Dean Alm started his business, Napa Valley Home Inspections, in 2008 — right as the recession was taking hold on the economy.
“It was tough breaking in,” Alm admitted. But with persistence, he was able to survive the economic downturn.
Today he has a successful business offering “my lifetime of property experience to help people with their real estate transactions.”
What’s a common misconception you get about your industry?
People have a tendency to look for the cheapest home inspector and that’s a bad idea.
Do you have any tips for those who need an inspection?
Do your homework. This is one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make in your life. You have a right and responsibility to know what you bought. Happy homes require a smart start. That’s corny but it sums it up.
What’s something people might be surprised to know about you?
I have a bachelor’s degree in economics and urban design and development. I also spent eight tough years as a Realtor in the ’80s after college, before home inspectors were common.
What was your first job?
My first real job was as a welders helper on a pipeline at age 14 in Alberta, Canada. I made enough that summer to buy my first car, an orange VW bug.
What was your childhood ambition?
I was going to be an architect.
What is the biggest challenge your business has faced?
Getting Realtors to understand that I simply report what I see, it’s not positive or negative, it just is what it is. Now that they have the information they can guide their clients (to negotiate) effectively. Every home has issues. Clients have a right and a responsibility to know the true condition of the home before they move in.
If you could change one thing about your business, what would it be?
I’d like to limit the number of crawl spaces I visit every week. Delegating that task is hard to do when my reputation is on the line.
Who do you most admire in the business world?
My father was a farm kid from the prairies, the youngest son of a Swedish immigrant lumberjack who died at 92 in 1972. Both of these men made a real contribution to the advancement of our family and their communities. I have the utmost respect and admiration of both of these humble, honest men for their victories and their vices.
What’s on your to-do list?
I have a solar business in the wings.
Which other Napa County business person(s) would you like to see featured in “10 Questions for …”?
Pat Sweeney, Silver Auto Service.
Cyndi Gates, Gates Estates Realty.