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Pat Noonan has been building for over 20 years. And with more than 2,000 deck projects under his belt, it’s safe to say he’s one of the premier deck builders in the Twin Cities metro area. Noonan’s business, Deck and Basement Company, is family-owned and operated and has grown exponentially over the last 15 years. Starting with just him and his wife, Deck and Basement Company now employs five teams of builders and an office staff to support them.
We sat down with Noonan to discuss how he grew his small business to the juggernaut it is today. With Deck and Basement Company averaging four to six decks a week, we couldn’t wait to pick his brain.
(Pat Noonan) When I was 13 years old, I asked my dad, who was a contractor, to build me a skateboard ramp. He laughed and said it was the last thing I needed. I asked if I could do it myself. He scoffed and said, “Go for it.” I charged all my buddies $50 upfront, hired the neighbor with a pickup to haul supplies home, and built it. Then for spending money, I sold admission to ride it all summer long. I was a precocious kid.
He told me, “There is nothing that cannot be fixed if you are willing to admit a mistake.”
I cut my teeth framing houses – and loved it. But, after 10 years – and getting to the top of the heap – I was ready to move on. With rough framing, there is only so much you can achieve, create, and design. In the end, it got to be all about production, speed, cost. I needed more.
Yes, that’s correct. I got started with decks the same way I have learned to build everything I build for the first time: By having the confidence and courage to say, “I can build that” and then the ability to pull it off.
With over 25 years in this industry, I have built nearly everything, but my passion is decks. They’re clean and straightforward with minimal surprises. Plus, you’re not invading someone’s personal space. Taking the kitchen away from a family of five is much different than not being able to use the backyard for a week.
I think it boils down to the fact that I do what I say and say what I do. I don’t mislead – I don’t even sugar coat it.
Plus, I always try to remember that while this is a job to me, it’s a home to them. It can be hard to do sometimes, but the clients you want to work for will appreciate it in the end.
In 2014 it became apparent that we needed to have a focus on the office side of the business, if we were to grow to the next level. Even though my wife, Julie, has been a part of the business since day one, it became clear that if Julie left her successful career and came onboard fulltime to handle the business administration aspects of the business, the company could make it to the next level.
I’ve seen caustic people breed negativity within any team, regardless of how skilled they are. It’s integrity, work ethic, attitude, a desire to learn, and willingness to be a part of a team that are valued above experience and skills.
He tells me every time I see him how proud he is of me.
It is! And knowing I have a partner in a manufacturer that has my back – if ever needed – has been unbelievable. I’ve been installing AZEK®/TimberTech® since it launched. In fact, we installed the first AZEK deck in Minnesota ever and it has been our main synthetic product line since.
We felt it became a disservice to our clients to continue to install wood decking, with the composite technology advances and declining lifespan of wood decking – not to mention the cost of maintenance or replacement.
Frankly, we felt it became a disservice to our clients to continue to install wood decking, with the composite technology advances and declining lifespan of wood decking – not to mention the cost of maintenance or replacement!
I am always striving to be better; it’s that internal drive that has allowed me to reach where I am in my career today. I have never thought that I reached the pinnacle of my career with any project – there are always grander projects to tackle. That said, opening day at IBS 2019 (the International Builders’ Show) – after three months of blood, sweat, and tears – is probably the proudest moment of my career.
Open the virtual tour below to see a recent project by Pat and his team from the summer of 2019. You can also check out our recent blog on creating custom decks to learn more about how Pat put the project together.