Home-building pros who stand the test of time

By Hawaii Renovation Posted in: DecorDesignTips

About half of all newly started companies survive five years or more, and only about one-third of them make it past 10 years.

Founded in 1990, Graham Builders celebrates its 25th anniversary this year after weathering building booms and busts over the years: the savings and loan crisis; the “Asian Contagion” financial crisis of 1997; the bursting of the dot-com bubble in 2000; the early-2000s’ energy crisis and sub-prime mortgage crisis that led to the Great Recession of 2007; and now the financial crisis in China.


But that’s what design-build companies like Graham Builders, who have been committed to quality and integrity from the start, are best at— rebuilding from the rubble to come up stronger and better than before.

It takes creative architectural designers and project coordinators to develop exciting and innovative designs. It takes highly skilled and dedicated field employees — from carpenters to masons to project managers — to put it all together, working with seasoned, professional sub-contractors. It takes building material suppliers to provide the highest quality materials and fixtures and back it up with great warranty service. And it takes an owner and management team that is dedicated to each homeowner — no matter how large or small the project — to make the building experience a complete success.

Danny Graham, owner and CEO of Graham Builders, recalls his early years in the business. “We always joked about our perfect timing in starting the company, just as the local economy and real estate started to tank! We figured there was no way to go but up, even if that meant a few nosedives along the way. You know the old adage: two steps forward, one, two or three steps backwards, and then forward again. Every gain we made was paid for, literally, in blood, sweat and tears…and dollars!”

Graham Builders always has focused on the residential market, doing both renovations and new homes, but the company also participated in the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) program for disadvantaged minority-owned businesses. “In Hawaii, being hapa-haole like me qualified Graham Builders as a disadvantaged minority-owned business!” said Graham. “I figured we could use all the help we could get!”

After graduating from the program, Graham Builders pivoted back to its roots — residential construction. “We actually never stopped doing residential work, even during the time we were heavily into the 8(a) program. We decided to refocus on what we did best; working with local families.”

“Over the past 25 years we’ve completed hundreds of projects, from kitchen and bath renovations to custom homes. Each one is special because each homeowner and each family is special. We realized that we don’t just build homes, we build relationships. It may sound like a cliché, but it’s true, and it’s who we really are. Even when we have challenges, people sense that we really do care about them as people first and that we’ll do whatever it takes make sure we complete their projects on a high note,” said Graham.

Graham Builders also pioneered building seminars in Hawaii to share the benefits of the design-build method. “We’ve presented our seminars to thousands of homeowners, teaching them how to get their projects started and what they need to do to protect their investment. Nearly everyone says they learned something extremely valuable and that they were glad they attended,” explained Graham.

Several employees have been with the company for many years, some for decades. “We’ve seen many of our employees’ families grow up over the years and some of their children even worked or currently work for the company. That’s one of the most satisfying things about working with each other; we’re really one big family.”

For the next generation at Graham Builders, the next quarter century lies ahead.

“We see the company continuing to achieve high marks in residential design-build,” said Graham. “We’re experiencing a housing crisis now; there aren’t enough houses to provide shelter for everyone who wants to call Hawaii home. Rebuilding and revitalizing neighborhoods to accommodate the next generation means there will be lots of work ahead for design-build companies like ours.”

GRAHAM BUILDERS
contact // 593-2808
web // grahambuilders.com