Cope Construction and Renovation
Tracey and her husband Drew have been serving the Oxford community since 2002. Don’t miss her unique perspective on Marriage, Parenting, Serving our Neighbors, and Life as a Woman in the Trades in 2023.
Tracey, what’s it like being a woman in the Trades?
Every day is something new and different! I love what we do. I love consulting with our clients, working on selections for their bath or kitchen renovations, and communicating with our suppliers. Sure, even in 2023, there are a few, and I mean a very few individuals who still think that the trades are a man’s world, but it’s been a long time since I’ve gotten any disrespect. Several of our partners and subs are women-owned and operated. I’m in good company!
Has that changed over the last decade or two?
Sure, I’d say things have continued to improve. Back in our Project: RAKE days, I was often calling suppliers to price out and order materials, schedule deliveries, and figure out what was available to us, and there were some reps that didn’t take me seriously. When we started our company in 2011, Drew and I, together, were in and out of nearly every home improvement supply house between Nottingham and Chadds Ford. It didn’t take long for teams at the various lumber desks to get to know my face and my name. Rather than just 4 times per year before a work camp, I was now on the phone with our suppliers on a weekly basis. Any bias they might have had, quickly went out the window. The highest and best use of Drew’s time was solving problems for our clients. He didn’t have time to make those calls. If our suppliers wanted the sale, they had to speak with me. It’s now 2023. We’ve had up to 3 women working in our office during our busy seasons, ensuring our clients feel well taken care of. We work together in all phases of quoting jobs, and preparing for our crews to start work. If someone has an issue with our powerhouse female staff, they’ll have to get over it real quick because the guys are all out swinging the hammers. And it doesn’t hurt that I’m a member of a facebook community group specifically for Women who work in the Trades and another for those of us who are Married to Master Craftsmen in the Trades. It’s encouraging to see so many other women stepping up and stepping out and making things happen for their families in blue-collar work.
In our early days and during our non-profit ministry work, I actually ran several roofing crews, literally swinging a hammer. As our team has grown, we’ve learned that it’s more valuable to leverage my experience & skill set in training and managing our full-time office staff. That means I have to get my exercise differently now; using the Savage-Anywhere workouts and an occasional HIIT boot camp class. Drew was recently invited to the Avon Grove Charter School to share some information about careers in the trades with the high schoolers and several young ladies were interested. We also recently interviewed Emma Wilson who built, finished, and installed a 50 piece kitchen from scratch, at age 19. You can watch that video on our blog. We stand as permission bearers for young men & women who have their hearts set on a career in the trades.
Tell us more about your educational portal. Your company is all over YouTube and Facebook. What role does education and social media play in the construction industry?
Drew was raised in a family of Professional Problem Solvers who emphasized the importance of education and knowledge sharing. With over 2 decades of construction experience under his belt, we continue this Cope Family tradition through YouTube and our Homeowner Education Portal under the resources tab on our website. As Facebook continually changed the rules of the game over the last decade, we have adapted. We previously uploaded photo albums with detailed descriptions of nearly every project from 2011 to 2018, month-by-month, on our Facebook page. Some homeowners are scared to hire a contractor, in fear of being ripped off. Our Facebook photo albums were our primary way of demonstrating to potential clients that they could trust us to Solve their Problem at their home. As the number of impressions on our photo gallery posts continued to slide downward, and Facebook began removing Five-Star Reviews when users deactivated accounts, we felt it was important to diversify to another platform. The Facebook LIVE trend was catching on in 2017 and 2018 but it was hard to organize those videos. Eventually we got away from Live, and started recording and editing content for YouTube. Drew tries to do “one-take” episodes for our Forever Home mini-series but sometimes, extra edits are helpful. It is our hope, that whether you choose to hire our team, or not, these videos will help educate homeowners on the renovation process and equip you with the knowledge and the questions you should ask when you are interviewing a contractor to do work on your home.
How did the name “Forever Home” come about?
My husband and I like to say that we are in the rescue and repair business. Our team at Cope Construction rescues homeowners from unreliable, unskilled, unscrupulous, abusive con-artists who call themselves contractors, and threaten the investment you’ve made in your Forever Home. We provide a professional, local, trusted, reputable, reliable, registered, insured team to guide you on the home renovation journey, and we offer hundreds of instructional videos in our free online resource library, helping you learn what to look for an expect from a trusted provider. But this name, Forever Home, is also a not-so-subtle-nod to our mission and purpose as foster parents. Drew and I have invested the last two decades pouring our hearts into the lives of teenagers in Southern Chester County, rescuing them from abusive situations at home and helping them launch successfully into their adult lives. We have fostered four teens on a long term basis and 20 to 30 more who just dropped in for a weekend at “Camp Cope.” These four, and several others, now consider us to be their Forever Family. They join us for holiday meals, and call us to celebrate wins, and talk through challenges. There are thousands of children and teenagers who are trapped in the Pennsylvania Foster Care System who are hoping to find a stable Forever Family and a place they can call their Forever Home.
What don’t you like about Life in the Trades?
Shoddy workmanship. ‘Contractors’ who wash their tools out in a client’s brand new kitchen sink. Guys who smell like alcohol, flipping cigarette butts into the client’s front yard. Exposed butt-cracks. Con-artists who steal money from clients. Tail-light warranty’s and guys who say, “Looks good from here – Can’t see it from my house.” They are a black-eye on our profession, give all of us a bad reputation, and we made a whole video calling them out, declaring that you deserve a contractor who respects your home and your family! Its time that reputable companies work together to bring respect back to the blue-collar skilled trades again. And one more… the skills-gap Dirty-jobs TV personality Mike Rowe has been warning Americans about, for over a decade. It’s here. We need to encourage young people to consider a Career in the Trades. The cost of everything is going to continue to go up, until we train more skilled laborers in the art of fine craftsmanship & excellence.
We’re often asked the question, “Is there anything Cope doesn’t do? How do you answer that?
I told you about the type of family Drew was raised in. The question “what do you do” was always answered with the mantra, “whatever it takes!” He was taught growing up that “We can do anything we put our minds to. If we want something badly enough, we will find a way. If not we’ll find an excuse.” We learned from lecturer Randy Pausch, “The brick walls in life are not there to keep us out, but merely to give us an opportunity to show the world how badly we want something.” And his mother made sure he memorized Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Over 40 years of family holiday dinners, surrounded by Ph.D. holding mechanical engineers, patent owners, CEOs and business owners, military brass, electrical and chemical engineers, and those with corporate management jobs, significantly influenced the way Drew and I look at the world; hearing story after story of how each of these amazing people solved problems for their clients. Many of the now famous #Copeisms were direct quotes from his Grandma Martha, a 1950s-era schoolteacher who taught her boys to “Find something you love to do, and then find someone to pay you to do it.” The Cope Family believes strongly in education and worked hard to give their kids opportunities to experience life and learn through trial and error, through experimentation. And we strive to pass these values and ideals onto our foster kids, and to apply them in our company culture. When a client calls with a Problem with their home, we work together to find a cost effective solution to SOLVE that problem. We’re not looking to merely kick the can down the road. Cope Construction stands up for what’s right and does the job right. Experience shows it’s wise to call us sooner, rather than later.
What’s the short list of projects your teams typically handle?
Roofing, Siding, Windows, Doors, Decks, Gutters, Drainage, Kitchens, Bathrooms, Basements, Flooring, Plumbing, Electrical, Drywall, Spackle, & Painting. When it’s too hard for everyone else, it’s just right for us! When we’re finished, you’ll be proud to say, “It’s not just done, it was CopeBUILT.” In fact, your only complaint will be, “how come no-one told me to call COPE sooner?” There is a full list on our website.
What are some of the most unique or fun projects you get to work on?
Every spring we get calls to evict starlings (an invasive bird) from the exhaust vents of various homes around the area. A client hired us to remove an endless swimming pool from her enclosed sun-room, seal up the floor and convert the space into a home gym. Another client called us at the behest of her doctor who was afraid of her falling. She asked us to raise the floor of her sunken living room to the level of the rest of the main floor (along with the electrical outlets), and then install matching hardwood and refinish everything to match. We have video playlists of most of these projects on YouTube, along with a full exterior renovation, several roof replacements, deck expansions, screened in porches, and large kitchen and bathroom renovation projects.
It’s hard to go anywhere without seeing your signs, and trucks, or hearing your name. How did Cope Construction become such a prominent face in the Oxford Community?
We’ve been blessed with an extremely vocal, Loyal Tribe of Raving Fans (Praise God, Thank you Jesus!). These are clients of ours, past and present, who have experienced our unfettered commitment to excellence. We provided them with an outstanding customer service experience in all manner of construction services, from the first phone call, to the final invoice and they have been shouting from the roof tops, how much they love us and the outstanding experience our team provides. They’ve posted Five-Star reviews for us on google or facebook and are helping us become one of the most respected and sought after providers of home improvement and renovation services to families living along the Route 1 Corridor in Southern Chester County PA.
You mentioned Project: RAKE. Weren’t you also serving the Oxford Community before you started Cope Construction?
Absolutely. My husband and I were middle school Youth Pastors at the Christian Life Center in New London, and helped coordinate the client and construction side of the Project: RAKE home repair ministry from 2002 to 2010. This ministry arranged work-camp style service opportunities for teenagers to help low income families and seniors with free home repairs. Over 1000 individual teenagers jumped at the opportunity to serve their neighbors. There is a short video about our history in the community on the About Us page of www.CopeBULT.com
Is it hard, working and doing life 24-7 with your husband? Do you ever feel like you need a break?
Drew and I are part of that rare, 10% of couples, who work really really well together. When we were at the church, we shared an 8×10 office with a 3rd person: tight quarters. We try not to talk about work at the dinner table, but it’s inevitable, and we’re okay with that. We love solving problems. When we started dating in college, we both shared a passion for walking with teenagers through the tough stuff of life. We like each other. We enjoy spending time together, whether it’s working on job quotes for clients, or taking a road trip or a cruise vacation to get away from it all. We work hard, and we play hard. Owning Cope Construction and leading our team in serving our clients at a very high level, gives us the time freedom and flexibility to be the loving, present, supportive, resource-parents that our foster kids need us to be.
What area do you serve?
We are based in Cochranville PA just north of Pasquale’s Pizza. Most of our clients live along the Route 1 Corridor from Nottingham to Chadds Ford. We will typically travel up to 35 minutes from our shop. We tend to work North of Kirkwood Highway in Delaware, East of 272 from Little Britain to Kirkwood, South of Route 30 in Coatesville and Downingtown and West of 202 in Chadds Ford and Pocopson.
Do you do small jobs as well?
Absolutely, we offer 90 minute handyman service calls. We can provide paid consultations for DIYer’s or those who hired a questionable contractor and are looking for a second set of eyes to help them understand their options to protect their home. We do small repairs. And we love chasing down mystery water leaks and water damage from roofs, doors, windows, and siding. Those projects help our team keep their minds sharp, and we learn something from every mistake found on another job that we can use to help build the next one, even better.
How can homeowners contact you?
The fastest way to interact with our team is to visit Facebook.com/CopeBUILT and send us a facebook message with photos of your problem along with your contact details. You can learn about “Our Process” by clicking the big blue button on our website at www.CopeBUILT.com and this is especially important if you are thinking about a major renovation project. Our phone number is 484-748-7708 and you’ll find us @CopeBUILT on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Linked-In. We are a registered home improvement contractor #88078 in Pennsylvania and licensed in New Castle County, GC5534.
Anything else you’d like to add?
If you enjoy bing-watching netflix, allow me to encourage you to subscribe (for free) to our youtube channel. We have hundreds of videos organized in 28 different playlists. Some are funny (like Drew dressed up as Gandalf). Some are strange (like our bird videos and the ghost door episode). Most are informative and educational. If you are thinking about becoming a foster parents, we’d be happy to answer any questions you may have. And if you are a young person, thinking about a career in the trades, please visit our website, click on about, and employment, and then give me call. We’d be happy to chat with you about your career goals.