Kettelhut Construction Inc.
Kettelhut Construction Inc. (KCI) has been in business since 1935, when Karl Kettelhut established a small construction company serving the areas surrounding Lafayette, Indiana. After eight decades in business, the company has established diverse capabilities that allow KCI to serve a broad market. The business stands ahead of competitors with a proven dedication to quality, safe projects. The team has built up a strong portfolio of public and private commercial and industrial contracts leveraging a strong line of services that include conventional construction, design-build work, construction management, owner representation, program management and cost-plus projects.
In 2015, Steve Habben leads the business as president. He has been with the company since 1986 and worked for several years before that in Colorado before returning to Indiana. A graduate of Purdue University, Habben states that the company is first and foremost a community business. He and his team of 80 employees share a strong work ethic and value long-term relationships with clients, coworkers and neighbors. While many of the company’s projects are for institutions such as hospitals and schools, the company also frequently works for nonprofits and has a record of donating time and resources to charity projects.
A diverse portfolio
The company completed work on Herrick Lab at Purdue University in August 2014. “This building is the facility for the school’s mechanical engineering program,” Habben explains. “The facility houses a lot of specialized equipment. A range of different materials went into the $25 million project that had to be coordinated with owner furnishings. The owner also provided the air handling and control systems that were integrated into the building. It was a little bit of a challenge to coordinate the schedule and turn around a complete building.
“We do quite a bit of work for Purdue,” he continues. “We have worked continuously for this client for more than 60 years. We have probably remodeled, built or renovated almost every building they have on their campus over that time frame. That is especially rewarding because I am a Purdue graduate and so are most of our project managers. It is really rewarding to go back to the university you graduated from and perform work that is beneficial to the school.”
KCI has several ongoing projects in a range of market sectors. The crew is working into 2015 for Westminster Village of West Lafayette, a retirement community. “We are putting together a $27 million expansion of their facilities including health and wellness centers and three hybrid home units,” Habben elaborates. “These units fall somewhere between a home and a condominium and serve as residential independent living facilities. We have been working on this project for about three months, and it is a two-year project altogether. One of the bigger challenges is working on an occupied site with an aging population. We have to be very aware of our surroundings and the impact we have on the community.”
The crew is also working on three school additions for a school corporation in Tippecanoe County, Indiana. The company is performing three separate school additions with price tags ranging between $5 million and $6 million each. Habben says this is another rewarding project because all the facilities KCI is upgrading are projects the company completed as new construction projects several years ago.
Reliable performance and community commitment
Business has been flowing steadily for KCI, despite the recent economic downturn. With a local focus, Habben and his team have leveraged strong relationships, many decades old, with clients and strategic partners. “We have some great partnerships for each area of work we take on,” Habben explains. “We do a lot of work in-house, but we work with some great, reliable subcontractors. We can count on them to help us turn around projects that owners are happy with.”
With a high level of customer satisfaction, the business practically markets itself. KCI does not advertise and most projects come through repeat customers or word-of-mouth referrals. “We take a lot of pride in the reputation we have both in the industry and our community,” Habben says. “We have to turn a profit, but we also like to give back. We work for a lot of nonprofits and we also sometimes do nonprofit work for free without compensation. We like to be the contractor in town to help people out when they need a small favor. We have been working for Foodfinders recently, renovating a couple of offices for them.”
As the market continues to grow, Habben and his team are taking on new opportunities in the region. He does not foresee any major growth for the years ahead, but anticipates the regional economy improving over the coming years. Celebrating 80 years in business, Kettelhut Construction Inc. will continue to provide quality work as a strong community contractor.
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