Highland Construction and Restoration’s expertise provides ease in emergencies
By JUDY ROYAL Photos by KELLY STARBUCK PHOTOGRAPHY
Highland Construction and Restoration, founded by Gary Strickland Sr. in Fayetteville in 1981, started out like many other builders, focusing on creating new homes. A personal incident, however, served as a catalyst that forever changed the trajectory of the company, allowing it to establish a successful niche that now serves all of Southeastern North Carolina.
When the Strickland family’s kitchen caught on fire, Strickland decided to do the repairs himself. The insurance company was so satisfied with the work that its representatives asked him to do more restoration and renovation projects, soon shifting Highland’s focus to fire, water and storm damage repair. In 2007, the licensed general contractor phased out its new homes division to concentrate solely on its specialty.
Today, Strickland is semi-retired and his sons Kenny and Gary II run the company, which has added a cabinet and flooring showroom in Fayetteville and opened an office in Wilmington at 3302 Kitty Hawk Drive, to serve all of Southeastern North Carolina.
“We saw the potential in opening an office in Wilmington because of the construction and business growth,” said Kenny, president of Highland Construction. “We have several prior clients who have properties on the coast, and they encouraged us to open the office there.”
“Being on the coast, there are additional concerns from hurricanes and flooding,” he added. “In addition, extreme freezing temperatures and ice storms such as the weather event back in January hit Wilmington particularly hard.”
The company, which has 40 staff members, provides 24/7 emergency service, including trucks on standby packed with supplies such as generators, tarps, plywood, lighting, water drying and extraction equipment, caution signs and perimeter tape. Highland also works with your insurance company and adjuster to see each project through to completion and make the process seamless.
Although Highland has decades of experience dealing with insurance companies, “consumers can be more prepared for an emergency by understanding their policy, including what it covers and what your responsibilities are,” Kenny said.
“Talk with your insurance agent to make sure you have enough coverage and know how to make a claim,” he said. “Do this before an emergency ever happens.”
Highland’s expertise has resulted in numerous industry awards, including the Golden Hammer Award for Exemplary Performance and Dedication for five of the past six years. The Golden Hammer Award is given to the top 200 restoration contractors out of 4,500 nationwide, based on Performance Objective Monitoring System (POMS) scores, which measure how quickly contractors complete key aspects on a fire or water restoration project. Other honors include the Performance Excellence Award, given to the top contractor in the Tennessee Valley District (which includes NC, KY and TN), for two of the past three years.
While Highland’s future plans include opening an office in Raleigh later this year, growth isn’t going to prevent the company from providing the personalized and caring service necessary to get its customers through stressful and otherwise difficult situations.
“I enjoy the restoration business because we are helping people in their time of need,” Kenny said. “At some point in their life, most people will have property damage. Having lived through a fire at our family home, I understand the compassion needed to guide our customers through this process and restore their property. It is very rewarding.”
Carole Guld of Raleigh can attest to this aspect of Highland’s service. After lightning struck her Wrightsville Beach vacation home last July and caused a roof fire, she called on the company to do the repairs.
“The house burning was just so emotional for me,” said Guld, who built the residence in the early 1970s with her late husband Howard. “When I saw it go up in flames, it was just gut-wrenching. It took about an hour to put the fire out, but the force of the water caused a lot of damage. It was a great big, awful mess.”
“Highland representatives came out quickly and were happy to address all concerns,” she said.
“Whenever I had a question or a problem, they would come two at a time, so there were two people listening to me and answering me,” Guld said. “They were great.”
“Before the work started, everything was meticulously packed up and stored, including all of the shower curtains, bedding, window treatments and other fabric items, all of which were cleaned to remove the smoke smell,” she said.
Guld said she is pleased with Highland’s restoration of her home and happy the incident is now just a memory.
“They did everything,” she said. “That house was a shell. The walls were gone; the ceilings were gone; the roof was gone. Literally it was a shell, and they rebuilt it all. They did a beautiful job.” 910-485-6738, highland-inc.com
Storm damage repair is among Highland Construction and Restoration’s specialties. The 2018 Atlantic hurricane season is June 1-November 30, so now is a good time to familiarize yourself with safety tips and other information that can protect you in the event of a storm. The following websites are helpful resources: