Garland Sullivan, Garland Sullivan Company
Garland Sullivan, owner and licensed general contractor for Garland Sullivan Company, was drawn to the business 30 years ago because, he says, “I enjoy working in the field and with people on a daily basis. It’s something new every day.” Sullivan’s company motto is “Design. Build.” He says this concept contributes to his success. “We do a lot of our own in-house design work. Spending time for the customer and designer and contractor to meet together is very important — being very hands on is the biggest contributor.”
Q: What factors contribute most to your success as a General Contractor?
A: Start with proper staff, good design, and a willing customer.
Q: What is one of the most expensive and challenging home issues you’ve helped remedy?
A: Recently it’s been the reconstruction of an 1850s-era Italian villa — Annesdale Mansion on Lamar. It had all of the things that are apparent in a big, old house. In general, planning for the homeowner to ensure they get what they want for the amount of money they want to spend. In this field everything is negotiated and planned to a budget. There’s no busy work; everything is intentional and planned out.
Q: How would you advise a homeowner to prevent or avoid problems?
A: Incorporating the builder, making the time to plan beforehand what you’re wanting to accomplish, and setting a budget. Constant communication with the homeowner is key. Spend time together [discussing plans], even as much as a phone call every day — whatever it takes to make sure their vision is being executed on their budget. Certainly meet every time money changes hands. Homeowners, be a part of your project as much as anyone.
Q: What’s the most valuable tool for a general contractor? And the most popular product?
A: A good tape measure and a good level — in that order. My choice would be a Stanley FatMax tape measure, and I suggest you buy two. This tool is instrumental in every area from foundation layout to what size your new rug needs to be. [As for products,] the thing homeowners most frequently ask about in this field is efficiency in the home — lower utilities and general efficiency overall. The smart customers ask for an efficient layout and the best product that will ensure long-term, carefree usage. The less thoughtful ask for more space and a cheap solution. A large part of my job is education.
Q: What should consumers look for when selecting home service providers to assist with projects in your field of expertise?
A: An experienced contractor who can provide a long list of good references. Practice due diligence. That doesn’t necessarily mean getting three bids, but get out there and see who’s doing the best work. The best recommendation is word of mouth.