MH+D Inside Out: Building Forts with Trademark’s Ben Trout

“Most people build because they have that creative spirit,” says Ben Trout. As the president of Trademark, a full-service residential contractor, Trout has learned how to turn two of his childhood passions—drawing and building—into a lucrative career. Trout explains his process and values to Maine Home+Design.

Q. What types of projects do you do?

A. We do new homes, remodels, and additions. Most of the jobs that we do involve creating at least some new space, but a lot of the time it involves working with existing space as well.

Q. How do you ensure that the project stays true to a client’s vision?

A. I’ve been very lucky in that over the past twenty years I’ve had very few difficult clients. If it feels right, the project will go well, but it’s also true that just because you get along with someone doesn’t mean the project is going to be perfect. It requires constant vigilance. We have a weekly meeting throughout the whole project. It just keeps everyone on the same page so that we don’t have a chance to come unglued. Building with someone makes for a very intense relationship. As a builder you’re entrusted with executing someone’s vision, and you have to pay attention all the time.

Q. How does your relationship with clients change over time?

A. When you first meet, they have their walls up, but over time the layers peel away and you’re really close. Any issues that arise are then hashed out and resolved in real time without a lot of filter. Clients get comfortable with you.

Q. How did you get into building and why?

A. Most people in building come up through the trades. I’ve always been a builder. I started when I was very young. I was a laborer when I was fifteen in the summers, and then I became a carpenter. Most people build because they have that creative spirit. As an adult, I basically do all the same stuff I did as a kid, like play music, build forts, and draw. I play music in a band. I build houses now instead of forts, and I draw a lot for work.

Q. How would you sum up what you’re trying to achieve with each project?

A. We want to build something that’s aesthetically pleasing and that’s going to last, and we want people to enjoy living in it, as well as the process of getting there, too.

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