Jeff Kuhn took a leave of absence from teaching high school English in 1986 when he began taking jobs in roofing and siding. What started out as small jobs became a business and then a full-fledged career. Kuhn never went back to his teaching job, but he also never stopped learning.
That’s especially true with sales, which he did singlehandedly for the first 20 years for Kuhn Construction, without any kind of business background but a master’s degree in education.
Today, Kuhn Construction specializes in kitchens, baths, basements, and whole-house remodels, designed mostly by in-house staff, but some freelancers as well. “It grew and grew and I got into design and build early on. I love that concept,” Kuhn says.
Like a lot of full-service remodeling companies, Kuhn Construction only saw smaller projects, and fewer of them with the onset of the recession. So he bought into Liners Direct, a one-day bath product selling anywhere from $6,000 to 8,000 per job.
That new business was a challenge, Kuhn says, because success depends heavily on generating leads. So the company began putting marketers in big-box retail stores and setting up booths at local events, such as street fairs. The first time Kuhn Construction showed up with a booth at street fair it took 55 names and leads the first day. Then, “the challenge was to contact them,” he says.
Today Kuhn Construction divides its energies between design/build and the liner business, with handyman jobs helping to later generate additional large projects. It is also exploring the idea of adding an exterior division for roofing, siding, and windows.
- “We have people we can go back to who are willing to let us bring other clients into their homes,” Kuhn says. That has become a very important part of the sales process, especially on large jobs.
- Kuhn Construction set up a call center to handle leads for the bath liner business and eventually put the call center to work phoning previous remodeling clients. That tactic last year generated $800,000 worth of design/build work.
- “We are not afraid to take retainers on everything,” Kuhn says. Not just for large jobs, but even for bathrooms—it locks work into place.