by Sean Sullivan
by Sean Sullivan
Building Happier, Healthier Lives
Two lessons stick out to me of all the things that my father taught me when I was growing up. The first is patience, patience, patience. He had so much patience and grace with me while I was growing up, especially as a teenager and a young man. The second is the idea of Kaizen. These two lessons have led me my whole life, influenced me, and been foundational concepts for how I’ve built my companies.
One Step at a Time
I have tried to tie everything that we do at Living Stone into this idea of Kaizen. Not just with our business but also mentally, spiritually, and physically. How can we always be better? How can we take better care of ourselves and our community? That question has been behind every decision I’ve made and helped me forge this organization into what it is today.
When I first started, I partnered with two other guys, and we did sub-contracting work. That was in 1995 but I quickly realized that partnerships were difficult and I really wanted to get into renovations, additions, and eventually become a general contractor. That’s when I started what is now Living Stone Design + Build.
Adapt and Grow
We’ve gone through many changes since that time. Many iterations and transitions, both big and small, have taken us from the start to what we are today.
One of the first transitions we made was changing from renovating to building new homes. When the Energy Star program started in NC we quickly began certifying all of our homes. While we were happy with what we had done around energy efficiency, we kept asking ourselves what else we could do so that the end product is better for our clients? That’s when we learned the importance of building with healthy products for indoor air quality and began certifying all of our homes green through the NC Green Built Alliance.
The Great Recession
During the Great Recession, we looked around the building industry and saw a broken system. People would buy a lot to build, but there was no collaboration between the architects, builders, and designers. It was an inefficient, unenjoyable system, and clients were not happy. In 2010, we decided to partner with other building professionals as a collaborative design and build firm so that our clients wouldn’t have to deal with the stress of a disjointed process and the repeating problems. It was risky to change a proven formula in the middle of an economic crisis. Still, we embraced that challenge by remembering that we must have constant process improvement.
Design Green, Build Green, Live Green
Our sister firm, (owned by my wife, Laura Sullivan) IDology Interiors & Design, is one of our partners and works with our clients to choose the many design selections for their home. They have also been sourcing green, non-toxic furniture for our clients for the last 10 years. We realize that while not everyone will build with Living Stone, our community should have access to green, non-toxic furniture. So, Laura and I opened Atelier Maison & Co. in July 2020.
For Our Clients
My goal for our clients is to try to consolidate and simplify the process of building a home and giving them an exceptional experience, not just as our clients but as people: that they will feel we have their best interest in mind physically, emotionally, and aesthetically. As a result, they will really enjoy the process of building, and end up with a beautiful home, a home with No Regrets!