Rodney Holeman wasn’t looking to become a small-business owner after he was laid off from Boeing in 2002.
But that’s what he’s done, in a gradual process that started the year after leaving the aircraft manufacturer and going to work at Vern Classen Construction. That company morphed into Interior Trends in 2006, and Holeman has bought out its owners over the past two years.
“I’ve been enjoying it,” he said. “It’s been a challenge to see all the different aspects of running a small business, all the decisions that have to be made such as advertising and the administrative needs that I didn’t see before.”
Interior Trends specializes in remodeling kitchens and baths and window replacements. It’s done basement refinishes and other jobs as well through the years.
“We can do any kind of remodeling, we just don’t build new ones,” Holeman said.
Holeman worked as a machinist at Boeing for 30 years, but he also had experience remodeling homes with his father as a young man. He went to work for Vern Classen as a lead carpenter.
Classen and Shelly Rogers joined forces to start Interior Trends, and made Holeman production manager.
“I oversaw all the production after a job was sold,” he said. “I did a lot of hands on. They gave me responsibility like an owner of the company as the years progressed.”
The company now has 11 employees, including full-time carpenters and a designer. It also has longtime relationships with electricians, plumbers and other tradesmen in its role as a general contractor.
“We know all these people,” Holeman said. “We can stand behind them. We know the homeowner’s in safe hands.”
Currently, remodeling features such as granite countertops, tile backsplashes and new flooring are in demand. Although most of the company’s business is on single-family homes, it’s worked on upgrades in kitchens installed in the WaterWalk condos, and also won awards from judges in the Parade of Homes tour.
Classen is continuing with the company in a lesser role so that he can devote more time to hobbies and charities.
By the time Classen and Rogers were ready to give up control of the company, Holeman said, he’d come to view it as more than just a business.
“I classify our employees as family, even though we’re not related,” he said. “I didn’t want to see everybody lose their jobs.”