NCA Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year
president and founder
In 2000, Christian Friedland had the idea of bringing the home improvement business into the 21st century with a specialty e-commerce website selling faucets and fixtures — faucetdirect.com.
With only $2,000 in start-up capital and the help of a partner, the website produced approximately $1 million in revenue in the first year of business. Friedland has continued to launch new specialty e-commerce sites, reinventing and improving with each.
Today, the company is an international network of more than 12 specialty home improvement websites under the umbrella of Build.com. Friedland, the company’s president and founder, has gone from being an upstart entrepreneur operating out of a garage to building a company with more than 350 employees and more than $324 million in sales.
Friedland has also worked to develop a culture of empowerment for his employees, which enables his people to provide the best support to the company’s customers.
Build.com’s new facility is outfitted with adjustable stand-up desks to improve posture, workout facilities including daily yoga classes, table tennis tables and even an industrial grade kitchen. The goal is to continue to cultivate long-term relationships with employees who can grow with the business.
Most of the management has been promoted from within, often starting in the call center and working up.
The company has developed strong infrastructure by keeping virtually all functions in-house. Friedland is a firm believer in not giving verbal rewards for achieving goals, but rather monetarily rewarding employees.
He also embraces what the company calls the “Darkside,” which is an obsession with not being good enough. That attitude pushes Friedland to take risks like leveraging Build.com in Europe — a move that was met with some skepticism — but now expansion plans are in the works.
The company is planning to hit $800 million in revenues in the next five years, although Friedland has set a personal growth goal of $1 billion.
How to reach: Build.com, www.build.com