the ranks out West and I was eventually running my own crew on an oil rig. This opened a lot of doors for me, one of which was getting connected with Claire Johnson, who ran a cabinetry shop. Claire was really my mentor; I learned a lot of life lessons while learning the meticulous craft of cabinet making. And what brought you back to the East Coast, Karl? Well, the next chapter, as it were, was definitely a lot of mixed emotions. I initially came back, I returned to the East Coast for the funeral of my best friend, which landed me in Halifax. It was a sad time to say the least. While I was back in Nova Scotia for an extended time, I found another tremendous mentor in Bill Griffin. Bill’s genius in the field of Millwork had he really helped me take my custom kitchen journey to the next level. Well Karl that brings me to my next question: when people hear the word ‘custom,’ they think expense. How do you manage to keep your prices as competitive as they are? In some cases, people can sometimes assume that their renovation or project is the biggest job in Atlantic Canada and I get that – I think we all do. Even though people are dealing with spaces that might be bigger than the average kitchen, I want them to understand that we don’t treat two kitchens the same but, more importantly, that we don’t use fillers. Our standards are such that everything that’s going into your kitchen is there with great design and longevity in mind. We don’t use MDF or plywood, for example. Our doors and dovetail drawers are solid wood. All our materials and finishes are the best on the market. When we complete an install, we walk away with the full confidence that there are no issues with the build because we don’t take shortcuts. Can you tell the readers a little more about the “we” in Quest Kitchens? Well, as for my team, it’s myself, two other guys in my cabinet shop, and Charmaine on the paper side of things. There’s nothing at Quest Kitchens that’s subcontracted out. When someone calls or emails, it’s only myself or Charmaine they deal with. There are no middle-people when you’re dealing with us. The personal attributes and full-concentrated com- mitment is a great recipe for trust in this business. People want to be in the know every step of the way and we provide that. Our suppliers are also a big part of the “we,” I’d say. I’ve built great relationships with local and regional suppliers over the years. I’m a guy who takes pride in loyalty and when it comes to suppliers, reputation and standing in the community beats pricing any day of the week. I do business with suppliers who follow through with their word and who prize top quality and great time lines of delivery – those are some of the merits that establish long-lasting business relationships. We consider what’s reputable at every level at Quest. We deal with Future Doors, Mill Supply, Richelieu, McFaddens, and Robert Bury, to name a few.
You’ve got to be thinking about expanding your team with the buzz around your brand these days – right, Karl? I’ll say this when it comes to the buzz, David: When we go through the hiring process and we line-up criteria, here’s what we’re thinking: Can you read a measuring tape? Do you have a positive attitude and a list of references that doesn’t make you hesitate when I ask you if I can call on them? Do you have safety-certified work boots and transportation? Do you fit the family-run business feel? And – for safety reasons, clarity, and alertness – can you pass random drug testing? As for actual cabinetry experience, it’s usually a good thing that you don’t have much. I prefer people to have a fresh start so that I can show them how I like to have things done. An overlap of habits can be counterproductive. “There are no middle-people when you’re dealing with us. The personal attributes and full- concentrated commitment is a great recipe for trust in this business. People want to be in the know every step of the way and we provide that.” Speaking of buzz, social media has taken sharing ideas about kitchen design to a whole new level. How has this changed the way you do business? It’s directly tied to the main message I leave every potential new customer with after a quote. Charmaine and I and the guys on the ground are here to make sure that your kitchen is designed, built, and installed to your specifications. We don’t consider anything in terms of non-standard requests. The reality is that kitchens are becoming more intricate with venues like Pinterest and Houzz. Even if your kitchen is unique, it’s still yours, and that’s what we care about.
JULY 2017 • SPOTLIGHT ON BUSINESS MAGAZINE
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