Brianna Johnston, co-owner of Ramsey Builders, LLC, recently sat down with OUTWORD.Today to discuss what makes her husband, Jeff Ramsey, the best remodeler around and why she thinks it so important to support LGBT companies and organizations.
Where did you each grow up?
I grew up in northern Chester County, and Jeff lived in West Chester. We both went to high school in West Chester, but we didn’t know each other then.
How did you meet?
We met through Jeff’s brother. We were all having drinks at Kildare’s in West Chester one night, and then we went out dancing, if you can imagine Jeff dancing. That’s all it took!
When did you open Ramsey Builders LLC and why?
Jeff worked as a lead carpenter for a home remodeling contractor. After the economic downturn, Jeff’s wages were cut. We had one kid already, with another on the way, and we needed to make more money. Jeff was able to find extra work on his own during the weekends, showing him that there was more work to be had. With only $200 in the bank, an old truck and some tools, Jeff quit his job and started Ramsey Builders. That was seven years ago.
Had you always wanted to open your own business?
Jeff’s father is a mechanic and inherited Ramsey Service Center out in Drexel Hill from his father. Jeff grew up working for the family business. He feels like owning his own business gives him more than just a paycheck. It’s an opportunity to create something bigger. I’ve joined him in the process.
What certifications do you hold in this field?
Jeff is a certified Kitchen and Bath Remodeler through the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. He is also certified through NARI in Green Remodeling and Universal Design.
Which are each of you responsible for within the organization?
Jeff is mostly out in the field. He handles design, estimates and supervises the jobs. I help Jeff with the remodeling, but my main responsibilities are keeping the books, paying taxes and handling payroll. This allows me to stay at home with my kids most days.
What is your favorite part about helping people remodel their homes?
Building a well designed and solidly built project that the homeowners didn’t know was possible.
Share a client story that stands out to you.
We built a universal design bathroom so that a client with MS could use the bathroom and bathe without the assistance of others. The bathroom was designed to accommodate and assist someone with a physical disability, but looked like any other really nice bathroom. The client was really happy and gained a lot of confidence.
What do you two do when you aren’t remodeling homes?
We have three young kids that keep us busy. We live next to French Creek State Park and are surrounded by forest, which keeps us busy hiking, especially Jeff. I am back in school trying to earn my degree in Accounting.
How do you get involved in your community?
Jeff and I are both big supporters of small businesses and local organizations and believe it is the most important way to support the community. Strong small businesses support a strong local economy. We use local suppliers and lumber yards instead of going to big box stores. Almost all of our food is from small, local farms. We are directing more of our advertising dollars locally as well, instead of giving the bulk of it to national companies like Angie’s List.
Something we’ve learned as small business owners and as consumers is that we can make a strong impact when we make careful choices about supporting our friends and neighbors with each dollar we spend. Our work and lives are enriched when we can support each other. We are also very active at our daughter’s school, and we are becoming more politically active at the local level.
Why is supporting the LGBT community so important to you?
Supporting the LGBT community is important to us, because it is important to our friends and our family members. Organizations like LGBT Equality Alliance and publications like OUTWORD are about bringing people together and creating a better future, and we love that.
Why did you decide to partner with OUTWORD.Today?
I kept coming across things that Rachel was doing with LGBT Equality Alliance in the Chester County area. I thought, here is someone who is getting really involved in making Chester County and the surrounding city suburbs a better place to live and work. So when Rachel started OUTWORD, I thought that was a great local publication to support while reaching potential customers at the same time.
What advice do you have for individuals or couples searching for a home remodeling company?
Make sure that you can trust your contractor and that you believe that they have your best interest at heart. Make sure the contractor is registered with the state of PA, has current liability insurance, and has workman’s comp insurance. Ask for references.
Which upgrades are most recommended to add value to homes?
Additions, kitchens, and bathrooms
Do you offer any initial consults for those interested in learning more?
Yes. During the initial estimate meeting, we typically run through design ideas, pros and cons of the construction process, and average or projected job costs. We state clearly that Ramsey Builders is a small company working one job at a time and that our primary focus is on craftsmanship and not selling as many jobs as possible. Good work takes time.
Describe your typical client.
The majority of our clients are married or coupled, with a middle-to-high income, in their mid-40s t0 60s. We love working with home buyers looking for kitchen or bathroom upgrades, couples looking to create their dream home, and those who are now empty-nesters and want to focus on themselves again, especially their comfort at home.
Why should people work with you? Why Jeff? What Rasmey Builders LLC?
Jeff is very experienced in all phases of the construction process. Jeff designs and actually builds the project himself. Almost all work is completed in-house without the use of subcontractors. We are fully insured with workman’s compensation insurance. We use professional grade materials supplied by local companies and not home centers. And most importantly, we guarantee that once you use us, you will want to refer us to your friends and family members.