Five Questions: Ryan Newton
June 20, 2016
Ryan Newton, vice president of C.H. Newton Builders, discusses the importance of maintaining relationships with clients and their homes over the decades.
Text by Robert Kiener Photography by Kathleen Dooher
1. How does being the fourth generation to join your family company affect your outlook?
My great-grandfather started this business in 1958, with my grandmother, and the company has always had a strong family culture. I want to perpetuate that. This family-oriented culture also includes our employees and our clients. For example, our veteran craftsmen are training our younger craftsmen to keep traditional, often vanishing, building skills alive. That is invaluable. We also see our clients as part of our extended family. We have been working with many of them throughout several generations and have formed intimate relationships with them and their properties over more than half a century. That is a partnership I want to continue.
2. What questions should a client ask a prospective homebuilder?
Homeowners seem to want to ask first, “What is your price?” I think they should be thinking more along the lines of “How, specifically, are you going to get our project done?” This is more of a cost question than a price question, because the cost encompasses factors such as what kind of team do you have, what kind of partnership will you have with us, how are you going to streamline the project and minimize our headaches? For example, it is important to find out how a firm handles permitting, planning, and other preconstruction issues. Building a house can be such an emotional process that the last thing a client wants is any unpleasant surprises.
3. What are the special challenges of doing historical restoration and renovation work?
With historical restoration you never know what you are going to get. It is like an archeological dig when you start. Whether we are preserving or restoring or recreating, we always want to keep our work true to the historic feel of the house and not change too much. In New England, many older homes have small, boxy rooms on the first floor, and a lot of people want an open living plan that requires rearranging that first floor. It can be challenging to retain the look of a historic element while gaining the utility of modern living.
4. Why do you offer “estate care”?
Our Estate Care division covers a wide range of services, such as maintaining security and other home systems, winterization, pool and spa services, landscaping, and more. It is something my grandfather and father started to help clients take the worry out of home management. Last year ice damming was a huge problem, and we saved many clients from big insurance claims by bringing in a company that used steam units to melt the ice. We will respond to a security alarm and go along with the local police. We even have staff on call 24/7 to perform services such as picking up a client from an airport.
5. It sounds like you are developing relationships with your houses as well as clients?
Absolutely. In some cases we are working with the third and fourth generation of the same family in the home. Having this kind of history with a house is a unique scenario and a neat thing to be part of. In other cases, homes have changed ownership and we have maintained our relationship with the house and its new owners. There are practical advantages to having such knowledge of the property or house or estate and what quirks and nuances it has. Also, the house may have a rich history, and our account manager can tell the new owner the story. I remember how happy one set of new clients were when they were told the previous owners had purposely left a tree swing for them that had been there for decades.
C.H. Newton Builders, multiple locations, (508) 548-1353, chnewton.com