Architectural services, interior design and full construction from start to finish. In this edition of the “People Behind the Projects Series” we talk with Roger MacPherson of MacPherson Construction & Design to talk about the insights and culture behind successful homebuilding and what sets his company apart from the competition.
How did MacPherson Construction & Design get its start?
That’s kind of a funny story. I never intended to own a construction design firm. I just knew architects and contractors don’t always see eye to eye. So, I decided to go to work for a contractor right after getting my architecture degrees. I was a total mess but a fast learner. After just a couple months I took over running a framing crew and started building my own home. A few people asked if I could help them, I said yes, and our company came into existence 11 months after graduating, way back in 1982. So, we are 35 years old now.
Do you have a company mission or vision?
When I first started MacPherson Construction & Design, my accountant told me to be successful in this business, you need to offer 3 things: Quality, Service and Price. I’ve applied these 3 requirements for every vendor we use.
What sets your company apart from the competition?
Our company is very unique in the industry because we offer architectural services, interior design and full construction from start to finish. Many companies sub these trades out, but we are all in house. We also use some fantastic 3D software. Our team is as strong as it’s ever been. The majority have been with MacPherson Construction & Design for over 20 years.
You are recognized as a high-end luxury home builder. What are your clients typically looking for in a home?
You know, most every client is different and has a vision. Our goal is to make their dream a reality. This takes a lot of listening and communication. As we go through the process, there is a tremendous amount of educating of the client. This goes from advice on products, to understanding costs.
What are some trends you're seeing in the industry?
We do almost every style of architecture. I do see a more contemporary trend right now. Of the homes we have underway, a few are Modern Farmhouses, a couple are Northwest Contemporary and one Flat Roof Modern.
How did you approach this project? What was the concept and inspiration behind it?
When I meet with a client for the first time, I try to get their mile-high vision. How big, general budget, which floors have what rooms. Since so many of our homes are waterfront, prioritizing the view rooms seems critical. Spatially I tend to design from the inside out. Where I have a general vision of the look and feel. In other words, the form will follow the function, rather than designing an iconic, yet non-functional home. We are extremely lucky to start from scratch, so we get a chance to see our vision become reality.
Have you received industry recognition for your work?
There used to be a local home tour called the “Seattle Street of Dreams.” We participated in 5 of those over the years. It was a tour where upwards of 100,000 people would see our work. I think a lot of people remember those homes. The public used to vote on Best Craftsmanship, Best Design, etc. We always seemed to do well in those shows.
Does any particular award stand out for you? Why does it stand out?
Awards are great but being in the business for 35 years building our resume is not that important. I think one of the more rewarding experiences that did stand out was 2 Mercer Island waterfront homes that were featured on the televisions as we built them. We made our own tour and accessorized them with art from Pratt Fine Art Center, (an art school in Seattle) and we raised $85,000 for the non-profit.
What keeps you motivated? Do you have a personal mantra or motto that you use in your career?
I like to think of myself as a golden retriever, I am a people pleaser and I think that our team performs best when praised for our efforts. Money truly isn’t the driver. I’d say compliments and cookies go the furthest.
What advice would you give to builders today?
Being a custom builder is hard work. Dealing with all kinds of personalities from clients to subcontractors is not easy. If I had one piece of advice, it probably would be to be honest. Communicate the problems and costs early rather than late.
What are your goals for the coming year?
We are blessed with still having a wonderful pipeline of incredible projects we are working on. We always try our hardest, but we can always be better. Perfection is almost impossible, but we can sure try!
What are your homeowners looking for in a window or door product?
Without question, low maintenance is #1. The clad products Windsor provides fits this to a “T.”
Why would you choose Windsor windows and doors over other brands?
The reason we choose Windsor products is because it aligns well with our mission of quality, service and price. We often shop products to see if they meet our clients’ needs and inevitably, Windsor always does.The rare times we got outside of that box, we had all kinds of problems with frames and leaks.
What advantages do Windsor windows and doors offer you?
The Windsor line offers a wide range of products from Vinyl to PVC to Clad. We tend to use clad on the higher end homes. Our clients have no problem finding a clad color that works for them, while the wood interiors give us total flexibility to paint or stain.
Today’s energy codes in Washington have become pretty extreme and Windsor can get to the U-values required. We often are applying 2 layers of Low E coatings to get the energy rating. At the same time, we are getting protection from the sun.
Windsor can make casements as large as 3’ wide by 6’ tall, that’s nearly a door! They also can provide us with direct set frames giving that modern look so many people are looking for today.
Who do you work with in evaluating Windsor products?
We have been lucky to have been working with the same sales person in windows since the 1980s. Marc Payne is with Stile Windows & Doors.
How would you describe your relationship with your Windsor distributor?
We are lucky to have Windsor come in to our office as new products come on line. We have worked with Lou Lang on new ideas and products. He actually comes in with treats and we’ll have all of our project managers, architects and interior designers come in and listen to all of the advances in technology.
What Windsor products have you used in your projects? Why did you use that particular product?
I would say that the vast majority of our product use has been the Pinnacle Clad line. In the modern homes we use the direct set with small modern trim. This home we actually used the pre-painted black interiors trying to make our painter’s job a little easier. We also use a lot of their nice big sliding doors with the multipoint locking system.
What would you say to someone considering Windsor products? What can they expect?
I think the choices are really nice. From function to hardware. We can do casements, awning, double hungs. They have over 20 standard colors to choose from, and another maybe 30 custom colors. They also have many options for hardware and grids.
I think Windsor stands behind their product well. When we have any issues, they take care of it.
Another thing about Windsor that makes a difference, when we order the product, we get a delivery date that just doesn’t ever seem to miss. With today’s busy economy, this helps us to stay on schedule.