Marine Corps veteran and Buffalo native Clinton Hawkins launched a franchise location of Pillar To Post Home Inspectors more than a year ago. He relocated to West Seneca recently and has been focusing on helping homebuyers of all kinds, with a focus on those with a military background.
Hawkins worked for years as a contractor before joining Pillar To Post. He said this experience and knowing how to build a home from the ground up and tear it down again provides his clients with the peace of mind and assurance that their inspection will be accurate.
"I know the inner workings of homes and the building of homes, and I also bring my customer service experience and leadership qualities to Pillar To Post," he said.
When considering what company to pursue, Hawkins said Pillar to Post offered more for veterans, such as discounts and outreach programs.
Hawkins said the program allows him flexibility with his clients. For this same reason, he joined Heroes Home Advantage, an organization within the real estate community where members give back a percentage of earnings to veterans, first responders and teachers when they purchase a new home.
"My work through the Heroes Home Advantage program is huge; it means a lot," he said.
Hawkins served in the Marine Corps from 1995 to 1999 and was stationed at Twentynine Palms in California and then Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
Since returning to Western New York, Hawkins has become involved in a number of military-focused organizations. On the side, he coaches football at Canisius High School, a hobby of his for seven years.
He also served on the board of directors for B Team Buffalo, a nonprofit led by young professionals dedicated to promoting civic pride throughout the Buffalo area.
"I enjoy being a home inspector and providing people the satisfaction of owning a home that's not going to fall down," he said.
He said business has been steady as he's developed relationships with local real estate agencies with the help of crafty doughnut-box marketing and other treats.
"On weekends, I'll go to open houses where Realtors are showing houses. I'll take a bottle of water to them with my label that has my logo and information on it. Give them candy, mints, just to say hi," he said.
Home inspections are recommended to all homebuyers, Hawkins said.
"The purpose of a home inspection is to make sure first that it's safe, and that there's nothing hiding - expensive repairs that you might run into," he said. "It's not a pass or fail. It's up to the homebuyer to decide, based on that home inspection, whether this is the home you want."
He said home inspections are being offered from other companies for as little as $200, but clients should be wary of these quotes.
"That home inspector is somebody who shows up and says, 'OK, I got one. I'm going to run through it,' and then is gone," Hawkins said.
He said to also be careful about additional costs that some inspectors add on during the process.
"A normal, good home inspection should cost somewhere between $350 and $450, or $475," he said.
Pillar to Post Home Inspectors serves homebuyers and sellers throughout Erie and Niagara counties.
Pillar To Post is also a member of VetFran, a program of the International Franchise Association that helps vets purchase franchises and has achieved 5-star status in that program, the top ranking possible. In 2017, one-third of new Pillar to Post franchisees were military vets.
For more information on the Pillar to Post program, visit www.pillartopost.com/clintonhawkins.