COUNTER POINT: Joe Pakuris, left, and Eddy Keegan are co-owners of Kitchen Countertop Center of New England, a custom-renovation company. They say the firm’s business has grown 20 percent each year they’ve been in business.
PBN PHOTO/RUPERT WHITELEY
By Rebecca Keister PBN Staff Writer
Find an untapped business niche, identify and cater to your ideal client, perform exceptional work and grow slowly as your needs dictate.
Oh, and make sure you’re doing something you love.
That’s the path Joe Pakuris and Eddy Keegan, owners of Kitchen Countertop Center of New England, a custom kitchen and bathroom renovation firm in Providence, have taken to grow what could be deemed a luxury-market company 20 percent in each year they’ve been in business. And that despite opening just before an economic meltdown from which Rhode Island still is struggling to recover.
“The people we marketed to saw the value in what we were offering because nobody else could offer what we were doing,” Pakuris said.
Pakuris and Keegan met almost a decade ago while both were working as part-time salespeople at a flooring company that Pakuris did not want to name.
“Eddy and I really had the love for taking something that was not good-looking, that was run down and turning it into something beautiful. We both had real good values and had come from a company that was horrible. We [knew] we definitely could do a lot better,” Pakuris said.
Nine years ago the team decided to officially go it on their own, forming Five Star Home Improvement and focusing on flooring and other small home improvements for a couple of years before renaming the company in 2006 and turning their attention to expanding into full-scale kitchen and bath remodeling.
The move was made after, as Pakuris said, they noticed an untapped market in establishing a company that handled remodeling projects without subcontractors, which they had been doing.
They began building departments one by one, first hiring a delivery team, then a demo team, then carpenters and electricians, then plumbers and a tile crew.
They also added on designers to complement the one they began business with and grew to 40 employees.
Attracting quality employees hasn’t been an issue.
Pakuris said the goal is to keep employees as happy as customers and the company offers several retention incentives, including a profit-sharing plan, paying about 20 percent above the industry-average salary, and a full benefits package.