In today’s world, home delivery is not only a convenience—it’s essential, and Gilroy resident and entrepreneur Ann Marie McCauley of Lazy Suzan Designs has provided that convenience to her clients since 2005.
“I felt it would be much lower overhead to do a mobile showroom and I would have more access to the client’s home,” McCauley said, adding that with her van outfitted with door styles, cabinets, and different finishes, she delivers her showroom right to their front door.
Although her business model was developed more than 15 years ago, it has turned out to be the ideal fit for today’s current climate of uncertainty.
“In hindsight I had no idea what a good idea this was,” McCauley said, with a smile. “When I go to a home, we can open every door and window and I wear a mask, so we can be very, very safe.”
Regarding the construction aspect, she explained that the entire part of the house under construction is literally blocked off.
“It’s pretty amazing how efficient and how much we can distance and stay safe,” she said.
McCauley, who attended Rhode Island School of Design, in Providence, where she earned a BFA, certainly enjoys the creative aspect of her work, but her primary goal on every job is establishing a connection with her clients.
“I just love going to their house and meeting them and hearing the stories about their life,” McCauley said. “I always feel like I have to create their stage. I used to be a set designer, so people are like the characters, and (my designs) are based on them and their life.
“I go to the house, measure, do the consultation and give an estimate on cabinets. That’s how we get to know each other. If they want to move forward, then we just move forward.”
McCauley’s connection to her clients extends even further, as many times the client is in need of emotional support, which has become more evident since the start of the pandemic.
“So, (today), everybody is at home in a remodel,” McCauley said. “You’ve already been with each other for almost a year, and now you have no kitchen. It’s not easy. It is definitely a more emotional process than it used to be, and we’re so directly involved in the process. Everything is harder now, in a different way.”
Over the years McCauley has assembled a team of 30 local contractors, creating a sense of loyalty and comradery amongst her team. This in turn provides an added benefit to her clients.
“Because we’re all continuously working as a team there’s a lot of loyalty, and there’s a lot of loyalty to the clients,” McCauley said. “None of us mark each other’s materials up, everything is purchased directly—that’s how we do business in Gilroy. We’ve had a lot of success, so I feel like I am just paper and wood without the contractor, they’re just critical.”
In fact, she credits half of her business to referrals by contractors.
“Because of what I do for them,” McCauley said. “I can’t stress enough the value of my team. A lot of competitors don’t have that much of a connection. Where, for me, it’s much more intimate and personal.”
For those considering a kitchen remodel, McCauley recommends their first step should be determining the goals for the house.
“How long are they going to stay? Is resale a factor, because that helps to establish the budget,” she explained. “If you’re going to flip the house in a year, that’s very different than if you’re going to raise a family and stay 15 years. The more you plan upfront, the more likely you are to stay on budget, because the budget is just crucial.”
With McCauley’s more than 25 years of hands-on experience, she’s collected quite a large client base.
Gilroy resident Melanie Troini is just one of McCauley’s satisfied customers. Her kitchen remodel took place more than five years ago and Troini is still excited about how it turned out.
“She made sure it was what I wanted,” Troini said. “She was really very patient and really listened to what I had to say. She really wanted me happy, and I think she feels that way with everybody.”
Michelle Conrotto is another satisfied customer.
“Oh my gosh, she’s just so creative and helped me just literally turn my kitchen around, turned it into a new showplace,” Conrotto said. “It was even in a magazine, South Valley Magazine. She’s just always there for calls, anything that came up that we had a question on, she was there for us.”
Contact McCauley Monday through Saturday at 408.848.5956 to schedule a free consultation, or visit lazysuzandesigns.com.