You know that saying, “When you love your job, you never have to work a day in your life”? Well, builder Jeff Wood is one of those guys who never goes to work, even though he’s on the job for about 10 hours every day.
“I pop up before the alarm goes off, which I never did when I worked in other jobs. Some people might even think I’m a workaholic. I never played sports as a child; I just always worked a lot. I like projects where I can stand back and say, ‘Look what I did,’ and have something to show for my efforts,” the owner of Jeff Wood Construction, LLC, declared.
At age 40, he is one of Lafayette’s new generation of young builders with a reputation for building quality homes.
“I like pretty much everything about building. I wouldn’t change jobs even if I could. In fact, I don’t think I could ever retire from building, although I might slow down one day.”
Wood was exposed to building through his father, who was in real estate and who also did some construction in Jeff’s home town of Morgan City. Jeff came to Lafayette to attend the University of Louisiana-Lafayette where his first job was cleaning up work sites for a local contractor. “Cleaning construction sites wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted to be in construction.”
He set his sights on becoming a builder himself someday, although he detoured into lawn and landscaping, owning Woods’ Grounds Management for a number of years. His dad encouraged him to work toward his dream and helped him get a jumpstart as a builder; Jeff started his Lafayette-based company in 2003 when he was 28.
Now Jeff Wood Construction builds an average of 10 homes a year, with the business being pretty evenly split between spec homes and presold homes. “Ten homes a year is a good pace for me. I’m at a comfortable level. I’m the main person in my company, and I’m at the job sites every day. I do the walk-throughs with the clients and the subs. I’m so used to doing everything myself that I’m afraid if I ever hired a superintendent, I’d ride around all day following him,” Wood said with a chuckle.
He’s used many of the same subcontractors for years. “I have a lot of really, really good people who work with me. They look out a lot for me, and I do the same for them. They take a lot of pride in their work, and I have respect and appreciation for them. They do really good work.” Using the same subs over and over “makes it easier for them and me. We know what to expect from each other.”
Reputation is paramount to Jeff Wood’s business. “My own reputation is really important to me, and I try for 100 percent positive feedback from all of my homebuyers. Everybody’s heard horror stories about builders who cheated customers or couldn’t meet expectations. I never want to be ‘that guy.’ I was brought up to believe that anything worth doing is worth doing right.”
Although he relies on word-of-mouth advertising, Wood participates in the Parade of Homes every year. “It’s an opportunity for people to see my product. I personally am there with my house. People can ask me questions directly.” According to Jeff, he gets new customers each year through exposure at the Parade of Homes.
Wood works to keep up with changing market conditions. “As styles and preferences change, I try to stay relevant. I have a decorator, Beckie Lagan, that I work with on each house to stay current.”
He also tells his realtor, Pam Bordelon of Van Eaton & Romero, to report both positive and negative feedback on his spec homes. The constructive criticism is more important, he said, so that he knows what homebuyers want or don’t want.
Interestingly, Wood has found success through cooperative competition by teaming up with four or five other builders with good reputations. They are in a group that meets for lunch regularly to talk about market trends. They even help each other by sending buyers to others’ homes if another home is a better fit for the customers’ needs. “I enjoy working with other builders,” he noted.
Wood cares deeply about the building industry and works to enhance the reputation of all builders as well as his own reputation. He’s been active in the Acadiana Home Builders Association (AHBA) since 2003 and has served nine years on its board of directors. He’s in his second year as an Acadiana representative for the Louisiana Home Builders Association.
He said he’s made a lot of valuable connections through his work with the home builders’ associations, and he plans to stay involved with their activities even when he “retires” one day.
Wood said he feels very fortunate to have a job he loves and has always felt a need to give back to the industry and to the community that has been so good to him. Building the 2010 Home for the Holidays was one way he felt he could give back to both.
(Home for the Holidays is an annual project of AHBA and KATC-TV3. Each year, a builder and associate members of AHBA build a brand new, state-of-the-art home which is given away in a raffle drawing right before Christmas. Proceeds from raffle ticket sales are dedicated to local, shelter-related charities.)
Yes, Jeff Wood loves building and the building industry and hopes never to “go to work” for decades to come!
You may contact Jeff Wood Construction, LLC, at 215 Darbonne Road, Lafayette LA 70508, or by phone (337) 319-1620 or by fax (337) 993-3092 or by visiting www.jeffwoodconstruction.com.