Ron Nau and his son, Kyle Nau, never imagined they’d be working together in the building trade — or jointly celebrating Nau Builders’ 35th anniversary this year.
A pharmacist’s son, Ron said, “I didn’t want to be in doors all the time."
Ron said his friend’s mother was a contractor who was building four units by Windansea Beach. “She hired her son and me to do the tile work,” he said. “That’s how I got started.”
Of how he came to work with his dad at 7529 Draper Ave., Suite A, Kyle said, “I went off to college and was interested in the stock market and real estate development and only worked for him as a laborer.”
But then Kyle ran into the real estate slump of 2008, which led him to “help out in the office of my dad.”
“We had a really good working dynamic together: his old-school experience combined with my new-school practices and technology. He’s been good to work for because he’s always had an open-door policy on business. I learned from him how to handle [financial] situations much more readily than I would have working for anybody else.”
When asked what has changed most since he started out as a contractor in 1985, Ron said, “A lot of stuff started with a handshake. Now everything is contractual.”
Asked the same question, Kyle responded, “Information [then] wasn’t being shared digitally, but physically still.”
“Now we have tools that show 3D drawings, which helps consumers to visualize,” noted Ron adding his secret to success isn’t a secret at all.
“Number one is being open and honest,” he divulged. “If you’ve made a mistake, own up to it. Fix it and make it right.”
Kyle pointed out an important aspect of being in the building trade is “appeasing neighbors, making sure they’re happy. We send out letters to neighbors introducing our projects, so they have somebody to reach out to and they know somebody is looking out for their interests.”
A third member of the Nau team is Ron’s daughter, Bryn (Young) Nau of BYoung Design, who is studying to be an architect and has worked off and on over the years with her dad and brother. Bryn encouraged her family to make their 35th anniversary more than just a milestone.
“She reminded us it was time to do some new branding, that we needed to remind people that we’re here and we love what we do, and that we are honest and will listen to what they want,” said Ron.
Ron told Bryn, “Help us with remodeling and modernizing the office, getting some new shirts and logos and social media inserts.”
By Kyle’s recollection, he and his dad have worked on more than 120 projects together, typically 10-unit or less multi-family residential developments, which works out to about five or six projects a year.
One of the Nau’s favorite projects was Bird Rock Village, which was built in 1999.
The pair said the real estate market presently favors the building of accessory dwelling units (granny flats), which are becoming increasingly popular.
“I like the challenging ones,” said Ron of his favorite projects. “But I’m always relieved when they’re over.”
Asked if real estate development is a good field to get into, both men answered yes, unequivocally. However, Kyle noted the need for more people willing to get into the industry.
“It is really hard to find younger subcontractors now in the trades, there is a lack of young, qualified people,” said Kyle. “We need the younger generation to seek out the trades and fill those spots.”
Maybe Ron’s idea of work satisfaction will help:
“One of the most gratifying things about this business is you can go back later and say, ‘We did that. It’s concrete. It’s sitting there.’”
For more information about Nau Builders, visit naubuilders.com.