Dana Lark said she's happy with construction work on her East Naples home.
Yet it was other services PBS Construction offered that made her really pleased.
"They walked my dog, they fed my dog, and on top of everything the project turned out really beautiful," said Lark, who hired the Naples-based PBS in February to renovate two guest bedrooms and a bathroom at her Queens Park home.
She said the concierge service provided by PBS is what set the company apart.
Staring down the barrel at one of the worst economic crises since the Great Depression, Russell Budd and Bart Zino desperately started searching for a way to save the company Budd built from the ground up (Zino joined PBS in 1998). For more than two decades, PBS Construction thrived as a commercial contractor.
When the Great Recession hit in 2007-08, a loss of consumer confidence spread throughout the county like a wild fire propelled by the wind. Commercial construction prices plummeted, and so did the sales at PBS.
The company was forced to lay off employees, some of whom had worked at PBS for many years.
"When the real estate bubble burst, it affected everything," said Zino, PBS president.
"When we saw the commercial-side not coming back that's when we started recognizing that it was time to reposition ourselves. We've always been a people company, it was our customer's that led us to become concierge builders."
The new PBS business model would be centered on what they called, "extreme customer service." It is a unique cocktail of residential and commercial construction, with an emphasis on quality over quantity, combined with concierge services for their clients.
It's an odd spectacle indeed. On any given day, you can find the employees of PBS walking their clients' dogs — as they did Lark's — or running errands for them. The new PBS provides home-watch services, as well as an airport drop-off and pick-up.
The services have become so embedded into the company brand, that PBS has trademarked the slogan, "The Concierge Builder."
"This whole concierge concept came naturally, it was just an evolution of what we were already doing," Zino said. "The revelation came when we set up some clients to see their home for the very first time and there wasn't a roll of toilet paper in the house. That's not a construction service, that's a people service. We realized that we needed to do things that other construction companies don't normally do."
Now days, when PBS customers first walk into their homes, they are greeted with refrigerator full of food, flowers on the counter, their pool and cars cleaned, and ready-made bed with folded towels.
"What we strive for is anticipation of need," Russell said. "When we go into someone's home to renovate it, and it's about more than just the specifications for the project, it's about lifestyle, so it really fit for us to have that concierges approach.
"We just took the next logical step and asked the questions: How are they getting here? Do we need to pick them up? What do they need the first night?"
The new business model has proved successful. In 2010, PBS had profits of $3.5 million, and the company is projected to double that mark this year.
Russell and Budd are adamant that even though PBS has discovered a whole new clientele since the company reinvented itself in 2010, they are not "looking to become the biggest guy in town."
"We have limited resources and a small to medium-size general contractor," Zino said. "We like having control over what is going on. We don't take on every project. When a person says, 'PBS made me feel like their only customer,' I think, I need everyone of our customers to feel that way."
PBS now has a full-time staff of 15 employees, and hopes to expand its concierge services in the future. The company is currently working on a project at-cost for Grace Place in Golden Gates, a nonprofit neighborhood center that provides youth development programs for at-risk children.