Synergy Continues to ‘Renovate Happy’ as It Adapts to Pandemic
Founders of Northern Virginia design-build firm believe in a customer-first approach.
Even before they began renovating their own home for the 2021 Model ReModel, Mark and Mina Fies have understood how stressful a home remodel can be.
“Before we started Synergy, I was struck by how many people have had bad experiences,” Mina recalls. “So many people are living in homes that don’t work for them because they are afraid of going through the remodeling experience. I thought, ‘There has got to be a better way.’”
So did her husband Mark. “We both had corporate backgrounds before coming into the remodeling industry,” he explains, and the couple carefully considered the opportunities and challenges that awaited them. “We asked, ‘What’s not working for consumers in this industry? Why is it so stressful?’”
Mark and Mina wanted to provide a different experience and founded Synergy Design & Construction in 2008, just months after getting married. Among their core practices at the design-build firm: constant communication with the customer, a strong project management approach to keep projects on schedule, and an emphasis on eliminating the hassles that can make a home renovation a difficult experience for the homeowner. Mark and Mina’s goal? To “renovate happy,” which is also the URL for Synergy’s website.
More than a decade later, they have carved out a niche in the active and competitive Northern Virginia remodeling market. With 11 employees, not including Mark and Mina, Synergy works in its home base of Reston and nearby communities in Fairfax and Loudoun counties. Focusing on quality and complexity over quantity of projects, the company usually limits their multi-room renovations to under 20 per year. The largest share of remodels involving kitchen and surrounding areas (35 percent), followed by basements (30 percent), bathrooms (20 percent) and whole-home remodels (15 percent).
They’ve been equally busy during the pandemic due to strong demand from homeowners. “Families have been sequestered in their homes for such an extended period of time. It has only highlighted what wasn’t working in their home before the pandemic hit,” Mina says. ”In addition, this new reality of being able to work from home and focus on family and what matters most in our lives has increased the value homeowners place on the home from a psychological standpoint.”
At the same time, pandemic-related challenges have forced delays in appliance and cabinetry deliveries, increased labor and material costs, and shifts in job site practices and more. “While we’ve always prided ourselves on running safe job sites, with covid we added additional measures,” Mina says. “Those include temperature checks, handwashing stations, and spacing out trade partner work to ensure fewer people working on a job site at any given time.” Long before the pandemic, the remodeling firm used commercial air scrubbers on job sites to reduce dust and improve air quality for employees and homeowners during construction. “We were proud to see that same air scrubber being used in hospitals during the pandemic, which only confirmed our commitment to creating a healthy working environment,” Mina says.
Synergy, always comfortable with technology, has expanded the use of video meetings during the pandemic. “Due to covid, we conduct almost all of our initial sales appointments and more than 50 percent of our design meetings via Zoom,” says Mina. “Although convenient, it can add to the length of decision-making for clients when we’re not meeting them at showrooms as often.”
For more information about Synergy, read the story of how Mark and Mina found their own "fixer-upper."