(Sub) talent search

Working with subcontractors takes patience and the ability to respect choices you didn’t make.

  • February 25, 2013
  • Kristen Hampshire

Accomplishing the type of sophisticated landscape designs created by Reed Dillon & Associates requires a cast of talented tradespeople. Masons, carpenters, tile layers, sculptors – these players are subcontracted to fulfill niche skills for particular jobs.

Bringing on the best subcontractors takes some trial and error, says Reed Dillon, president of the Lawrence, Kan.-based firm. “You hire subcontractors to do a project, and if they do what they say they are going to do and listen to how you want it done, (you hire them again),” he says.

Dillon finds his craftspeople by asking vendors for referrals. And he retains top talent by respecting their skills. “You may disagree over a decision, but you always treat them with respect,” Dillon says. “People respond to the way in which they are treated.”

And as a small business owner, Dillon can appreciate the value of getting paid expeditiously, so he is careful to compensate subcontractors in a timely fashion. “I know what it is like to wait for a check, and these guys are working with much less cash flow than what we have,” Dillon says.

It’s worth pooling together subcontractors to form a team of top tradespeople so clients can rest assured that they’re getting a “package deal” when they hire Reed Dillon & Associates. Coordinating the moving parts of the project is why working with a design/build firm is beneficial to clients, and Dillon sells them on this aspect.

“Pulling together the different pieces of a project is a lot more work than most homeowners are prepared to do, and landscape design is a specialty niche,” he says. “We know the ins and outs…the codes. This experience is what we bring to the table.”


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