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An Anniversary Letter to Our MainStreet Design Build Family

Mainstreet design build birmingham ownersIt’s hard to believe that Steve and I opened the doors to MainStreet 30 years ago. I can still remember Steve calling me and saying, “I want to open our own business. I think we can do this better. I want to make sure every single client loves the design and is happy after the construction and I know we can do that.” Honestly, I was flabbergasted. We were young and we were naïve. Both of those things were probably what gave us the ability to forge ahead. We started talking incessantly about what we envisioned for this company. We had to come up with a name, a logo, and quite frankly buy a desk!

It was so small at first. We knew the most important part, how to design and how to build. We had no idea how to find our clients. We started drawing and made our own brochures. We drove through neighborhoods and dropped them into mailboxes. We told everyone we knew that this was real. We were doing this, and it was going to be amazing. Well, it was … amazingly hard (haha)!

In the beginning, we took every single opportunity to work on any project. What became clear was that we had to specialize in what we knew best. Working from other architects’ plans and bidding projects that weren’t our own was not healthy. We had to stick to our vision. So that’s what we did. Initially, the jobs came to us from friends and family. Our very first addition was a recommendation from someone who knew someone. Steve introduced himself and knew we were the best fit for this family of five. They desperately needed more living and sleeping space. He designed a beautiful two-story rear addition on their Beverly Hills home, and he worked on the crew that built it too! Over the years, we came back for interior remodeling of their kitchen and first floor, and last year we designed a new front façade, porch, and living room addition. This is how we’ve built this business, through relationships.

As the company started to take off, adding employees was critical. We wanted everyone who joined MainStreet to have the same ideas, values, and vision that we had. Boy was that hard to find. For 30 years, that has been our goal. We’ve been so lucky to work alongside some incredibly talented women and men. Many of them have chosen to stay along for the ride and some have just stopped in to share their talents for a while. It really is kind of a miracle though that our very first employee, Dwain May, has been here nearly the whole time. We have watched him grow up to become an incredible man. He has honed his carpentry skills from ground zero, helped build our estimating system, managed much of our field, and now, he not only does that but runs his own workshop, “DwainStreet,” building all our custom built-ins and specialty cabinetry.

That’s what it has been like for 30 years. Getting to know our clients, finding an amazing team, and knowing that they are all now part of our family. Thirty years of growth and learning, but there have been huge challenges along the way too. Shocked and grief-stricken, we learned about the terror of 9/11 just two weeks after we moved across Birmingham to our home in the 555 Building. And we watched in awe and fright as General Motors declared bankruptcy during the 2008 recession. We’ve welcomed our own babies along with team members new little ones and prayed as some have had to bury family members. The 555 Building in Birmingham has been a good home to us for 20 of those years. After cleaning up from two catastrophic floods, we decided to hit the high ground in the North Tower just this year as much of the team worked from home and others masked trying to stay safe from Covid.

Frankly, it’s like the best roller coaster ride you could ever imagine. Throwing your hands in the air, screaming and laughing like little kids. But always getting back in line determined to do it over and over again.

Here’s to another 30 years of incredible architecture, fine craftsmanship, and lovely, lovely relationships. We could not have done this without any part of this family we have built from a phone call.

Christine Ramaekers

 

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