Case Studies

KANE Construction Inc.

Exceeding Construction Industry Expectations in the Mid-Atlantic

KANE Construction Inc. (KANE) was founded in 1997 as a commercial interior construction firm in Bethesda, Md., by local construction executive Dennis O. Kane. With 10 years of commercial construction experience at an executive level, Dennis was a well-known player in the industry; the Kane family has had hundreds of people working in various trades throughout the Mid-Atlantic.

Now 16 years and three offices later, the firm calls Gaithersburg, Md., home to a sparkling new LEED-certified and designed headquarters. The company’s location allows the team to service the Baltimore and Washington, D.C., area.

Not one for the status quo, Dennis explains that he wanted to grow the brand and scope of the family business, rather than having more family members working in the same place doing the same thing. As the consummate middle child with eight siblings, Dennis was intent on finding a way in which to stand out in the crowd while still embracing his family’s business reputation for excellence.

“There’s a lot of history to it, and when you already enjoy a rather favorable reputation regionally, striking out on your own in the construction industry of all things is a bit counter-intuitive,” he explains. “But the challenge is what makes me tick.”

According to Dennis, leveraging the brand into a potentially more lucrative industry was his way of making a mark of his own, rather than just fill orders. “I quit my position with my father’s firm in order to sort out my options,” he continues. “After a few months of soul searching, I caught on with a local construction firm and went about learning the business from the ground up. I had developed tons of contacts and the real estate market was booming – it was now or never. I came back to my father with a plan. He loaned me money and I named it after him.”

Dennis explains that KANE works in commercial office construction. “If it’s inside an office building, we will do it,” he continues. “The firm racks up annual revenue of approximately $20 million; we are bigger and more sophisticated than the average $20 million company. We take on projects that meet the core competency of our staff and are in need of the strong leadership we provide as a member of the team. Our staff is cut from the same cloth as people you would find at an interiors division of a larger competitor. But at KANE, the whole company is programmed toward the needs commercial interiors and renovations. Right down to the uniforms and trucks assigned to our field staff.”

A Growing Portfolio

For more than 16 years, KANE has been performing high-quality interior construction projects for commercial clients across the region. The professional team of 25 employees works with a number of reliable subcontractors and suppliers to deliver successful projects time and again.

“We want to employ best practices and control the project,” Dennis explains. “We put one superintendent, who usually has about 20 years of experience, on each job. He has one job to run from layout to punch list and his project manager will run maybe two or three other projects at the time depending on the complexity.”

Of course, the company utilizes subcontractors when necessary. “We put subs on the projects based on requirements of the particular job and the resources of the firm,” he continues. “Fit is very important. We have good relationships and have multiple subs for every trade. It’s all based on the difficulty, the scope and/or the pace of the job in question. Price is but a variable and we will not compromise our reputation for quality to save a few bucks.”

The firm’s projects include work for a number of major owners and institutional clients. “A few years back we worked on an $11 million project that covered 300,000 square feet,” says Dennis. “It wasn’t much different from the 36,000-square-foot project for the headquarters of John Hopkins Medicine International in Baltimore we just completed. It’s about bringing leadership to your profession. In fast track construction, if you can demonstrate that, they clients will find you.”

The company is also currently working on the headquarters for the Bank of Georgetown. “It’s about an 8-year-old bank in Washington that is very well run and growing tremendously,” Dennis explains. “That’s another $2.5 million project covering four floors. That will finish up in December, we just started it. We are also working on the Howard County Department of Health Headquarters. This 54,000-square-foot, $3 million job will be done in November.”

Lasting Customer Relationships

While the recent recession took a major toll on the construction industry, KANE remained stable throughout the tough years. According to Dennis, with business owners tightening up cash flow, many potential clients took deferred large capital projects and moved toward renovating in place.

“The way I see it, you are always going to have competition in life,” he says. “So you have a choice to lead or follow. We prefer to lead.”

Dennis’ mindset has served the firm well, and the KANE team has been able to deliver major projects in an organized, efficient and professional manner making the firm a leading choice for interior construction services for law firms, universities, hospitals and even local governments.

“We have very deep relationships with clients,” Dennis explains. “So much so, that we probably are not a good barometer of the overall economic environment. Our business is a reflection of our client’s success and their real estate needs. We try to contribute to that success while leveraging relationships in other end user verticals to bring consistency to our business platform.”

While KANE has a number of major projects coming down the pipeline, its niche is one of nimbleness and flexibility. The team will continue to work with existing customers while reaching out for new opportunities that fit. With a second office opening in Baltimore, the staff will be able to better access projects and clients, expanding the potential for efficient project performance into a growing geographic footprint.

KANE has become a leader in the market for a few simple reasons. The team’s clear vision, leadership capabilities and experienced, professional and courteous staff have garnered rave reviews from clients past and present.

“What gives me the greatest sense of pride about our business is just being able to prevent and solve our clients’ challenges from a position of trust,” Dennis notes. “We know we are able to help people. Do right and you will do well. That applies to everyone when you are speaking of service businesses. If you take care of the people, whether it’s the employees, subcontractors or customers, good things will happen to you.”

As Dennis and his team continue to take care of people, good things will continue to happen for the firm. The business is experiencing steady and organic growth through building partnerships with all members of a project team from the owner to the smaller subcontractors. One project at a time, from concept to closeout, KANE Construction Inc. builds above the standard.

Published on: February 12, 2014

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