Every month we feature a contractor, business, or success story. Learning from others in the biz is the best kind of learning. This month, we’re featuring Tony Christensen with Kbartee Renovations.
Spring is upon us, which usually means business picks up. Tony with Kbartee Renovations has been in full swing through the winter, too. We’re grateful for the time he spent with us, sharing more about his business here in Sashco's home state of Colorado.
How did you get started in Log home finishing?
I graduated college with a degree I wasn’t going to do anything with and was looking for work. Scott Stropko (Sashco's Western Territory Manager) was a good family friend and he asked if I liked working outside. I said yes. He hooked me up with Jim Davis out of Wyoming and I started four days later. I worked with Jim for 3½ years and decided that I didn't want to travel as much anymore, so another business partner and I broke off on our own. I worked with my business partner here in Colorado for 11½ years. Then, about 18 months ago, I decided to split off on my own. Life. is. great! Every day I pinch myself to make sure it's real. I have an incredible job and I get to work in some incredible places. When I decided to be sole proprietor, it was a little scary. I never thought I’d be this busy. It’s mind blowing. I’m so grateful. There wasn’t a day during COVID that I didn’t work.
What’s your favorite part of this work?
Restoration. I like working on older homes. I like it when homeowners haven't liked their home for a while, but didn’t know they could get it the way they wanted. I simply apply expertise and elbow grease. I love taking a home, transforming it, and seeing how happy the homeowner is at the end. We're restoring their dream. Their smiles make it all worth it.
What’s your least favorite part?
Weather. It’s hard to work around the weather. But then, I had more working days in January and February of this year than I have in March and April because of spring snows. It’s also difficult to manage expectations for people who don’t know that we’re booked so far ahead. They call in June wanting their home done by end of the summer.
What’s your advice to a newbie?
I wish Sashco offered the Zero Failures Business Focus class when I started out 13 years ago. I’d be so much further ahead. I would tell people that your word and your reputation are everything in this industry. You better have an incredibly good work ethic and be able to work with lots of different personalities. Be willing to learn. Soak up everything. It's paramount to do good work and maintain high-quality relationships in this industry. If you get a bad rep with homeowners, that's also a bad rep with distributors and others in the industry. When you screw up (not if, because it will happen), be willing to fix things and learn from it. Don’t just cut and run. You learn who you don’t want to be before you learn who you do want to be.
What’s the future look like?
I’ve had opportunities recently to merge with another company or purchase another company, but I really like where I am now. I like having the smaller crew. It’s part of the appeal with homeowners, too. I’m the owner, I will be on the jobsite 85-90% of the time, they're dealing with me from A to Z. I’ve gotten really good at selling that. There are people who I know want to grow. That was me at first. I have two guys working for me and they've caught on really fast. Eventually, I know I will need to ease back and let those guys take some things over. In 5 to 10 years, maybe they'll want to buy me out and I can go buy my cattle ranch.
Speaking of cattle ranching, what’s the meaning of Kbartee?
Kbartee is a brand my wife's grandmother sewed into her wedding dress. It's a K, a Bar, and a T. As a gift for our first wedding anniversary, my wife registered it. I wanted something different for a company name and this just fit. It will be the brand for our cattle ranch someday.
Thanks again, Tony, for the time. Hit Tony up to talk shop!
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