customer. So if a customer said, Hey, what about this? Or I need to change that. Or hey, we’re on site, what’s going on?
If they don’t understand something, we are able to help them through the process. So it was really based out of a desire to just make sure the customer is taken care of properly and also streamline our system so that we could have a complete set of plans that a customer can use to understand their project with their family, work through the building department permitting, work through inspections, and then also go through the actual building processes. And these plans, because they are accurate and complete, it allows people to better budget their project as well and schedule it. So it’s the kind of that homework that you do upfront to properly design your home, helps you schedule it, stay on budget, and work with people and keep the priorities of the project in place. It’s pretty interesting. Sometimes people say, Well, I just need my furnace design. Yeah, you do. But understand, if it’s designed right, how much it’s going to help you later through the project.
Steve Tuma: That’s a key element in it that people don’t always understand. It’s planning upfront so that when you are building, you are just building the home instead of making decisions and changes. Those changes during the building process will hurt your budget, they will hurt your schedule, and it will just make it a harder project. Our system makes it easier for people to control and understand their project.
Interviewer: Right. If you guys hear a phone going up, that’s Steve. His phone never stops. He is always busy.
Steve Tuma: Right.
Interviewer: Let’s talk about – I would imagine the one-stop shop concept also would make as an owner/builder would make my building process a lot more easy, seamless almost as far as designing plans, engineering, the actual building process.
Steve Tuma: Right. That’s exactly the situation. I kind of presented it on the way of how we help customers. But if you were looking at it as the customer that you are, you’ve got a job, you’ve got a family, you’ve got to take care of yourself, you need some relaxation time. There is just stuff that goes on in everyone’s life. Do you want to deal with 10 or 15 people to design your house or do you want to call one reliable person, get it done, get a straight answer quickly so that you can move on? So that’s what it does is it leverages our customer’s time to make sure that things are taken care of properly. So that’s a situation. So if someone were to say, Hey, what’s going on with this? Or, Hey, we decided to have a bigger window or can we do something – can we look mini-split heating systems instead of conventional HVAC systems? What are the differences? That’s what we are able to do and carry it through. So our customers have an understanding of what’s going on but we are able to provide the depth of knowledge in a proactive method to help them shorten the learning curve so that they have a full understanding. Now, that’s implying that someone hasn’t built before. We have a lot of customers do that. But we also work with a lot of people that develop properties, have built multiple homes with us. They help other family members or friends. So what it is is it’s kind of like having your own design and engineering department but not having to pay for it on payroll and it’s also an availability issue and a knowledge base.
Steve Tuma: So that’s the key is it’s a support system that gives our customers an understanding and control of the project.
Interviewer: I was just going to say that going back to the word guru, it’s like having that support system, a phone call away has got to really reassure the builder.
Steve Tuma: Right. And that’s the key thing we communicate with our customers. We let them know what’s going on. We say, Hey, this is happening. This is going on. We are at this stage of the design. We will need this from you and keep it going. And we’ve done a lot so we understand what customers need but that being said, if someone has some special need, they are in a different situation, we are more than happy to step up to the plate. Chances are, we’ve already done special request for someone else. So doing it for a newer customer or current customer, it’s not a big deal.
Interviewer: So there’s not much you haven’t seen yet.
Steve Tuma: Yeah. Now that I’ve said that, there are situations – there are always different selective enforcement as I call it by building departments or uniqueness in building site or special requirements or emerging technologies but the key to it is we have access to the information. If for some reason we don’t have the answer right off of our head, we’ve got a lot of projects going around the country and that gives us the depth of the knowledge is by having these different experiences and different places, the chances that a customer is going to run into something that we haven’t experienced is probably extremely limited. But even so, if it’s happening, we have the people that are on the frontlines taking care of engineering and all these different details to get answers and get it taken care of.
Interviewer: Right. Now, the Panelized Home Kit which I as a customer would purchase from Landmark including plans and everything that arrives on the truck, that kit is going to match the approved plans, right? I’m not going to have to upgrade the panel package later.
Steve Tuma: Right. And that’s a great point that you bring up because a lot of people automatically assume that if you buy something somewhere, it’s meant for their intended use.
Steve Tuma: Well, that’s not always the case. It’s kind of an interesting situation where you would think that hey, if someone is doing something, it’s going to fit the use. Well, I was actually in a building supply place once and they were selling what they called a handrail.
Steve Tuma: But it wasn’t – it didn’t meet the code. Now, it was a long stick. Yeah, you look at and go, Yeah, it’s fine. It was a quarter inch too small. Now, does the typical person think of that? Do they even know about it? Do the people at the store realize it? No. So you wouldn’t realize that, Hey, it’s got to be a certain size or it’s got to be supported certain ways or it’s got to be able to support a certain amount of weight. You would just never think that a product that didn’t make sense was sold in that way. And that’s what we do is we go through and when we do the design, the engineering, and all these details, we send the plans out. The plans get approved. We then build to that approved set of plans.
The point being is that even though it’s a national code that’s enforced selectively and per the particular situations at the site, there can be different interpretations by building departments on what they want. So if for some reason, a particular building department wants a couple other items in the structure, they tell us during the permitting stages, we add that to the plans, we go through and do it and include it as part of our package. We guarantee the cost and make sure that it will get through the building department. So that’s a key element. And what’s timely about this is normally, we didn’t hear a lot about this because we just thought, Hey, you do their job right. Well, just this last week, we had two people say, Hey, I just realized these other companies, they send me a house and I have to adapt it to the code. And I’m sitting here thinking, Well, that’s pretty strange. That puts the customer in an awkward position. So since 1993, we’ve been doing it that way to make sure that when someone has a home that they want that it’s designed and engineered and then the panel package comes out exactly to what was approved so it’s easier to build and easier for inspections to go through and get done.
Steve Tuma: That’s a key element to it that people don’t always realize is something that’s necessary. People know what they know. Well, we’ve been doing this since 1993, making sure that what’s planned is the panel package we delivered so inspections are there. So it just makes it smoother and easier. It makes the whole process better. We are in the business of making sure that the project is planned right to avoid unnecessary issues through the permitting and building phases.
Interviewer: Going back to the handrail and things like that, I mean it seems to me like you guys do so much work upfront that those little things aren’t going to happen or hopefully something like that isn’t going to happen. It’s that little garbage that seems to be what bogs down building projects.
Steve Tuma: Right. Sometimes the smaller things, now things occasionally come up, but again we are extremely supportive. We work with people through the process whether it’s an issue that has got to do with our system or just part of the building trades. We are always supportive of it. But you’re right. I mean just one little thing can create an issue.
Steve Tuma: So if we go off that handrail situation, if there is a hand – if someone were to buy a handrail from someplace that didn’t fit and they install it and the inspector comes out and says, Hey, what about this? Suddenly, they get to take it down and redo it. That’s wasted time. It’s wasted money and it’s aggravating.
Steve Tuma: So that’s what we are able to do is work all this all upfront so that our customers have the plans. They could review it with their subcontractors, building departments, general, whoever it is that they seem to be working with so that everyone is on the same page at the beginning of the project. And if there are issues, they can do it during the planning stages when everything is on paper. So a contractor could come through and say, Hey, I’d like to make this little adjustment. OK. We could do it on paper before it goes through permitting to make sure that everything is in process and then it’s just easier, because, Steve, Murphy’s law is alive and kicking.
Interviewer: Yeah, of course.
Steve Tuma: Problems like these don’t come up Monday at 9:00 o’clock. It’s always Friday at 4:58 when someone is like, Hey, wait! And by us doing the plans upfront suggesting our customers review with contractors, we are suggesting that people actually look at the plans. It sounds weird but there are a lot of times where contractors don’t look at the plans until they are sitting there on the site. They are like, Hey, what’s up with this? We are like, Well, that’s why we sent it out earlier. So we want to create an awareness and help the customer through the process so that everyone is understanding of what’s going on before they actually start digging and start nailing panel packages together. So it’s kind of helping the customers understand the road that they are going down. That’s the key essence to it.
Interviewer: Are there different levels of customer help that Landmark provides? I mean is everybody pretty much gets the same excellent treatment or …?
Steve Tuma: We all go through and do everything we can but different customers need different levels of help. So we are always available. We are always supportive whether someone is doing a basic lower cost home or a huge mansion. We are always available. We take care of our customers. It just really comes down to some customers have different levels of experience or some customers they may understand framing but they may not understand energy calculations or the HVAC system design. So if someone wants to get particular details, all of that is available. And the nice thing is, that’s just part of our service. We don’t go through and say, Well, Steve, you asked a question about your doorknob. It’s a $100 an hour. We don’t do that. It’s just part of taking care of our customer because we believe that the value is in supporting our customers so they understand what they are doing.
Steve Tuma: And we want to be available so that people aren’t embarrassed. They might ask 20 questions and our attitude is, Hey, if you have 20 more, let’s talk about it. Let’s help it. Because it helps them understand and get through the process and realize what they are doing.
Interviewer: I mean how long does it take you or Mike or whoever at Landmark picks up the phone for the first with a customer? How long does it take you to kind of be able to assess what that customer’s needs are going to be, the unique things that you might be able to provide to someone? Is that something you can pretty much figure out in the first conversation?
Steve Tuma: Well, we always know we are available. We have a full gamut of how we can help them. But yes, generally talking to people, people are very open. They are calling to want to get some help. They don’t always realize – they make call thinking, hey, panelized homes are what we do and it is, but they don’t always realize the planning, the engineering, all those steps upfront are equally or more important type of a situation. So through the conversation, we are able to just have a nice dialogue and exchange so that they are like, Hey, wow! Now, I understand. Or, Hey, I was looking for this. I didn’t realize there was a company like Landmark Home and Land Company. I didn’t realize this was available. So it’s an exchange that we have of getting to know each other.
A lot of people want to know about our company and we are happy to tell them about it but we are equally as intrigued knowing who our customers are to make sure that they understand what’s going on, so that they understand the scope of a project, the involvement, the type of work that will be, and the help that we do because sometimes people don’t always realize the amount of work that will need to go into a home. So we try to point it out to them so that people don’t kind of bite off more than they can chew. Now, all these people can work on the houses, some of them just need different levels of help or they will need different understandings of how to schedule or where to work through different things. So a lot of people will go through and say, Wow! It must be hard if someone is a first-time builder compare to having built five homes or a professional that builds two, three, four, five, ten homes a year. But everyone has their strengths and everyone has points where they need a little bit more help whether they are pro or first-time homebuilder. We can help either one of them. And it’s that clear communication. It’s enjoying our job and being supportive. And yes, we do want quality customers that intend on building a quality home. It is a lot of work. It’s a commitment. It’s a time commitment. It’s a financial commitment. It’s an effort but it’s really, really rewarding.
Interviewer: Right. Now, one of my pet peeves is when you call for service and you can’t – you go through your whole list of things that you’d like to have happened with this transaction and you have to talk to a completely differently person the next time you call and it’s like you have to start – it’s almost like starting from scratch with the next person that you are dealing with. So when I call Landmark as a customer, do I get one customer service person that I can go back to time and time again?
Steve Tuma: Yeah, and that’s the key thing. We set it up this way because I was always – it was hard when you go to a customer and you say or a company and you say, Hey, here is my problem. And they look at and they go, Oh, great. Let me hand you over to that person. And then you get to spend 20 minutes again bringing them up where they are like, Well, I’m not the right … and then 12 people later, you end up with someone that might pay attention and know what they are doing.
Interviewer: It drives me nuts. I hate it. I hate it.
Steve Tuma: Yeah. So what we do is initially, our customers will call in, talk to Mike. He will go through, work through the process, the understanding of what is – what the need, getting preliminary ideas. But once they are at a stage where they are ready to go, I work with them. I’ve worked with every single customer since 1993.
Interviewer: Oh wow!
Steve Tuma: To understand exactly what it is. So that’s the key. Someone could call up and say, Hey Steve, this is Joe. I’m over here. What’s going on here? Hey, can we change this? And I will have a very strong understanding of their particular product. So we can just get down to the point. It’s actually kind of funny because a customer may call in and we may talk for 2 minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes, whatever it is. A lot of it is 5, 10, 20% of it is talking about the project. The other is like, Hey, how are you doing? Is the project going well? Kind of us wanting to offer the help. So because we have an understanding of what people need, how they need in our support system, I think people will really, really appreciate that. And there was one particular customer, he is building a very large home in Phoenix. Before he decided to work with us, he said, Well, Steve, I got all these different people and this and this and that. And I said, Well, hey, call me if we can help. If you want to go work with your architect and all these different people, that’s fine. A year later and I think he told me a substantial amount of money, he had preliminary plans that we could have gotten done in a couple of weeks but he went through the back and forth and he said, Steve, I never realized what it was. He ended up working with us. We are currently going through the process and I said, Michael, what could have I told you upfront that we supply a complete service. We’ve been doing it – this is our system. And he goes, Steve, I totally believe what you said. I just didn’t realize it until I tried to juggle these 10 people myself that it’s just hard to do.
Steve Tuma: And that’s the interesting thing. Sometimes people don’t realize that customer service exists. Knowledgeable people that care exist. It’s just not out there in today’s world pretty much in a lot of industries, so they don’t believe that it’s there. But once they are there, I would say almost a hundred percent of our customers, they come in wanting to buy panelized homes but while we are there through the process, they said, Steve, it’s the knowledge, the availability. I feel comfortable. You guys are on top of it. You’re almost making me move faster. Because we are sitting here moving the project along. They said that’s the value. And I say, How can we tell customers that the value is being on top of it, being proactive, being available, being communicative. They said, Steve, I didn’t even realize how important it was. You could have put a red flashing neon sign in front of me and it doesn’t register. I’ve that so many times. So I guess this s my point to say, building a home is important. Panelized homes will help you. Our ability to design and support and kind of help you through the process I think is the real claim to fame that people don’t realize as something very important that they are going to need through the process. That’s what we do.
Interviewer: Well, awesome. I think we now have a better understanding of just what Landmark’s one-stop shop vibe is all about. So, very cool. Well, folks, that’s going to do it for us today. But before we head out, I want to as usual, give Steve a chance to tell all of you how best to get hold of the good people over at Landmark Home and Land Company. So Steve, take it away. Let us know.
Steve Landmark: The easiest way is to check out our website. It’s up 24 hours a day. It’s LHLC.com. That’s kind of the initials of Landmark Home and Land Company. It’s just LHLC.com. You can look at plans, see videos, listen to these podcasts. There are some discussions on on what we supply and how we do different things. You can submit and inquiry in the upper right corner. There’s an email tab. There’s also a phone number, 800-830-9788. And people can call and talk to Mike and whatever is easy for people. They can call us, text us, email us. We will do everything that we can. We understand the process that they are going through of trying to decide, hey, how do I build my house? And since we do do this differently, it’s – I think they find it to be interesting that we are able to take care of them. That’s – the key thing is check out our website. Give us a call. You can always email me directly at Landmark@LHLC.com. I’ll do whatever I can to help.
And then we are also on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube. We are out there. But bottom line is, we want to help people understand their project and have a good time designing and building it.
Interviewer: You mentioned texting just now. It looks like more and more businesses are having people contact them via text. That’s awesome. It’s great.
Steve Tuma: Well, it’s pretty cool. And once I get working with people, they have my direct cell phone. It’s the same number that my mom calls me up. So if they need something, I kind of have a general rule of thumb, if I’m awake, I answer the phone, because we realized that sometimes customers, the family get together on a Friday night or a Saturday morning or different times so we want to be available. And just the nature of anyone’s life today, they are busy. They are going to pick the kids up. They are going to work. They are on an airport. They are shopping. If there’s something that needs to be taken care of, we can do it. Just today, I was going lunch. A customer calls, have a little 5-minute conversation before I order food, we got him taken care of. So we are here to help people through and get them taken care of. And enjoy the process. We enjoy working with our customers and I believe that they really enjoy working with us as well. That’s very important to us.
Interviewer: And like your mom, they can call and just make sure you are eating right or …
Steve Tuma: Yeah, exactly. Hey, what’s happening? We get invited to so many housewarming parties.
Interviewer: Oh, that’s great.
Steve Tuma: Different cooking events or whatever that person is having. I wish that we could get to every one of them but it’s …
Interviewer: Yeah, a lot of travel.
Steve Tuma: You want to hear the most interesting one?
Steve Tuma: I’ve been asked to be best man in people’s weddings.
Steve Tuma: Isn’t that trippy? It’s like …
Interviewer: They must really like their house.
Steve Tuma: Yeah. And someone asked me, they said, Steve, what … they called me on a Tuesday and said, Hey, what are you doing this weekend? I said, Well, relaxing, catching up on sleep. They were like, Are you going to be my best man?
I did it. It was kind of …
Interviewer: That’s awesome.
Steve Tuma: It was kind of interesting. That was 20 some years ago and I still keep in touch with that …
Interviewer: That’s great. Fantastic.
Steve Tuma: Yeah, it’s …
Interviewer: That’s funny.
Steve Tuma: It’s interesting of how people remember us and we remember them.
Interviewer: Perfect. OK. So for Steve Tuma and myself and Steve’s lovely mom, we want to thank you all once again for listening in to the Panelized Prefab Kit Home Building Show. Happy building everyone and we will see you next time.
Steve Tuma: Have a great day.