Culture Is Key
KCI/Krische Construction relying on integrity and teamwork since 1987
There is no hesitation in Mark Teplitsky’s voice when asked what attracted him to KCI/Krische Construction (KCI) in 2016, when the company was looking for a replacement for retiring founder Dan Krische.
“The culture, the company’s high level of integrity, the emphasis on teamwork and the atmosphere they’ve created,” Teplitsky says, emphatically. “When they recruited me, I was at a point where I was looking for a change from the big corporate culture, and I found it here. KCI is more like family and puts its people first. This company is unique in that we’re big enough to take on large, complex work, but small enough where the principals of our company remain hands-on involved on a daily basis. That makes it so we can deliver outstanding projects to all of our customers.”
Teplitsky is now Vice President of Business Operations and joins Co-founder and KCI President Mark Pilkington, Vice President of Operations Gary Adams and Director of Internal Operations Christian Dino in continuing to build on the company’s reputable foundation.
The family feel of KCI comes from its roots, which go back to the company’s founding in 1987. Krische and Pilkington married sisters, and the brothers-in-law eventually bonded over their desire to build something special.
“We started doing subcontract work in the early ’80s, working for general contractors and as job site superintendents,” Pilkington says. “By the mid-’80s, we were doing small general contractor projects, and, by 1987, we incorporated.”
Building a Reputation
The Denver-area building industry was stagnant in the 1980s, Pilkington says, and to establish a presence, KCI accepted work around the country building tenant projects in shopping malls. Crews often worked unusual hours to avoid disturbing other tenants and shoppers. The company’s ability to work efficiently and quietly, keeping the mall clean of debris and dust, helped to establish its reputation for quality work.
Since its inception, KCI—based in Longmont, Colorado—has grown from a staff of six to 50 people and has found a sweet spot of between $28 million and $35 million in projects annually.
Could the company continue to grow? Yes, but both Pilkington and Teplitsky say not at the cost of the current company culture.
“Growth isn’t our top priority,” Teplitsky says. “Our top priority is to take care of our people, give them good careers and deliver great projects. If we can grow without compromising our values, great. But there is no need to grow just to grow. I’m sure there are $15 million to $20 million projects in the future, so when we grow, it will be organic growth.”
KCI’s portfolio is filled with repeat clients, including multiple contracts with the Regional Transportation District of Denver, the Archdiocese of Denver, Longmont United Hospital, and many school districts.
Mike Wisneski, Director of Design & Planning for the Archdiocese of Denver Management Corporation, says that the churches he works with choose their own contractors for each job and many times choose KCI.
“They’ve worked with us on several projects for various entities in the archdiocese,” Wisneski says. “The way it’s set up, each parish hires its own contractors, and we give the oversight. The parishes clearly see them as the best value for their work. We would welcome them back anytime for any type of project. When a parish wants a list of contractors, they are always on the list.”
One of the projects for the Diocese was the $6.5 million renovation of St. Francis of Assisi in Longmont. The second phase of the project included new additions. An existing worship area was remodeled into a new social hall and included a kitchen addition. The existing social hall was remodeled into religious education areas with a 700-seat maximum worship area, adoration chapel and support space. The architectural character of the worship area is now more traditional.
“They wanted a historical look, and they got it,” Pilkington says.
Building from the Inside Out
Pilkington is most proud of the company’s culture.
“We try to make it an environment where people enjoy coming to work,” he says. “I’m proud that we’ve been able to create a company that people want to come and work for. We’ve done well, we’re financially stable and people enjoy being here. That’s important.”
That culture helps keep employees, Pilkington says, with some on staff for more than 20 years. “How you communicate with people, and your style of communication, are important to create that culture,” he says.
“It all helps the employees understand they are important and we’re a team. We stress ‘we’re here for you’ and give everyone a chance to advance within the company. We have had several younger guys that became seasoned carpenters, job site superintendents and seasoned project managers,” Pilkington adds.
The tightknit culture fostered inside KCI translates into better communication and work with clients. Pilkington estimates about 70% of KCI’s business comes from repeat clients.
“Customers feel we are honest, knowledgeable and can get along with their team,” he says, “and, we can provide a great product.”
KCI is known for its ability to work on a variety of complex projects, including multiresidential housing projects, such as the nearly $4 million Terry Street Brownstones in Longmont, the $5.8 million Hearthstone at Hover Crossing for the Longmont Housing Authority, and the $10.5 million Fall River Apartments, a 60-unit apartment complex also for the Longmont Housing Authority.
KCI is also well versed in commercial projects such as the $1.2 million Summit Bank and Trust Larkridge in Thornton, Colorado; the $1.6 million Lotus Building & Coffee Sanctuary in Boulder, Colorado, and the $600,000 Erie Marketplace retail spot in the Arapahoe Ridge Marketplace.
“You could classify us as a small-to-medium company that competes with the large,” Pilkington says. “We can build the same type of projects that larger companies can do. We have that experience. We construct quality while building trust.”
Other major projects include renovations, complex occupied facility projects, site development, park and recreational areas, hospitals, schools and government contract work.
There isn’t a lot KCI hasn’t done since Pilkington and Krische founded it in 1987, but Pilkington still has goals.
One of them is to one day build a $20 million affordable housing project.
The other is to build a new school from inception. “I’ve always wanted to build a school. We’ve renovated several, but that would be something to accomplish one day,” he says.
“In the past year, we came together as a team and built an affordable housing project for 65% of the cost by doing a lot of work in-house,” Pilkington says. “We also received a lot of participation from subcontractors and suppliers.”