Case Studies

Knowles Industrial Services Corporation

An Industry Leader in Restoration Projects
  • Written by: Knowles Industrial Services Corporation
  • Produced by: Knowles Industrial Services Corporation
  • Estimated reading time: 5 mins

In just over 40 years, Knowles Industrial Services Corporation (KISC) has earned a solid name for itself in the New England construction industry. KISC has grown from repairing industrial stacks and chimneys to successfully restoring large-scale structures, such as dams, masonry buildings and parking garages. Based in Gorham, Maine, KISC is now one of New England’s leading restoration contractors.


KISC began three generations ago as Chick Construction. In 1971 Arthur and Ellen Knowles purchased the company, incorporating it while changing the name to its current designation. Today Dan and Lisa Knowles-Maloney, third-generation owners of KISC, continue to emphasize customer service and employee satisfaction.


“We’re really customer and employee focused,” says Dan. “My job is to make sure our crews realize it is in their best interest to take care of our customers. If the customer is happy, then everyone is happy.”


Dan knows what it takes to run a successful business. “None of this is about me,” he adds. “Everything we’ve accomplished here was done as a team.” Dan is very proud of the company’s management team, which includes Andy Lawson, Tim Rich and Travis Whitehead, project managers for KISC; as well as Carol Perk, controller; Bill Jackson, shop manager; and Barney Stilphen, Scott Doucette and Wally Stetson, superintendents for the company.


With a staff between 45 and 70 employees, depending on the workflow, KISC relies heavily on employee work ethic and technical skill. Dan is proud to note that a lot of the company’s management staff and craftspeople have worked at KISC for 20 or more years.


“We’ve been together for a long time,” Dan says. “We all complement each other and really work well together. It’s my job to place the right people in a position to succeed and then move out of the way so that they can.”


It is longevity within the company and its employees that set KISC apart, as the business actually started nearly 50 years prior to the Knowles’ purchase. Dan attributes that longevity to KISC’s success. “We’re in it for the long haul,” he says. “We have a lot of depth of resources and people here. When clients approach us with a problem, we have a tremendous amount of expertise from which we can design and develop a solution for their unique situation.”


Dan admits that KISC is not always the lowest bidder; however, he claims, “We are always the lowest cost. What I mean by that is if our bid price is a little higher, but our repair lasts twice as long, then we represent the best value and the lowest cost. We are sensitive to budgets and cost management, including the cost of poor quality workmanship, unsafe working conditions and schedule delays.”


Frequent Flyers


The team has ensured KISC’s establishment of a notable reputation over the years. Maloney reports the company has a strong core of repeat business and maintains long-term relationships with clients. It’s not unusual for the company to work with clients that have returned to do business over the course of 30, 40 or 50 years.


Throughout its history, KISC has focused on repair work. Services the company provides include concrete repair, masonry restoration, coatings, linings, shotcrete, gunite, pressure grouting, resinous flooring and waterproofing.


In 2009 KISC was called upon to restore masonry at the former Chestnut Street Church in downtown Portland, Maine. The company played a major role in restoring the building while maintaining its historical elements so the owners could receive various historic tax credits. The project led to converting the building from a church to the successful, high-end restaurant Grace. Similar projects for the team include the brownstone renovation of the Sagadahoc County Courthouse, the granite restoration of Portland’s Gignoux Federal Courthouse, as well as the masonry restoration of Pierce Atwood’s building on Commercial Street.


While some of the company’s work requires fine attention to detail, KISC also helps with large-scale structural projects. The KISC team recently completed a wall stabilization project at a paper mill in Maine, as well as the concrete-pier repairs on the Deer Isle Bridge. Currently, the company is working on a large dam resurfacing project in Massachusetts, as well as a large parking garage repair project on Fore Street in Portland, Maine, in preparation for the construction of a new hotel.


Regardless of the type or project, Dan reiterates why KISC is chosen over the competition. “We seek out the root cause and solve the problem rather than simply install material,” he details.


Dan points out a recent example where a frustrated property owner called KISC for help following the purchase of a large office building with significant leaks. According to Dan, other contractors had gone in and made attempts to waterproof the building. “One of our engineers came in and identified the problem,” says Dan proudly. “We were able to stop the leakage for about $250,000. The owner claims his building is now worth an additional $1 million, because it no longer leaks and he can lease the space.”


Adapting to Change


In addition to making significant improvements for clients, KISC has seen some major changes over the years. The industry has become more competitive and clients have become more involved in the daily progress of a restoration project. For Dan, this means it is even more important to maintain strict schedules and complete projects with a high degree of quality.

KISC has placed significant emphasis on education and safety, ensuring the company can continue as an industry leader while maintaining a good work and safety track record.


“In 1988 our workers’ compensation experience modifier was 2.42,” says Dan. “Today it’s 0.67. Needless to say, we wouldn’t be in business today if we hadn’t made some serious changes.”


Dan credits KISC’s insurer, The Rowley Agency, for helping his company implement the necessary safety changes. The result speaks for itself, as KISC has worked over 500,000 hours without a lost time injury. Dan also reports that KISC recently completed its 17th annual safety fair.


The company is also keeping up with technology. “We have always prided ourselves on keeping up with the newest technologies and products,” says Dan. In the Northeast, KISC was one of the first companies to utilize the epoxy injection repair process and the first to install wet mix shotcrete. “Our staff is continually furthering their knowledge regarding new products and technologies; however, we are cautious about making changes unless we are certain it’s for the better,” Dan continues. “When we do present new materials or technology to our customers, we are confident that they are not only going to work well, they will also last.”

It is evident that focusing on customers and attention to detail has paid off for KISC. The company has received four Build Maine awards for outstanding projects, and Dan believes this is all due to the company’s highly skilled, professional craftspeople.


It is KISC’s goal to continue performing the best work possible; receiving recognition is simply a bonus. Despite fluctuations in business due to seasonal demand, Knowles Industrial Services Corporation is staying strong.


For more information about Knowles Industrial Services Corporation, please visit:

Published on: July 25, 2013

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