Epcon Builder Stories With Vic Mariano of Luxury Lifestyle Homes

Builder Stories With Vic Mariano

Meet Vic Mariano, owner of Luxury Lifestyle Homes, an Epcon Franchise Builder in Mesa, Arizona.

“The old adage of, ‘Those that can’t do, teach,’ you don’t fit that model. You do and you teach, specifically, teach the land development piece. That was really important to me.”

Host: Vic, thank you so much for speaking with me this afternoon. I want to get right into your story. I know you’ve been a home builder for 15 years now and I was hoping you could speak to your history, your career and how you got into home building.

Vic Mariano: That’s an interesting question, because I didn’t enter the home building and remodeling business the way most people do. My dad was not a contractor. He wasn’t an electrician or a plumber. I actually worked in the corporate world in operations and engineering management for high-end semiconductors. When I came into the contracting business, I just brought what I learned from the corporate world.

Everyone used to say, or still does, they’ll say, “You’ve never worked for a construction company like this before.” It always used to boggle my mind until I put the pieces together and figured out that it was because I didn’t grow up in construction. We do operate differently. As a smaller boutique remodeling company/builder, we operate more like an Epcon. We believe in process, procedures, culture is a really big deal for us.

Fifteen years ago, I started by buying homes on the courthouse steps with a partner. Then, when that was destroyed, that business model was destroyed by New York coming to town with their deep pockets and overpaying for properties. My partner ended up going back to his main business of cabinet building, and I decided to stay with the remodeling and the home building. That’s how I ended up here. Fifteen years later, here I am.

Host: I know in your business, you put a lot of emphasis on the customer, and I was wondering if you could speak a little bit to that and why customer service is so important to you and your team.

Vic: It is. It’s so important. Our tagline is, “Your contractor for life™” It’s so important that I actually own the registered trademark for that. Speaking of the culture that I was talking about a little bit earlier, it’s very important.

We eat, sleep and breathe customer experience, the five star customer experience. We start every meeting that we have with going over the values and our mission statement. Every project that we start, my whole team is in front of the house, mission, vision and values, reminding ourselves that the reason that we have this client is because we performed well with a client before that, so it’s extremely important.

Host: How did you find Epcon?

Vic: Three years ago, we’re on year four now, I had a 10-year strategy to become a $50 million a year company is what I told my team, but it’s actually $100 million. To become a $100 million a year company, the remodeling and the home building that we were doing was not going to be enough. We needed to be more in production building.

The issue that we have in the Phoenix area is land. I didn’t want to take chances of trying to learn land development on my own, and so with today’s technology, you start speaking it and your phone picks it up, and next thing I know I’m getting advertisements from all different types of folks, including Epcon.

The thing that I was intrigued about, there’s many things, but the two main things about Epcon that drew me to your team, I guess I’m part of that team now, is the fact that the old adage of, “Those that can’t do, teach,” you guys don’t fit that model. You guys do and you teach, specifically, teach the land development piece. That was really important to me.

Then, we talked about process and procedures, which is near and dear to my heart. I thought I was good at it until I met you guys, and you guys make me look like an amateur. We’ve got a lot to learn.

Host: I think that’s great, though. You talk about being teachable, and being able to learn despite how many years you’ve been in the industry and that’s a really good takeaway.

Vic: I actually tell people all the time that I’m a lifetime learner. I don’t really read novels. I read information to make me a better leader, because when the leader gets better, everyone gets better.

Host: Can you talk a little bit about the Epcon community that you’re envisioning on the horizon? I know you’re not quite there yet, but what’s that first Epcon project look like for you?

Vic: I’m not afraid of the size. I’m excited about getting started. Just three weeks ago, we had our first land deal that kind of crashed on us. We’re back to the drawing board trying to find us a location for that, but I’m thinking we’re going to be in that 120 lots area, so we can do the 3-4 phase project. I’m just looking forward to actually learning more. There are learnings that we took from the land deal that didn’t work, so that we can apply those things moving forward to the one that is going to work.

Host: What’s your experience been like thus far in working with Epcon? I know you’ve mentioned the land side, but what’s it been like working with Epcon as a whole?

Vic: I’m super impressed with the whole team. Everyone’s very friendly and willing to help answer questions, and people know my name. When I showed up for the Epcon National Conference, everybody’s like, “Oh hey, Vic,” before I had my badge. That was nice that people could recognize who I was, and then put the face and the name together. It’s been a very positive experience.

Host: What advice do you have for a potential Franchise Builder, newer than yourself, that’s considering an opportunity like this?

Vic: That’s a good question. For me, I would say do your homework, and the Epcon Franchising team will be more than willing to give you all the information you need to do your due diligence. Don’t be afraid to call people that are current Franchise Builders. More importantly, call people that are no longer Franchise Builders.

For me, the one question that I asked was, “How do people fail?” I got the story of the cake, where, “This is the recipe. This is how you build this beautiful chocolate cake. It doesn’t need your strawberry toppings, Vic. Make sure you build this cake and follow the recipe.” I told myself, “Well, I’m a first-born, so that’ll be pretty easy for me.”

Host: Are there any final thoughts that you’d like to share?

Vic: Everybody that I talked to when I was doing my due diligence said that if they had anything to do over again, they would have done it sooner. I would say that I’m looking forward to being able to say that after I start my first project. I’m looking to be in the awards banquet. I was telling, my wife last night that I said, “I’m going to win all of those awards.” I’m looking forward to the day that I can actually say that and make it true.

To learn more about Vic’s story, watch Lifelong Learning With Epcon.