The KCH in KCH Contracting stands for the initials of principal David Hagan’s children: Kendall, Connor, and Hunter. “My customers think it’s great that I named [the company] after my kids,” Hagan says. In a small town like Westfield, N.J., most folks know their neighbors, so chances are likely that someone will know those kids.
KCH Contracting specializes in the kind of job that first-belt suburbs like Westfield provide plenty of: an addition onto older homes. Additions are Hagan’s stock in trade—true for competitors in the area as well—but Hagan has given local homeowners looking for a large project additional reasons to visit him first.
Once he’s won over a client, Hagan provides “very engineered” estimates, room by room, floor by floor, “and all of the trades.” Instead of billing on percent of completion, the company invoices by line item.
- Fully staffed jobs. Though subcontractors play a large role in any addition, this company’s staff of 11 is almost all in the field, either project managers or lead carpenters.
- Dedication to keeping clients in the house. “One of our abilities is to keep people in the house,” Hagan says. The only way they would have to leave, he notes, is if every bathroom in the place was gutted. That does two things. First, clients are on hand to see what’s actually going on. “I can make change orders when the framing crew is there. I don’t have to drag them back out to the site at night or on weekends. They can see the work and make changes. That facilitates a better product,” he says, because often clients can’t really get the sense of the space, the feel of it, from plans. In addition, he says, they’re not wasting money on rent. “As long as they can wash dishes, they’re happy.”
- KCH offers design/build services, not with on-staff designers but with several architects the company works with. That is, the project, with client input, can be designed to a specific budget number in a process that yields three or four detailed estimates on options “so they can see where their costs are coming from.” Too many architects, Hagan says, “design something that costs a fortune.” Offering design/build services has “worked out well from a sales standpoint.”
- Built-ins are a big plus, and the ability to offer them provides one-stop-shop service for big project clients who want, say, a window seat with drawers for storage underneath it, or custom shelving and cabinets in the closet. KCH supplied built-ins on four out of its last five large projects. “I used to send all this other work out, but I decided to bring it in house.”
- Hagan sits on Westfield’s historical preservation committee and architectural review board. Three years ago, he was certified as a building inspector. “Even though I’m an engineer, it took a year.” Though he doesn’t work for any townships, he earned the certification to keep up with code and so “that there won’t be any issues with inspections.”