Tess Fischer, Yardzen Relationship Manager, chatted with Yardzen Pro Network member, Kelsi, of KB Contractors TX, LLC. to learn more about her mission to bring transparency to the landscape process and provide quality service ‘from the root up’.
What is your background and how did KB Contractors come about?
Production. Commercial, corporate, and entertainment. In production, I specifically worked as a lighting designer, rigger, and project manager. I worked with an amazing array of people: from The White House to Austin City Limits Festival. Needless to say, we did a bit of everything. During the pandemic, we were hit with a surge of unemployment, but as contractors and coming from a field of labor, I initially started repairing trim on homes, building decks, full landscape remodels with myself and two other crew members that were hired from production and previously worked on the exterior of homes. From there, with the progress that we made in our initial projects, we were able to gain quick traction and continued to hire and pay true livable wages to contractors who were out of work. I can confidently say we all were able to build, what is now, KB Contractors TX, LLC.
What is your company philosophy/what are you all about?
“Our story is the stories we help you create.” The quote we created comes from our desire to place value in people–both contractors and homeowners that have a story. We want to honor their home by staying true to what it represents to them–from every detail of why they want their space to be built to the manner in which it will be utilized. You deserve to be heard while designing your home, and we’re here to listen.
Tell us about your crew!
Our crew is our family. We have individual relationships from the administrative end to the front end with each crew member. We work hard together–the same way we’re in attendance at birthdays, workouts, after-hour events, and involved in one another’s daily life. We work with our original crew, even with production coming back, and have hired several other specialists. Between all of us, we’re motorcycle enthusiasts, chefs, parents, artists, musicians, actors, and more. We thrive on our individualism and hold one another accountable to produce substantial work. To put it simply, I adore our crew.
Beyond being an inclusive company, what is KB Contractors’ approach to uplifting the lives and voices of marginalized communities? And why is this so important to you and your team?
Our influence starts from within. It’s been about speaking less and listening more with an attentive mind. Questioning and calling out injustices and discrimination at its root to grow both associated with our field of work and externally. We work with specific groups and volunteer-based on budgets and it’s a true privilege to be able to do so.
What are the biggest roadblocks and challenges you come across when working on installation?
In the present, supply and demand. The demand is ruthlessly high, and due to covid and other high-markets being a current player — the rise in real estate and renovations, materials are both limited and at their highest price point. Another challenge, which we try to walk our clients through beforehand, is regardless of maps provided (irrigation, gas lines, electrical, proper surveys, etc) the prior work done may not match, and may cause more work or an extension of work being performed at the property to complete the project in full.
How do clients get the most out of their relationship with their contractor?
It’s age-old, but alas, communication is key. Remain in touch with your clients, not simply as leads or bids, but form a true relationship with them. Understanding how their life works daily, helps to understand how to create the most functional space for them. Truly, we walk away from most properties with new friends.
What is your approach to educating clients?
We’re fully transparent. In our quoting process, we itemize each section of their quote, to equip them with an understanding of what supplies it includes and what it would take to complete. That allows us to talk through the budget and where we can make adjustments. We supply them with the guides that match our location regarding plants, sod, aggregate, steel types, and more. We value the trust they put in us with reference to our ideas and expertise, but our best designers are the people who will be living there with their new design, the homeowners themself. We feed off of their energy and don’t hesitate to combine minds. We strive to always have an open mind and give energy to ourselves learning more daily with them.
What makes you different from other landscape contractors?
Our business model is grounded in our mission to create a fair and judgment-free work environment for our employees. As a queer-friendly business, we provide our employees a safe space to be themselves and guarantee that they will always be paid a true liveable wage. By creating an environment that fosters collaboration and growth we are able to constantly improve our workflow process as new technology and tools are released. This adaptability allows us to use advanced design and build programs to cater to our client’s specific needs in a timely and digestible manner. Our process is very hands-on, it includes virtual and face-to-face follow-up meetings with each client to ensure we provide an all-encompassing experience that exceeds their expectations and creates a clear and concise build plan for our crew. Our expectations are high and we expect the same on our deliverables.
What’s the most requested feature lately?
Xeriscaping. We’re seeing and drawing more designs that sway away from annual installs and more clients and companies interested in permanency that requires little maintenance. From a green perspective, with xeriscaping, you save money on watering and repairs. Preserving our natural resources is important to us, and this is one way to contribute.
What is a new trend you’ve seen that you think is going to take off soon?
Fabrication in regards to welding design. We used to mostly create trellis and structures out of lumber, and have put in more work to modernize our designs with a rustic touch. It’s a form of art that can be expressive in and around homes and buildings.
In honor of Pride Month, can you share what Pride means to you?
Pride to me, is being in environments that assure each individual of their safety and allow them to take up the space they deserve. It’s a sense of family, a notion that we, simply as people, belong. It’s a celebration of resilience. I kiss my wife in the morning, knowing we couldn’t legally have the rights we do as a unit until less than 6 years ago. I would not ever like to know what life looks like without her. And though there is much work to be done, we take time to acknowledge the work from our community and legends who paved the way, like Ifti Nasim and Marsha Johnson, and follow in their footsteps.