Above L to R: Geoff Chait, project manager; Hannah Dominick, project manager/maintenance; Trinh Lam, project manager; Richard Smith, quality control; Marilyn Velez, office administration; Luis Topete, on-site super; Michael Capobianco, senior project manager; Michael Boch, maintenance; RJ Smith, principal | Not pictured: Stacey Hidalgo, social media
RJ Smith grew up in a family that worked in the construction industry, so he has worked as a builder and designer his entire life. He graduated from Redondo Union High School and the University of California, Santa Barbara. In 2003 he started RJ Smith Construction, a custom and spec builder servicing Manhattan Beach and Hermosa Beach.
When did you have your light bulb moment?
“I was working for a great developer in Manhattan Beach and decided to leave a secure position and take a leap into a development project and two custom homes. I have never looked back. Since then RJ Smith Construction was born, and it has been one of the best decisions of my career.”
What fulfills you most about your career?
“The amount of happiness that we get to see firsthand in our clients after completing a home. Nothing beats knowing that this family is about to start a brand-new chapter in a home my team and I built.”
What makes RJ Smith Construction different from the rest?
“RJ Smith Construction is different because when you become an RJ Smith client, you become part of the family. We take pride in our homes and selecting the right clients and projects. We do an amazing job of listening to the needs of our clients. With the knowledge we have from our spec homes and custom homes, no one can compare. Our brand motto is ‘Setting The Bar.’ We always walk into every project reminding ourselves that our team sets the standard.”
What are some ways you and your team help clients feel they are in good hands?
“We have the best team in town, and it starts with our communication with our clients. We review the design/build, budget and schedule on a monthly—sometimes weekly—basis. When it comes to building a home, there can never be enough communication.”
What services do your clients appreciate most?
“I think the thing our clients appreciate most about us is our attention to the design and detail. We love working hand-in-hand with our architects and designers. We want to let their ideas sing and turn out just the way they envisioned them. We are always proud of our finished product when we hear positive feedback from the client and design team.”
Is your work back to a “new normal” yet?
“Our business has not stopped! We have been very fortunate to work around and through the pandemic. It has opened our eyes to what we can do and what our clients are now looking for. Our normal is focusing on materials that last and the maintenance of our homes, while keeping the design at the front of our attention.”
Tell us something unique about your work that others may not know.
“Once we finish a house, we have a home maintenance division within our company that works with the homeowner to maintain the longevity of the home. We stay on throughout the years to keep our homes looking in top shape. We take pride in building our homes, and we keep them looking perfect for years to come.”
Tell us about your social media presence.
“Our social media presence is amazing. Our team does a great job of being ahead of the curve when it comes to our vision. From Instagram, Facebook and YouTube, we have you covered. I love that we are pushing the idea to show how tough it is to turn out a great product for everyone to appreciate. Videos are the wave of the future in our opinion—you can’t cheat a video. They show every detail.”
How do you cope with highly stressful situations in your work?
“We have a process in place so we can limit stress. Our clients come to us early—a lot of times before they purchase the land—and we explain our process and make sure it is in alinement with theirs. This takes most of the stress out of building. Keeping everyone on the same page makes for an easy process.”
How do you pursue happiness?
“Happiness for me is creating our clients’ dreams with our wonder design team. On the last home we finished, the designer and owner had already worked on a project together and knew each other well. The RJ Smith Construction team was added, and I am happy to say it was a perfect fit. It was great for us as this project was a new design and style for the area, and it all came together perfectly in the end.”
Tell us about your family.
“My family is my world. I have huge local extended family, which lives as close as across the street from us. Currently our boys’ sports are taking up most of our time. My wife, Robin, and I enjoy the beach lifestyle and local dining with our friends and family.”