by Bill Kalin, CR, UDCP
Why did you start Kalin Construction?
I always had it in my mind that I was going to start my own construction business. Growing up, I was fascinated watching my father build our own homes, even though by profession he was a pilot for American Airlines. I became his assistant holding the “trouble” light. I was a sponge wanting to know it all.
It was this love of all things construction, and the creativity and problem solving that became the basis to start my own construction company.
What steps did you take to get your business off the ground?
- I worked as an apprentice for other construction companies.
- I spent two years working for other successful remodeling companies that gave me enough confidence to create my own business systems and practices.
- The final step was to obtain my General Contractors license in Denver. I am very proud of that designation and take the rules and regulations of the license very seriously.
What did you do before remodeling?
I graduated from University of Colorado with a degree in political science, tried my hand as a stockbroker and then worked in medical equipment sales for five years. After my years in medical equipment sales, I decided it was time to get serious about my dream of starting a construction business.
Is this your first business?
Yes. First and last!
What was your biggest misconception about the remodeling industry?
That running a construction job is different than running a construction company.
What components have you used to “grow” your business?
Processes: I implement what I have learned by “doing.” I further expand my construction knowledge by a constant devotion to continuing education.
Technology: I have mastered the powerful tools within QuickBooks to help run my business.
Marketing: In the past my marketing strategies comprised of hoping people would take notice of my yard signs and by client referrals. But this past year, I realized it was time to invest in some other marketing campaigns. I redid the Kalin Construction website last year and am revising the site again. Other marketing efforts have included being a Gold Star member of the Better Business Bureau in the Denver/Boulder area and our steadfast affiliation with NARI.
Kalin Construction will also produce its first quarterly e-newsletter this spring. We are excited about that launch.
Branding/social media: We redesigned our Kalin Construction logo last year, which has a more modern and current look. We use our logo on everything Kalin Construction, from yard signs to presentation folders, to social media sites.
We are reving up our presence in the social media world. I have employed the help of a few people to make sure Kalin Construction is readily visible and regularly updated for the public’s benefit via Facebook, Yelp and LinkedIn.
How has the remodeling profession changed since your involvement?
- There are so many more supplies to choose from and so many more supply houses to work with. The methods and technology we can now utilize in our designs is amazing. The collaboration between designers and builders, with all the methods and materials to choose from, is mind-boggling AND exciting.
- I think the professional remodeling industry has been challenged with the advent of all the “do-it-yourself” home shows on television. From these shows, people think that projects can be done quickly and at half the cost, and that they can do complicated projects themselves! This trend has hurt the overall remodeling profession as well as made it more competitive.
What is the most unusual project your company has completed?
One project that was both unusual and difficult was taking a basement crawl space and converting it into a living space. During excavation, we came across a hidden staircase underneath the house, which led to a hidden room. The house was a turn of the century home so the room was not a bomb shelter. We decided to call it “the catacomb.”
There is no typical remodeling job. Every day brings a lot of unusual circumstances and finds along the way, which forces you to be creative about your approach about solving the problems and coming up with solutions. That makes the business challenging and invigorating.
What advice would you offer those just starting out?
I once heard a young man at a jobsite tell one of the older professionals that he was there to learn the “tricks of the trade.” The older man advised the younger one that he needed to “learn the trade first and then the tricks would follow.” I thought that was great advice then and I still do now.
My most favorite mistake:
Leaving an open can of expanding foam in a job box, which of course, exploded.
What does being part of NARI mean?
I am genuinely proud to be affiliated with NARI. It boosts my level of business professionalism to my clients. I enjoy being a part of an organization that represents the remodeling industry. NARI is a fabulous educational resource. Their nationally recognized certifications distinguish me to my clients as a remodeler who is serious about his profession.
What have you done to grow your business during the difficult economy?
- I changed my focus from “fix and flip” projects to jobs for hire.
- I focused on superior customer service. Kalin Construction’s motto and tag line is “We keep the headache and heartache out of construction.” Our happy and satisfied clients have been a tremendous business generator for us always, in difficult times or not.
What motivates you every day?
Working for myself. Having a positive impact on my community and being an integral part of building people’s dreams.
Bucket list career accomplishments?
I am proud to have started a business from the ground up. I am relieved that I weathered the great recession. Recently, I am most happy about achieving my Certified Remodeler designation in January 2015 from NARI.
Number of Employees: Five
1/2015: Certified Remodeler
6/2014: Universal Design Certified Professional