Kodiak Construction was launched in Grand Rapids 11 years ago by Greg Olson, just two months after the 9/11 attacks brought the U.S. economy to a virtual standstill for months.
Kodiak survived that, and then managed to survive the Recession, which decimated the home construction industry throughout the U.S., and in West Michigan in particular. But Kodiak’s forte has always been in home remodeling, which apparently didn’t suffer as much as new home construction did.
Olson said he believes Kodiak is now one of the larger remodelers in West Michigan, with annual revenues “in the millions.” Olson’s subcontractors are working on 50 to 70 projects a month, including homes located from Traverse City south to the Indiana border, and a few as far east as suburban Detroit. The majority of Kodiak’s focus, however, is on the Grand Rapids region.
Before starting Kodiak, Olson, 49, had worked as a home remodeling consultant for national construction companies and then was recruited to work in sales at a large computer company in Chicago.
“My background is really sales and marketing,” he said.
In the remodeling business, his strategy has been to approach a project from the client’s perspective to ensure the client’s satisfaction, so Kodiak offers high-end windows, metal roofs and siding, backed by established companies with a record of customer satisfaction.
Olson said he had been installing tubs and shower liners made by BCI Acrylic Bath Systems in Palatine, Ill., for several years.
Rick Hirschhaut, senior vice president of Bath Planet, said BCI is 13 years old and launched Bath Planet late last year, as a way to link BCI closer to high quality dealer/installers. BCI already has 80 Bath Planet dealerships around the nation.
“Everybody seems to have a bad home improvement experience, or they know somebody who has. And the bar (in the home improvements industry), admittedly, is set very low,” said Hirschhaut.
He said he has heard that home improvement was ranked the third most common source of consumer complaints last year by the Better Business Bureau. Auto repair was number one.
“And that’s pretty consistent, year after year, so we really are very sincere about striving to be the breath of fresh air,” said Hirschhaut. “We empathize with home owners and we understand their frustrations.”
To reduce the “stress and risk” felt by homeowners undertaking a bath remodeling project, a key step by BCI, according to Hirschhaut, was acquiring the Good Housekeeping Seal. It is essentially a warranty that promises a refund or replacement for defective products within two years of purchase.
Olson said the windows installed by Kodiak also carry the Good Housekeeping Seal, and he was impressed that BCI had gone to the expense to qualify for the Good Housekeeping Seal, too.
“That’s like a quarter-million-dollar investment,” he said. Getting the approval also takes endorsement by an independent third party that checks out the company applying for it.
Olson noted that Kodiak already has high repeat business with its clients in general.
“That’s important,” he added.