Local contractor follows father's lead into family business

September 30, 2013 

Name: Josh McDermott

Job: General Business Manager, J.T. McDermott Remodeling Contractors at 7427 W. Main St. in Belleville (397-8701)

Outlook: "We are about long-term relationships."

Being named as one of Qualified Remodeling Magazine's Top 500 is just latest accolade for the folks at J.T. McDermott Remodeling Contractors in Belleville. The business has built its reputation on remodeling projects located throughout the metro area. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the business that Tim McDermott founded. His son, Josh McDermott, has taken a leadership role in the company and recently sat down with business writer Will Buss to talk about the remodeling business:

Q: What is your job?

A: "I oversee all of the day-to-day operations of McDermott Remodeling. I wear a lot of hats."

Q: How did the business get started?

A: "My dad founded the business. My dad started building houses in the mid '70s and he became a remodeler in the '80s after taking a couple years off to help my mom's medical practice get started and to take care of me. He had a partner, and that partner was Bob Foppe, and he retired in '93. That's when we became McDermott Remodeling. We're having our 20th anniversary, but we've got guys who are celebrating 25 years working with our company. So it goes back even further than that. We have two individuals who have been with us for 25 years....We started out of my parents' house. Our 'shop,' if you will, was my folks' garage, and we moved to 7301 (on West Main Street in Belleville) and that's where we were until 2004, 2005. Then we moved into this building. We remodeled it and bought this building. We have a showroom where the car port was and we can show some of our cabinetry line in there. I see that expanding throughout this building and on our property here to be able to give people more space to get exposed to our product. That is a big part of what we do."

Q: When did you get involved with the business?

A: "I worked during the summers when I was in high school and college pushing a broom and putting roofs on and just working in the field. I moved into more of an office role toward the end of my college years. I spent about six to eight months with the company after graduating from the University of Missouri-Columbia. I knew I always wanted to come back to the family business. That was the plan and where my heart is, but I also needed to go out and do my own thing, too. So I spent about six years in pharmaceutical sales and had always wanted to come back and knew after that time period that the pull was that strong. I spent a great time and had gained a lot of experience and was successful in that industry and very much enjoyed sales, and there's a big part of that here. I do get involved with sales here from time to time. So it was the right time for me and the right time for the company to come back. So I rejoined the company in 2010."

Q: Are any other family members involved in the business?

A: "Nope. Just my dad and I."

Q: What is the range of remodeling that your business provides?

A: "We do a wide range of services. We've got everything from a very large high-end kitchen remodeling in Edwardsville going on right now with appliances and sub-zero refrigerators, those sort of things. We also do commercial work. We did a project for Belleville Family Dentistry for Dr. Ed Miller. He's a small business owner, and we completely gutted his office. We shut it down for two weeks and worked around the clock and we had him back open. So we gutted the entire building and put it back together, for the most part, to where he could bring in income. We're very proud of those achievements. We also do a lot of service work, too. We've got one guy that just does handyman service and it keeps him busy year round. So we fix door knobs and just the little things that either busy professionals or older folks can't do."

Q: The business is involved in the community. Why is that important to you?

A: "Being able to give back to the community, it's as much of a reason to be in business. We live here. We work here. If you can't do that and you can't have the people you love around you and all of that kind of thing, it's not as worth it. Doing those things is really important to our business."

Q: What is your service area?

A: "We go as far as Ballwin, Mo. and Chesterfield, Mo. We don't get out there all that often, but we always have a project going on in St. Louis. We're about 75/25 on this side of the river. We also get to Madison County, Monroe County and Washington County, so we go within about an hour radius of here. There was a project that was very exciting that was a whole house remodeling in Fults, Ill. We put this large atrium in front of this house and blended it into the old structure. That was key for the client to not have it look monolithic or make it stick out like a sore thumb. When you're working with a house that was built in 1975 with brick that they don't make anymore, it makes it challenging, but exciting, and that's why we love the work that we do."

Q: What is on the horizon for the business?

A: "On the horizon, we have expanded what we can offer our clients by having two interior designers. We are the only remodeling firm in the metro area that offers that service. We have worked very hard and are still working to restructure our business to be able to get that service to more people. So we've increased our sales goals over the past year and we're meeting them this year, which is very exciting for us in the economy that we've had. In five years, we'd like to add another designer or an estimator. We have two designers and two estimators now. We'd also like to expand our showroom. We've got a lot behind us that has an acre on it. So we'd like to a better facility for storage of materials. We're also looking for a way to bring our design talent to our clients in ways that sometimes they don't think of. Perhaps they've spent time at Art on the Square and they bought a new piece home, and some of the things that they sell there they need some help in installing. Those are some aspects we're looking forward to."

Q: What do you enjoy most about your job?

A: "Solving problems. And I say 'problems' meaning there is a different issue that we have to contend with every day. We've got wonderful people that we work for in the community. So I enjoying solving problems and most importantly, I enjoy solving problems for the clients that we've built relationships with. There are people who have been our clients and now we are remodeling their kids' houses. Everyday there is something that as a team we need to work together and overcome. That's what I think as a company we enjoy most. That and relationships with employees and customers. We are about long-term relationships."

Contact reporter Will Buss at wbuss@bnd.com or 239-2526.

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