Louisville Builder Magazine - Emerging Porfessionals - Ben Monsma
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Louisville Builder - Emerging Professionals - Ben Monsma

Louisville Builder Magazine- April 2019

Keeping the Local Touch by Michelle Creech


For Ben Monsma, manager at Louisville Spray Foam Insulation, every project is different. Whether a building is new or old, residential or commercial, encountering new situation - and having to find solutions - is a given.

We've done a lot of really cool and unique projects," said Monsma. "Continuing to learn and being open to new ideas is a huge part of the puzzle.."

Louisville Spray Foam Insulation, a local, full-service insulation contractor specializing in interior insulation, clearly has solved many puzzles in its time: It was recently name, in coordination with the Insulation Contractors Association of America, the top insulation contractor of 2019 in Walls & Ceilings Magazine, a national trade publication. 


The company was established 10 years ago, and Matthew Gilles, the current owner, purchased the company's assets a little more than five years ago. "I've been with him since day one," Monsma said. "We're still kind of just the local mom-and-pop shop."


Re branding, including developing a new logo, followed the ownership change. The logo is so memorable that Louisville Spray Foam Insulation often get mistaken for a national company. "People think we're a franchise, but we're not," Monsma said. "We're in charge of almost all of our own marketing." Photos that appear on the company's Facebook or other social media pages are typically take by Monsma.


"'Locally owned and operated' is a huge deal for us. It seems like every day one of the other local companies is getting bought out," Monsma said. Louisville Spray Foam Insulation is committed to  "keeping that local touch."


The local touch has some essential ingredients. "Keep expectations real, keep projects moving on schedule, be responsive and then also be available if anything else needs to be handled," Monsma said.


Continual customer service also plays a big role. "We try to have as many gentle touches with the customer as possible," Monsma said. "[We} want to make sure the {the customers} expecting us." Keeping in contact with a customer ahead of time, informing the customer when the crew is on their way and following up with the customer after work is completed are all considered important to a project. "A lot of contact just avoids a lot of issues. And a lot of .. companies don't seem to take the time to do that, and that kind of leads to dashed  expectations from the customers."


Keeping customers informed "also opens up the avenue of conversation," Monsma said. Louisville Spray Foam Insulation values that customers can feel able to ask questions - or come to the company with unique situations - and be confident they will receive answers and solutions. "So many things in the building industry change so fast .. you'd be foolish to think that you know everything. I mean, there's a common understanding of things, but then the ability to go get the answers has really always been a personal and professional goal of mine," he said. When research is necessary, taking the time to learn about a new product or approach can set up a project to succeed. 


Monsma has found that the project that are the most fun to accomplish can also be the most challenging. 


The Masonic Homes of Kentucky brought one such project, which pushed the boundaries ow what is possible for spray foam insulation. A signature building under construction at the site feature a large dome, and "because of the height, architecture, limited space behind the drywall." spray foam was needed for its ability to "fit and customize itself to the space," Monsma said. Add to this the face that the building "also had to have a fire-suppression system running all the way through it. So that's a serious challenge, and to meet the architect's code, we had to come up with a solution."


Working on a schedule without any flexibility meant that a more common type of spray foam insulation could not be used. "Closedcell spray foam is only allowed to be sprayed n 2 inches at a time. So that's the history of this product. This {project} required 5 1/2" inches and needed to finished in one day," Monsma said.


To meet the time frame, a new product was called for. "We have a very close relationship with our supplier, Icynene-Lapolla," Monsma said. "We knew they had a product that had just passed all the testing, and we had been using it off and o." Its properties would enable Louisville Spray Foam to "actually spray that 5 1/2" in one day without having to let it col down for 24 hours."


"Two, three, four years ago, this just flat-out could not be done," Monsma said. "We were recognized across the country for that project in our trade magazine. And the, also, it was a case study for Icynene-Lapolla. That was fun one."


He also particularly enjoys working on Homearama project, which allow the company to demonstrate the full capabilities - and comfort - of spray foam insulation. "In those house, we get to show off all the possibilities," Monsma said. Typically, a builder gives Louisville Spray Foam Insulation the freedom "to make those houses the shining example of efficient building" and show how spray foam insulation is an affordable choice for the long term.


In one home, "the master suite was out over a large garage," Monsma said, "and historically that's the worst room in the house" for regulating the temperature. Yet "it was the most comfortable room in the house, through out the entire show" Louisville Spray Foam Insulation has surrounded the master suite "with spray foam on every sidle side, so that, when you have to your AC run in the house, it stays in the house."


"Spray foam will actually end paying up for itself," Monsma noted. "So., you ay more up front for the consistency of a lower utility bill because it gives you full control in a house or commercial building."


At the 2018 Homearama, they applied spray foam insulation in the house, built by Signature Crafted Homes, that won the People's Choice Grand Awards. "Every year they're a ton of fun," Monsma said.


His appreciation for the value of continual learning also plays out in his involvement in the BIA Emerging Professionals group, of which he recently became chair. "The ability to learn and bounce ideas off of other emerging professionals is a big deal," Monsma said. "To be able to pick other people's brains, in a very casual - 'Hey, what works for you, what does not?" is the biggest takeaway for Monsma. "When you stay humble and open-minded at the same time, that learning happens faster,"


Monsma makes it clear that Louisville Spray Foam Insulation, having gained national recognition more than one, still values its mom-and-pop character - and perpetually looks forward to the next project, the next new idea and the next chance to exceed customer exceptions. 




April 2019

"The ability to go get the answers has really always been a personal and professional goal of mine"

Link to the article in louisville builder magazine article featuring ben monsma in the april 2019 edition.

Walls and Ceilings Magazine - 2019 Contractor of the Year

Walls and Ceilings entire magazine (pdf)

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Spray Foam Magazine January/February 2018. Our work is featured on pages 14 and 15. Credit: Ben Monsma

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