Chris Payson

Chris has always had a passion for building and remodeling. He likes to say it’s in his blood. With the passion he’s had since childhood, and in a bold move of faith, Chris opened West Chester Design Build (now COCOON) in the Spring of 2007. Chris has been continually refining his business to serve his clients better ever since and counts it all as a blessing. All the normal triumphs and trials that come along in life and in business have continued to refine him as a man, husband, father, and friend. He loves his family dearly and has grown COCOON into a business that everyone can be proud of.

How did you arrive at COCOON, what path brought you here?

I had always had a desire to start a business that would provide for my family and I. My military training and in all the industry jobs I ever held I never lost the fire in my belly to eventually set out on my own. It always felt like a calling on my life, so in my opinion, when starting the business, it was just a matter of “when”, never “if”. In 2007 it seemed like a perfect time. I resigned my previous position as a designer and project manager and planted West Chester Design/Build. I have been tending to it ever since and am so happy to be able to do it with such a great group of people!

Who have you worked with in the past? And what have you done for them?

Paper Route (Daily Times) – Ridley, Pennsylvania

Yeah, I was kinda like a Newsie. Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

My Father’s Home Remodeling Company – Delaware County, Pennsylvania

I worked here during high school as often as my father needed me. Which felt pretty often! I essentially worked for free as slave labor! HA! But I got a roof over my head, meals, and picked up a lot of industry experience in those early years. I am grateful.

United States Air Force (Civil Engineering / Structural Specialist)

Would remodel buildings on Dover Air Force Base as my main job each day. On top of that, I also had a great opportunity to serve on Dover’s well respected Honor Guard. Dover AFB at the time, had the largest military mortuary in the U.S. Me and my team had the responsibility of performing receiving ceremonies honoring active duty soldiers who died at war overseas. I was enlisted and serving on September 11th, 2001. Many of the fallen victims from that tragic day were also taken to Dover for processing. My greatest privilege in those times was being able to honor the soldiers who gave their lives for our freedom.

Gardner/Fox Associates – Architecture and Construction – Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania

My first position out of the military. I really wanted to start my own business right away, but advice from family and friends prevailed. I applied as a carpenter, and they agreed to hire me as one. But based on my experience they also offered me a position helping in the estimating department. I would be reviewing drawings and helping process construction costs for our clients. I would walk subcontractors through proposed projects to get accurate costs together for remodeling projects. I took the estimating position because I knew I needed to get more inner office industry experience under my belt for when I eventually started my own business. I actually said in my face to face interview with the owner “I want to start my own business one day, but I am not ready yet” (and they still hired me! Who says that?!) While the position didn’t pay as much as a carpenter, I was able to earn extra money by cleaning their offices on nights and weekends. This extra income was much needed as I was also going to college at night and had gotten married to Angela and actually had our first son Christopher during my employment here. Grateful for my time here and the provision it provided my family.

Ruggiero Development Group & Tropea Builders

I resigned Gardner/Fox when I was offered a position as Designer and Project Manager with a development company. Ruggiero/Tropea builds new single family homes in Chester County, PA as well as down at the Delaware beach points. Here I was responsible to work closely with realtors, home buyers, and site supervisors to get new homes customized for each buyer. I learned a great deal about the differences between new construction and home remodeling. I also loved seeing how a large development project took shape. I used AutoCAD a lot in this position and really started to hone my design skills. I still was attending college classes at night.

How long have you been doing what you do?

I tell people I’ve been in construction my whole life, that because my father had me observing and helping with his business from as young as I can remember. After high school, I continued in this trade while serving in the Military, then again with my two consecutive positions before starting West Chester Design Build in 2007.

What are you known for professionally, what do you have a knack for?

I am known for designing what I call “Common Sense Spaces” for folks. Homes and spaces within a home that just make sense and are beautiful and practical. This includes helping our clients understand the “why” behind our practical approach to their home designs. To be honest, between you and me I am not a huge fan of the head in the clouds “artsy fartsy” way many architects and home designers approach their projects. They always seem to want to include crazy features and think they work with unlimited budgets, and sorry, that’s just not the world I live in. While we greatly value and encourage out of the box creativity and have won numerous awards for design, I always think practically, and with an eye towards cost. This way I can squeeze as much value out of a project for our clients and be a true friend to them. Remodeling is not an inexpensive undertaking, so by always keeping a close eye on design efficiency it has provided an added value to our clients and that has helped set us apart from our competitors over the years.

What’s the one problem you are best at solving for your clients? What do your ideal clients say about you?

I love coming up with common-sense solutions for the problems that we encounter on renovation projects. There is always a way to get something done, and it often takes creativity and a deep knowledge of how homes structurally and mechanically work. I have been in this home remodeling industry for a long long time, so I know a lot of people too. If we uncover a problem that has us scratching our heads, we will bring in the best folks around to make recommendations for the issue and partner with our clients to get it resolved as quickly and efficiently as possible.

What are you most passionate about professionally? What most excites you about your work & the contribution you can make?

I love surprising our clients with what is possible with their homes. For the most part, no two houses are the same, and for sure no two homeowners are the same. Each home holds unique needs and possibilities for design options. Often our clients will have us out to their home for a consultation, and while out there we help diagnose the issues they are having and often bring new ideas which aim at alleviating their problems that they hadn’t thought was even a possibility. I love customizing a house to be a perfect home for people. We are all about people and families and we make space they love to live in. When we can help make their lives more enjoyable we become almost like superheroes in their eyes, and who doesn’t like being a superhero!

What are you passionate about personally? What do you really enjoy? What can’t you stop talking about?

If you get to know me you will know pretty quickly that I absolutely love being a husband and father. I consider it the highest privilege and also the greatest responsibility of my life. I can’t help but smile each time I think about any one of them as I truly know that they are each unique gifts from God. Having Jesus Christ as my savior and my family by my side is all I need in life, everything else is icing on the cake. Now if you were to listen in on a typical day at home and what topics we talk most about it would be these pretty often: Star Wars, food, Disney World, Minecraft, Work, Homework, Ice Cream, Elsa and Anna, Pook (Don’t ask!), Eagles, Flyers, Sixers, Phillies, and the need for more i-pad chargers.

Where can we find you when you’re not working? What’s your favorite way to spend a weekend or a Sunday afternoon?

Anywhere with a Philadelphia sports team game on, a cold beer, and my wife and kids nearby. During football season my wife will put something in the crockpot before we leave for church. When we get back home the house smells amazing! We eat lunch just as the 1pm Eagles game is about to start!

Where did you grow up and why aren’t you there now?

I grew up in Folsom, Delaware County. Down that way, it’s often referred to as just “Ridley”. Angela my wife is also from “Delco”, but she’s from Havertown which is much less “Delco” than Ridley. We both are grateful for our Delco roots, we feel it’s unique influence has helped make us into the people we are today. When we got married we rented in Drexelbrook Apartments for a year before we bought our first home in Exton. It was a hike from where we grew up, but we knew we wanted to establish new roots and raise our family in Chester County.

In the end, how do you want to be remembered?

Great question. To be honest, I just want to be remembered as a man who loved Jesus, had a genuine firm faith in the goodness and grace of God. As a faithful and romantic husband to Angela, and as a father who would always point his Kids to Jesus as their only hope. As a man who would put others first and as a generous giver.

Any volunteer activities you’re crazy about?

I serve as a helper in Sunday School at our church. It has been great to have down to earth conversations about life and the bible with elementary school-aged kids.

Any nonprofits you love, & why?

We have been members of our local church for many years. Through our church we have supported missionaries overseas, along with supporting local and foreign charities.

Any awards or medals, or even medallions? Personal okay, too.

I was awarded several awards during my time in the military. Being named the Honor Graduate of my class from the Naval Construction Training Center in Gulfport, MS. Was a highlight for me.

Our company was awarded Remodeling Magazine’s BIG 50 status in 2014. We were all proud of that! As well as the numerous “Contractor of the Year” Awards through our local NARI (National Association of Remodeling Industry) chapter.

What would be impossible for you to give up?

Probably chocolate

What is your favorite Movie?

The Sandlot (Forrreeevvver!)

What is your favorite TV Show or Series?

I love The Profit and Shark Tank on CNBC.

What is a personal favorite quote?

“Always remain teachable” – Chris Payson Sr.

What is your favorite restaurant?

We love a place called The Surfing Crab down in Lewes, Delaware.

What is your favorite vacation spot?

Disney World and Rehoboth Beach Delaware

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