Best Atlanta Contractors of 2010
Outdoor Makeover | Marietta, Ga.
Alan Jaffe of Atlanta says he couldn't sell his late father's home because the landscape needed so much work. He turned to Angie's List to find brothers Omid and Navid Derakhshan, who own Outdoor Makeover.
"I'd had some landscapers in the past, they usually came at their convenience to do the work and they nickel-and-dimed me," he says. "Not these guys."
Omid and Navid say their father, a real estate developer in Atlanta, had negative experiences with landscape companies as well, and they wanted to change that perception when they founded the company in 2001. "We have a passion for landscape transformations and restorations, and founded our company on ethical values," Navid says.
Omid says landscaping, which doesn't require a license in Georgia, is very satisfying and he and his brother work hard to establish a good reputation with customers.
"We often find that clients' neighbors come by and thank us for adding beauty to their neighborhood," he says. "They see the transformation and hire us to do their yards next. So we must be doing something right."
Omid says they try to treat each project uniquely. "Whether the client desires hardscaping, xeriscaping or regular landscaping, their desires are not universal and therefore we strive to create plans that are individualized to each customer," he says.
Jaffe says he sold his father's house, and he attributes it directly to Outdoor Makeover. "When they redid the yard, it made all the difference," he says.
The Derakhshans place emphasis on being environmentally friendly. "We had 'gone green' long before the rise in popularity of recycling," Navid says, adding that they also strive to use drought-tolerant plants in customers' yards to save water.
The company also provides financial support to the HEALing Community Center, a free clinic for the disadvantaged in Atlanta.
The Duct Man of Atlanta | Cumming, Ga.
Roswell [Ga.] resident Carol Gibson and her husband, both of whom suffer from allergies and upper respiratory issues, say they're breathing easier now that The Duct Man of Atlanta cleaned their home's air ducts. "There is a really nice cleanness in the air now," Gibson says.
In her Page of Happiness nomination - one of 10 the company received in 2010 - Gibson also notes the careful, meticulous work done by owner Allan Chandler.
"He was over here for a long period of time, much longer than the company we used years ago, and cleaned to a much greater extent," she says. "He told me, 'I take pride in my work' and I sensed that was true," she says.
That is in keeping with what Chandler says of his business philosophy. "It's pretty basic, something my old man always told me: 'Say what you do, do what you say,'" he explains. "It's about pride, honesty and doing a good job. We're a small company, some might call it a mom and pop, so we stay afloat with good, quality work."
Although there are duct cleaning businesses out there that may be cheaper, Chandler says many don't bring the quality he does.
"About 75 percent of the duct cleaners out there, I wouldn't let them in the door," he says. "They don't have properly trained technicians. If you're worried more about quality, and not about spending a few dollars more, we're the best choice."
Chandler, whose work doesn't require a license, operates the business with his wife, Yvette. He says the thing he loves most about his job is helping customers. "I had a recent job, there was probably 2 inches of hair and dirt in there, and when I was done, the duct was shining like new," he says. "The guy's reaction was priceless."
Yvette gives back to the community by tutoring disadvantaged youth through the Girls on the Run program.
DeKalb C.A.R.E. | Doraville, Ga.
Cheri Carter of Clarkston [Ga.] says owner Dan Goss is a great HVAC contractor who's also very easy to get along with. "He's just fantastic," she says. "He gives that personal touch - remembers my name, my partner's name, my pets' names. You just want to hang out with him and have a beer."
Goss, who has a state HVAC license, says he's in a unique position to understand his clients. "I didn't grow up in a technical field, and I know what it's like to be dependent on someone else," he says. That distinction, Goss believes, is what helps set him apart. "Being a good technician is definitely not enough," he says.
Goss says he regularly receives training from Southface Energy Institute, which promotes energy conservation and sustainable building practices among contractors. "It's one of my interests, it goes beyond the heating and air business," he says, adding that he also donates to a local charity.
KDL Painting | McDonough, Ga.
Sally Dunn of Decatur [Ga.] says she appreciates the paint job completed by company owner Kevin Laird and his crew. "Painting is a big expenditure, and their attention to detail was really appreciated," she says. "He obviously wanted to do a really good job."
Laird says he's a third-generation painter who started painting early. He opened KDL in 2003. "It's a great job," he says. "I love the fact that we get to brighten people's day with color."
Laird, whose work doesn't require a trade license, attributes his success to always treating the customer the way he wants to be treated. "When you take good care of people, they will in turn take care of you," he says.
He uses no-VOC caulking and paints, and recycles used plastic and metal paint cans. He also donates to a scholarship program at a local church and offers free labor on some community projects.