Contractor Spotlight: Black Diamond

December 2, 2015
Black Diamond putting green

Founded in 2004, Black Diamond Paver Stones & Landscape is growing quickly in the exterior remodeling space as it adapts to successfully meet the changing needs of California homeowners, especially in the areas of energy and water efficiency. From Sacramento to Monterey, Black Diamond is having tremendous success with environmentally responsible exterior remodeling services, and CaliforniaFIRST financing has been essential to that effort. As part of an ongoing series featuring our CaliforniaFIRST contractors, we chatted with Black Diamond founder, president and CEO Roger Van Alst to talk about the company's plans for growth and how its partnership with CaliforniaFIRST has helped fuel the expansion.

Tell us about the opportunity you saw in the financing partnership with CaliforniaFIRST.

Roger: I learned about CaliforniaFIRST financing from a friend who runs a heating and air conditioning company. After looking into the program, I realized it was applicable to our landscaping services. We started offering CaliforniaFIRST financing to our customers this year. Today, almost all our customers are choosing it. CaliforniaFIRST has been instrumental in growing the segments of our business where it applies. Low water consumption plants, water-efficient drip systems and synthetic lawns are more expensive than standard landscape products and services. Financing is essential for closing these sales. When you put all the pieces together - often including state rebates - our customers get a more beautiful exterior space that is also more affordable. We had $17 million in sales last year, and we are on pace for around $26 million this year - growth that is largely due to our ability to offer energy-efficient products with CaliforniaFIRST financing.

What do your customers like about CaliforniaFIRST financing?

Roger: Customers like the fact that CaliforniaFIRST is a public-private partnership that's paid through their property tax bill and completely separate from their credit scores. The homes we work on become higher value homes. They sell faster and at higher prices because they have greater curb appeal. Real estate agents will tell you that it's appropriate to invest 10% of the value of your home in pavers. You'll see the return on that level of investment. I founded Black Diamond on the concept of giving customers value for their money. The total investment needs to include not just installation, but also the ongoing cost of maintenance. CaliforniaFIRST helps bridge the gap between old, less efficient systems and new, better options that return your investment over time.

What does the future hold for Black Diamond?

Roger: We're going to see three things over the next few years in exterior remodeling: more synthetic lawns, more subterranean irrigation systems and more drought-tolerant plantings. Water is only going to become scarcer and more expensive, so homeowners will have to respond. The reason I'm in this business is that I enjoy beautifying. Exterior remodeling is an exciting and emotional purchase for a homeowner. I like being involved with that. It's an especially exciting time for our company because energy- and water-efficient options are more beautiful than ever. Get to know Renew Financial and CaliforniaFIRST better! Our financing solutions will help you grow your contracting business.