When Mike Klein, his late father, Burt, and Seymour Turner were named Big50 in 1989, their Chicago-area company, Airoom Inc., had been in business for 31 years. Its 25 office staff and subcontracted field crew completed $6 million in business.

What a difference 15 years makes.

Today, Airoom Architects & Builders, of Lincolnwood, Ill., employs 165 people in every facet of the business, working with 280 subcontractors. It's on track for $80 million in revenues this year, making it the largest design/build remodeler in the country.

Airoom will complete 500 projects this year, averaging $160,000 each.

“Our goal is to revolutionize the industry,” says Klein (right), CEO. “Taking fragmented Ma and Pa's and a typically unrewarding process for most people and turning it into something great and systematic.”

Seymour Turner, left, and Michael B. Klein
Compoa Seymour Turner, left, and Michael B. Klein

Airoom invested several million dollars to work with Microsoft for three years to launch an intranet-based system that allows the company to manage design and construction from the first call through the last.

The solution manages documents, issues, and more than 130 resources, even training. The system relies on “work cues,” which notify employees when one step is finished and when the next one starts.

The intranet system now supports 80 users at three offices. It already has reduced timelines by 33% (from six months to four) and cut costs by 5%.

The system underpins a process the customer does see, trademarked S.T.A.R.T.: System To Assure Resources and Timing. It assures clients that best practices are used through a 10-step process on all Airoom job-sites (there are usually about 100 jobs going at any given time).

“We wouldn't do this if we didn't have regional and national aspirations,” Klein says. “It only becomes viable when we go into multiple states, multiple offices.”