The house whisperer: Smith eases clients into home remodeling
Smith Property Renovation’s transformation of a garage into a bedroom and bath suite (inset). Owner Casey R. Smith specialties in home additions, remodeling, decks, design, lawn care and landscaping.
Casey R. Smith of Smith Property Renovation is no fly-by-night handyman. His eight years of experience in construction and remodeling, combined with his dual degrees in landscaping management and CAD design, give him a multi-layered set of credentials.
The soft spoken, self-employed family man with a genuine smile is concentrating on residential work, with a focus on clients who need a reliable set of hands. His specialties are home additions, remodeling, decks, design, lawn care and landscaping.
There have been career opportunities that would bring in a big paycheck. Smith knows enough about wood flooring, for instance, to earn a good commission in sales; however, the extensive traveling the job would require is not an option. He prefers to stay close to home.
“Family is my driving force,” he said, adding that running his own business is “something I’ve always wanted to do. I love it.”
Smith is careful about choosing projects, preferring to work with individual home owners who need help in figuring out exactly what they need, from the ground up. Choosing the right projects have left him with no unfinished business or dissatisfied customers. He has, in DIY terms, never worked himself into a corner.
His grandfather, the late G. Marcus Jones, was a career general contractor who built Morristown Hamblen High School East and public housing in west Morristown and also left his mark via buildings in southwest Kentucky, Virginia and Sevierville. Although Jones was nearly retired when Smith grew old enough to ride along to projects, the experiences were influential.
“It kind of struck a nerve with me,” Smith said.
Smith’s natural ease with homeowners, some of whom may be a bit skittish when it comes to unexpected renovation challenges, is as consistent as his work load. He ensures that the client knows every move he makes, before he makes it.
“The last thing I’m going to do is cheat them,” Smith said.
The ability to earn the trust of clients comes by Smith honestly, through his upbringing and some good horse sense picked up out West.
The itch to go West began with Smith’s grandfather, who was an active in local civic organizations and attended the clubs’ national conventions. The timing of one convention in particular, in Anaheim, Calif., coincided with a young Smith breaking an arm during the All Star baseball season.
His grandparents invited Smith along on the three-week trip that included interesting stops every six hours or so. He was intrigued on the return route, when they stopped off 1-70 in Vale, Colo.
Smith had snow-skied regionally for several years and one look at the big mountain range “lit a fire” he said.
The embers nagged away at him, and later, while in college, Smith traveled to work at a dude ranch in Durango, Colo. for a summer. In the fall, Casey finished out his degree work at WSCC. When he returned to Colorado to ski during the winter of 2003, he heard about a job opening as a horse wrangler at a family-owned ranch 10 miles outside of Telluride.
The ranch owner had founded Aspen Ski School, then operated a mountaineering training center on his 140-acre property. By the time Smith arrived, the ranch was geared more toward week-long family vacations, with guests staying in cabins or at the ranch lodge.
The property was beautiful to say the least — “They filmed a Budweiser commercial there,” Smith said. “Do you remember the one with the Clydesdales kicking a football?”
There were 80 horses living on the ranch, with an average of 40 participating in guest activities. The horses, and wranglers, were trained using the method developed by Pat Purelli, based on the work of one of the original horse whisperers, Buck Brannaman.
Smith described the training as using a gentle touch as opposed to forcing the animal to obey commands — “It’s a real natural way of training a horse,” Smith said.
The ranch was later sold to then E-Bay CEO Meg Whitman, and Smith stayed on as caretaker until another injury, this time a torn ACL, altered his plans once more. Smith returned to Morristown for the surgery and while back home, he re-connected with a longtime friend, Kellie Campbell.
“Our families have been friends for years,” Smith said. Casey is the son of Andy and Sandra Smith; Kellie is the daughter of Dr. Jack and Elizabeth Campbell.
The casual friendship that had sparked a date or two in the past blossomed into romance and the two were married in 2006. The couple have two children, Ryder, age 3 and 1/2, and Kipton, age 1 and 1/2. The family attends First Presbyterian Church in Morristown.
The boys are a bit young for horses right now; however, Casey is working on a plan to include the benefits of equine knowledge in their upbringing. In the meantime, he’s doing what comes natural to a woodworking efficianado during his spare time — building a tree house.
For more information or to schedule an estimate, call Smith at 423-312-9248.
-By Glenna Howington, Tribune Staff Writer