“I became interested in the building business at an early age,” says Wade Garnett, owner of Garnett Construction LLC. “I started painting for a teacher in junior high school, and in the summers he would employ a friend of mine and me to paint, and along with painting comes repairing rotten wood.”
Following two summers of painting, Garnett began helping a custom builder with odds and ends during high school, along with taking architectural and drawing classes. He learned his way around and it’s been an evolution since.
Garnett went into engineering at the shipyard, and the construction business was something he did on the side for 24 years. If friends or family needed a roof built or an addition to the house, he would do it on “leisure” time. When there were foreclosures during the building boom from 1998 to 2002, he would buy one or two and work late into the night before returning to the shipyard the next morning.
“Of course, the first one was scary,” says Garnett. “But once people saw what I was doing, it snowballed.”
Garnett officially started his company in 2002 and retired from the shipyard in 2004, working long hours during the two-year transition.
Since that official start, Garnett Construction has grown from Garnett doing his own work to employing talented people to do home repairs or build a dream home or remodel and expand an existing home. “The kitchen has become the new family room,” Garnett says. “People gather there and often people want walls taken down.”
Garnett Construction recently was successful in the development of Osborn Landing in Seaford, a first for the company. That project has led to other business. One couple came to see the model home, loved it, but wanted waterside property. Within two months. they called Garnett, saying they had found the right location and wanted him to build their house.
“I try to be big enough to handle needs but small enough to do the jobs and oversee all progress,” Garnett says.
As business grew, Garnett found himself struggling to keep up with the day-to-day work on his own. He says, “Our phones started ringing and I was just out there.”
Garnett’s wife helps with special events, but in 2016, he added Nancy Trussell as marketing and project manager. Trussell says, “I was hired as the marketing manager, but as the role expanded, in the last six months I’ve been managing some projects. It’s really neat to be doing something I have a passion for. It was a mutual need that has worked well.”
As with any industry, the challenge is keeping up with the latest, ever-changing information. To accomplish this, Garnett tries to go to the Builders Show every year, an international convention for builders to take classes and stay current with codes and new appliances.
Garnett is also one of the few Aging-In-Place specialists in this area, keeping up with what people need as they age in their home. Trussell says, “More and more baby boomers want to stay in the homes that they love. When Wade makes the necessary renovations, they don’t have to leave and they love it.”
Garnett is involved with the Peninsula Housing Builders Association (PHBA). In 2016, Garnett Construction won nine PHBA awards and, in 2017, was the recipient of multiple Daily Press Choice Awards. The big milestone was being voted Builder of the Year in 2011. Garnett says, “We vote every year on who we think should be “Builder of the Year” and it was very humbling to have your peers do that.”
“On top of all of that, Wade has donated his time and energy to building a Habitat for Humanity home in Williamsburg,” says Trussell. This is the company’s second house with Habitat, completing one in 2012. Garnett sits on the Habitat board.
When Garnett isn’t investing in his company, continued education or community, he spends time with his family. “I like the water,” he says. “We go out on the boat with the family quite a bit. If it’s raining, I’m not sure we know what to do.”
Garnett has two daughters, ages 30 and 14, and his younger daughter plays volleyball, so they travel quite a bit. Garnett says, “The families we travel with are really great too, so it makes it fun.”
Garnett’s favorite part of the business is “Trying to put down on paper what the customer’s dreams are… and finally getting there and seeing the smiles on their faces.”
Trussell adds, “It’s making their dreams a reality.”
TO THE POINT:
Garnett Construction LLC
Address: 205 Shirley Rd., Seaford, VA 23696
Contact: Wade Garnett, Owner
Business: Construction and remodel