Anytime Contracting and Remodel LLC, a business built on friendship, communication and very late nights
In 2015, two lifelong friends with different backgrounds put their minds together and founded Anytime Contracting and Remodel LLC. Located in Woodinville, Washington, the company specializes in residential and retail renovations and remodels. With notable clients including MOD Pizza and the Redemption Church of Duvall, Washington, these two entrepreneurs are making their mark in Oregon and Washington.
Marcus James and Sean Ryan, Anytime Contracting and Remodel’s Managing Partners, first met as teens in 1998, and then became reacquainted in 2005 while working as security officers for Microsoft’s Redmond Woods Campus in Redmond, Washington. For both Marcus and Sean, the path to Anytime Contracting and Remodel was anything but ordinary.
Born in California, Marcus was introduced to the construction industry by his mother. In 1998, he moved with his mother to Washington, where she worked at a commercial glass company. When he was 14, he decided to move in with his father in Arizona. And while living with his father, Marcus chose to go into construction to find freedom and independence. “I started working in landscape construction when I was 14,” Marcus says. “One of my buddies at school said the company needed part-time help, so I started working two days a week. By the time I was 16, I was working 30 hours a week. I wanted my own money, and really, to be as independent as a 16-year-old could be.”
Over time, Marcus became very comfortable in the construction industry. “By the time I met Sean again at Microsoft, I had done everything there is to do in construction,” Marcus says. “But I needed a steadier job, which is why I went to work at Microsoft.” At the time, Sean was earning his B.S. in business from the University of Phoenix. He was working at Microsoft to pay for this education. “We got close at work and realized we worked well together,” Sean says. “I knew we would work together for a long time, but I didn’t know when or how.”
Eventually, they both left Microsoft and took divergent paths. Sean took a job at Comcast and earned his Project Management Certificate from the University of Washington and an MBA from Western Governors University. Meanwhile, Marcus got a job as a maintenance electrician on a nearby construction project.
“I interviewed for the construction job during my lunch break at Microsoft,” Marcus says. “And I rose through the ranks from maintenance electrician, to overseeing the demo crew, to be the superintendent in training. With that company, I worked on small restaurants and condo complexes, and started to understand the business of commercial construction.”
Unfortunately, Marcus eventually found himself looking for a new job. But one of his friends told him about a facilities manager position at the CrossPoint Church. He was hired soon after. “Working for the church was an eye-opening experience,” says Marcus. “We would hire general contractors to do some job, and I realized that they didn’t have the knowledge or experience I had. Sometimes, I had to teach them to do the work. I realized that I had the skills and experience to go out on my own.”
Fast forward to 2015, when Sean called Marcus out of the blue. “I called Marcus and told him that I had earned my MBA,” Sean says. “I wanted to see what he was doing.
So, he told me about his vision for creating a construction firm. I told him that I was willing to try anything.” “Anything,” it turned out, became Anytime Contracting and Remodel.
Building a Foundation
After getting a business license, the pair reached out to their contacts to find work. “The first year, we focused on growing our residential portfolio. We started with small remodels and upgrades,” Marcus says. “We also connected with a general contractor who was great at marketing and client relationships. She was great at getting the work, but couldn’t do the work. So, we chose to work with her. And, she chose to work with us because we could read the plans and do everything other than finding the jobs. It was a great relationship.”
But soon, it was time to grow to the next level. “We expanded our reach to include real estate agents, brokers and anyone else in the residential space,” says Sean, “and, we started working on small commercial projects.”
Marcus adds, “In the first six months, we couldn’t get bonds. So we did some small projects, including a barbershop and some small refreshes. But MOD Pizza changed all that.”
Pizza Saves the Day
For the uninitiated, MOD Pizza calls itself the “original superfast pizza experience—a pioneering fast-casual concept that puts the diner in the driver’s seat.” Based in Seattle, it is the nationwide pizza chain that gave Anytime Contracting and Remodel its first big shot.
“We made a bid on one small project for MOD Pizza at a local mall,” Marcus says. “We won the bid, which was great. It was a short project, and after it was all said and done, we moved on to the next project. Honestly, we didn’t think much of it.”
Sean adds, “We really didn’t think it would be the project that changed our lives.”
Even if Marcus and Sean didn’t think much about the project, the general contractor for the project did. “It turns out we had really impressed the GC,” says Marcus. “Six months later, we were asked to work on two additional MOD Pizza locations. And after that, we were asked to work on more! So, one small project became seven restaurant modifications. It has been great to see our business grow.” Marcus and Sean attribute MOD Pizza’s loyalty to two things: the ability to perform the work fast, and their finely honed attention to detail.
“We complete most of our work at night, so the restaurant or business can be operational during normal business hours,” Sean says. “We go in, get the job done right, clean up and get out before the sun comes up.”
But working at night has its own set of problems. For example, if the design or drawings are incorrect, there is typically no one to call at 1 a.m. Because of this, Marcus and Sean have developed excellent communication skills.
“Many times, the design on paper doesn’t translate to physical space,” Marcus says. He explains that on one of Anytime Contracting and Remodel’s first jobs, the client sent plans that didn’t quite fit the location. “On their plans, they wanted a chair rail around the store, with a wood plank behind it at seating level. However, the location had high-top chairs, so the chair rail they imagined wouldn’t work. So, I told the superintendent that I didn’t think the client would like the finished product.”
When the superintendent pushed back, Marcus was straightforward. “I told him that I wasn’t going to put it up. Ultimately, my job is to give quality work, and I knew the client wouldn’t be happy with that design.” In the end, Marcus came up with a plan. “I took a photo of the location and sent it to the client. I told them that I was reticent about the railing, but that I had an idea that would solve the problem. The client agreed to the design change and loved the finished product. Paper doesn’t often translate to physical space, which is why we need to be our client’s eyes and ears.”
Proper Planning Pays
The Anytime Contracting and Remodel process is simple: first, the team walks the location and takes measurements and photos of the work areas. “During the site walk, we’re able to visualize how the project will run, and what needs to change,” Marcus says. “The most common problem is space. If an electrician is going to rewire a ceiling, but a lift won’t fit in that area, we have to come up with another plan.” After looking at the designs, the Anytime Contracting and Remodel team sends the client a package containing photos, measurements, notes and potential problem areas. “But we always have solutions to problems,” Sean says. “We want everyone’s job to be easy because we usually have very tight deadlines.”
Marcus says, “Our job is to make our clients’ lives easier and to finish projects on time and on budget.” As a result, Marcus and Sean conscientiously continue to stay up late to make sure their clients can get right back to work when the sun rises in the morning.