Building on a Solid Foundation
Wendy Cohen’s expertise and passion is the power behind PowerHouse Advisors, a valuable resource for professionals in the design/build industry.
Photography by Jim Prisching
After 17 years as vice president of sales & marketing at Orren Pickell Designers & Builders, Wendy Cohen was ready for a new challenge. With experience in almost every area imaginable in the luxury design build industry—from land acquisition and brokering to prospecting and branding—Cohen decided to use her expertise to help professionals in the design/build industry improve their company’s reputation and business plan.
Cohen’s desire to help talented designers, contractors, and builders along the North Shore, in Chicago, the Midwest, and across the country has catapulted the small consulting firm based in Highland Park—aptly named PowerHouse Advisors—into a growing company preparing to expand across the United States. “I have a tremendous amount of passion to help [these companies] and figure out what makes them different,” Cohen says. “We then develop a strategy so that in a year or two they can really see a growth pattern.”
According to Cohen, many professionals do not have the time or resources to step away from their clients’ projects and take a hard look at how their own company is operating.
“Entrepreneurs often say, ‘I am so busy with returning clients’ calls and working with subcontractors and vendors that I don’t have a chance to look at how my company is viewed by the general public, what I’m doing right or doing wrong, or if I am as profitable as I should be,’” Cohen explains. Backed by years of experience, Cohen is able to guide professionals on what changes need to be implemented for them to reach their goal. Tools like PowerHouse’s own “Platinum Rolodex—PowerHouse Platinum Professionals,” their collection of highly recommended professionals in the design build industry, is yet another testament of what this consulting firm has to offer professionals.
A fairly small-sized consulting firm, PowerHouse Advisors is able to be selective about who they choose to work with. “We make sure that the people we consult for are the best of the best,” Cohen says. “We look for high integrity companies whose owners are committed to customer service and are open to working as a team and collaborating with other companies.” Above all, PowerHouse Advisors are interested in finding professionals who truly care about their reputation and are more than willing to stand behind their company and work. “We want to make sure that everyone is putting in all that incredible intensity and effort to move forward so that they can see the success they would be able to achieve,” Cohen says.
Efforts to help companies reach their full potential has led Cohen and the PowerHouse Advisors team to develop PowerHouse SMART (Sales, Marketing, Applications, Resources, and Training) Strategies Symposiums. This program is a great education and networking opportunity for leaders in luxury real estate, development, design, and construction. Held on a quarterly basis, the invitation-only seminars give insight on process improvement, business development, and much more. “Participants also get an opportunity to meet with other people that are of their same caliber and can actually develop collaborative relationships to help grow their business,” Cohen says.
Collaborating with groups like the National Association of Home Builders and the American Society of Interior Designers, Cohen has been successful in forging a path for PowerHouse Advisors and PowerHouse SMART to grow nationally. With four chapters in Illinois, three in Wisconsin, and a recent addition in New Jersey, PowerHouse SMART is set to continue expanding across the country in the near future. Cohen’s experience working with these national organizations also benefits the companies she consults for. “I get the opportunity to see what is happening globally in the industry and share success stories and things that are working well in other markets,” she says.
While PowerHouse Advisors continues to help their clients improve their business, Cohen and her team are quick to remind owners of the importance of giving back to the community. While serving on the Board of Directors for Designs for Dignity (designsfordignity.org), Cohen has seen firsthand how professionals in the design build industry can use their talent, resources, and connections to help those making a difference in the community. The group collaborates with a number of well-known companies in the industry, including PowerHouse Advisors, and has touched more than 100 charities. “Designs for Dignity is a huge passion of mine, and I do try to inspire everyone to pick something that they care about,” Cohen says. “If you care about something besides your own personal profitability, others will see you and want to share in what you are passionate about.”
It’s that passion and dedication that has helped Cohen move her own company forward. “I feel like I can pretty much consult with almost any firm within the industry, help them assess where they are today, and develop a strategy to move their company forward,” Cohen says.
PowerHouse Advisors is located at 1210 Sherwood Road in Highland Park. For more information, visit powerhouseadvisors.com, or call 847-767-7077.