We had the good fortune of connecting with Rick + Brandy McLain and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rick + Brandy, what’s something about your industry that outsiders are probably unaware of?
What was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Starting our own business has always been our dream. Our home renovation was our inspiration and motivation. We jumped at the chance to be able to help people add beautiful, modern details to their own homes.
When we were remodeling our house in Tucson, we wanted to install modern address numbers as the final touch. To our surprise, we couldn’t find anything we liked. With our background in architecture and construction, we decided to make our own. We had so many people knock on our door after we put our numbers up. We thought we might use our experience to help others add a modern touch to their own projects.
Pushing beyond the conventional and avoiding trends was a part of the process. We really focused on making it simple and enjoyable. We created a collection of numbers in timeless, modern fonts along with matching mailbox and curb numbers. At the time, there weren’t any products like this available.
What’s one thing about your industry that outsiders are probably unaware of?
The power of modern details! People might not be aware of what a huge difference a great set of modern numbers can make. New address numbers are one of the very best ways to boost your curb appeal and your property value! What seems like a small detail, can really enhance the look and feel of your property. We think it’s like jewelry for your home!
Risk taking: how do you think about risk, what role has taking ricks played in your life/career?
Being a business owner isn’t for everyone. You’ve got to be willing to take risks.
To us, a risk often looks like an opportunity! When we started Modern House Numbers, Brandy had to exit her job in planning and architecture to take the reins of the operation. When she did, it created the flexibility to create and grow a company that consistently reflects our values. The decision to follow our passion and take the chance to start our own company is one of the best and most fulfilling decisions we’ve made.
Other than deciding to work for yourself, what was the single most important decision you made that contributed to your success?
Passion! We both share an entrepreneurial mindset and a love for design. The single most important decision in our success has been to always follow our passion. Regardless of the work, in architecture or as business owners, we wake up every day and pour our passion and drive into everything we do. Our passion is relentless at times! At Modern House Numbers, our excitement and dedication to our work is contagious. Our team embodies it, and we know our customers can feel it too.
What is the most important factor behind your success / the success of your brand?
The secret to our success at Modern House Numbers is people. We could say it’s the products, the design, or the quality. This is all true. But the real story is that we’ve achieved our success because of our incredible staff and our loyal customers. We could never have executed or sustained our vision without the people that share our passion and believe in our products. When the day is done, we want our team and our customers to be blown away by their experience with Modern House Numbers. When our customers and staff tell us that they “couldn’t be happier!”, we know we’ve found success.
What’s the most difficult decision you’ve ever had to make?
Making the choice to remain fully open and operational at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic was the most difficult decision in our company’s history. Our team is an important part of our company, and our lives. We agonized over the best ways to keep them safe and healthy, while also taking good care of our customers. Many businesses closed temporarily or had their entire staff working virtually from home. These were not viable options for us. We worked together to figure out how to successfully work in shifts, do certain tasks from home, and even scheduled food deliveries for our older staff who were most at risk. It was a very challenging time. We’re really happy to be back in person together.
Work life balance: how has your balance changed over time? How do you think about the balance?
When you run your own company, balancing work and personal life is a daily struggle. There are always unexpected demands for your time that you have to fit in. If we can’t create a reasonable balance over the course of a week, that usually tells us that something in our operation isn’t working as well as it should. Each week we make sure we’re spending quality time with family, investing time in the company and our staff, and taking care of the people around us. We know we can’t do it all. We hire great people, train them well, and empower them to lead.
Do you have a favorite quote or affirmation? What does it mean to you / what do you like about it?
“Start how you want to finish.” by Pritzker Prize-winning, Australian architect Glenn Murcutt.
We first heard this quote in Architecture school. It has always stuck with us and became our mantra when we started our business. It reminds us that regardless of what we offer, it will be thoughtfully designed, impeccably crafted, simple to install. Our focus is always to make sure that our customers have an enjoyable experience, and are confident that they can achieve architectural quality results. We will not waiver or compromise on these values.
We use this statement frequently, and especially when we’re considering any change, like adding a new product, modifying an established process, or hiring a new staff member. It reminds us to stay true to our core values of excellence.
Why did you pursue an artistic or creative career?
We were both born with a creative spirit, inspired to design and build. As a child, Rick spent every waking moment with his Legos. As he got older he became fascinated with the mechanics of his grandfather’s 1930 Ford truck and restored it to its original glory. Brandy was born on a ranch in northern Arizona, and from a young age spent her free time learning how to weld and sew. As young adults, we earned degrees in Architecture to fuse our love of design and craft into a meaningful pursuit. Both of us are still very passionate about design and creating things by hand. We’re lucky that we get to use our creativity and passion every day in our work.
What do you want your legacy to be? What do you want people to remember about you?
Modern details have the power to create a more beautiful world! We want to be part of people loving their homes and improving their neighborhoods. We hope that each time you come home to your Modern House Numbers you have a smile on your face and feel proud of your home. We’d like to be remembered for transforming communities, one number at a time.
What should our readers know about your business?
Starting our own business has always been our dream. Our home renovation in 2008 was the inspiration and motivation. We jumped at the chance to be able to help people add beautiful, modern details to their own projects!
We want to be part of people loving their homes and improving their neighborhoods. Modern House Numbers is not an impersonal, industrial operation. We’re a family-run business with a team full of designers and craftspeople. We love waking up each day to inspire and empower people to add beauty to their lives.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
We’re so lucky to call Tucson home. The people are friendly, the food is amazing
– especially the Mexican food, the history is fascinating, and the Sonoran desert is spectacular. If you came to visit, we’d be sure to take you to visit as many of these spots as possible:
-A stay at the charming and historic Arizona Inn
-a visit to Sonoran Desert Museum
-Mercado & MSA: can’t miss Seis Kitchen for delicious contemporary Mexican food, Presta Coffee, La Estrella Bakery for traditional Mexican pastry, and a stop at MAST boutique
-Congress Street, and especially a meal at Cup Cafe at the historic Hotel Congress
-A drive by the renowned Judith Chafee Ramada House
-Tito + Pep, incredible food in an MCM building near our office
-El Charro, the oldest Mexican restaurant in America, founded in 1922
-Pueblo Vida Brewing Company
-Hiking in Sabino Canyon
-Museum of Modern Art & Cafe a la Cart
-University of Arizona – Mall walk and visit to Meinel Optical Science building, & School of Dance buildings
-San Xavier Mission on the Tohono O’odham reservation
-Day trip to Bisbee or Tubac
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
We’d like to give a big shoutout to our incredible staff. They deserve so much of the credit in our Modern House Numbers story. They care deeply about their work, the success of our company, and for one another. They inspire us every day.
Modern House Numbers and Gerry Loew