Kitchen & Bath Design News

OCT 2018

Kitchen & Bath Design News is the industry's leading business, design and product resource for the kitchen and bath trade.

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Doug Walter Denver architect marks four decades as market presence Doug Walter may be a major player in the Denver, CO housing market, but his outreach has extended for nearly four decades far beyond the Rocky Mountain States. Since 1979, Doug Walter Archi- tects, the residential-architecture firm that Walter heads, has provided award-winning services to hundreds of homeowners in the Denver metropolitan area. Projects have run the gam- ut – including historically inspired additions and preservations, whole- house remodels, kitchens, bathrooms, basements, additions, custom homes, laundry rooms and garages. Walter's firm also offers expertise in lighting, cabinetwork, earthquake retrofitting, accessibility and Universal Design, energy efficiency and sustainability. The winner of more than 150 local and national design awards since 1983, Walter has written extensively for trade magazines and consumer shelter publications, and speaks frequently on kitchen and bath design, lighting, historic preservation and accessibility at trade association events like KBIS. Aside from serving on the task force that created the CAPS certifica- tion for the National Association of Home Builders and writing part of the curriculum, Walter has also shared his original research at KBIS and has been asked to be on a national working group charged with updating the NKBA's Guidelines for Kitchen & Bath Design. In addition, he has served on numerous boards and committees, and has provided pro bono services to Habitat for Humanity, Easter Seals, Jewish Family Service and the Home Builders Foundation. John Valente Well-known cabinet rep trains dealers in how to sell John Valente has been in the cabinet business for 27 years. In that time, he's represented many different lines. He's worked inside cabinet companies and he's worked from the outside. But there has been one constant throughout that period: Valente and his team of reps have approached the business as a ground game, partner- ing with local kitchen and bath dealers, and helping them to grow their businesses. "Product lines today have become much more complicated," Valente explains. "And it goes way beyond just sharing product knowledge. We consider it our job to help them learn how to sell." One example: Valente and his team train their kitchen and bath dealers to conduct 10-question interviews of their prospects to help them invest precious time in selling only to those who are 'serious' about remodeling. Valente recounts a generous offer from one of his dealers who retired after 30 years in business and encouraged Valente to use a vacation home the dealer built after a successful career. The dealer told Valente that his advice had helped him to acquire the house. "Any rep can walk in with sales chips, but I approach the business by asking how I can bring business to my customers." Jean Stoffer Designer grows business through referrals and social media savvy Any business owner looking for an outstanding example of how to organ- ically build a business based on word of mouth and referrals should look no further than Jean Stoffer. Her designs have garnered a great deal of interest on social media – indeed, her Insta- gram followers number over 70,000. Stoffer attributes her social media success to a combination of high-quality original content and engaging captions, along with an Instagram Story featuring personal updates and progress shots. This combination of visually attractive original content and a personal touch puts potential clients at ease before they ever reach out, Stoffer says. The owner of Southwest Michigan-based Jean Stoffer Design has been focusing primarily on kitchen and bath design for more than 25 years, but she has more recently started moving into whole-home design projects. According to Stoffer, this expansion of her business' offerings has resulted in an influx of new clients and greater social media attention. 2018 is bringing more exciting changes for Stoffer's business. In Decem- ber, she will be opening a Stoffer Home in Grand Rapids, MI which, in addi- tion to carrying accessories, lighting, furniture and custom cabinetry, will function as a workspace and showroom for her growing design business. In 2017, Stoffer's design for the kitchen in her own 1930s brick cottage was named one of the 25 finalists in the Sub-Zero Wolf Kitchen Design Contest. Additionally, her home received an "Editor's Pick" nod for the "Dramatic Before + Afters" category in the HGTV Faces of Design awards. Ebony Stephenson Successful young designer advocates for positive change When Ebony Stephenson, CAPS gradu- ated from Virginia Tech 11 years ago, she hit the ground running. She started out working for design-build firms in Vir- ginia, but soon found herself frustrated by discriminatory practices within the in- dustry. Far from being deterred from her lifelong design aspirations, Stephenson channeled her energy into starting her own design firm in 2015, Designs by Ebony, LLC. She has since built a rep- utation as not only an award-winning, style-savvy and dependable designer, but also as an advocate for marginalized people in the design industry. As a young designer, Stephenson has already emerged as a leader in the industry and has been recognized by the NKBA's Thirty Under 30 and Professional Remodeler's 40 Under 40. She is an NKBA VA State Chapter volunteer and is also a member on the Virginia Tech Residential Environ- ments and Design Industry Board. Her work has been featured in a host of trade publications as well as The New York Times. Stephenson has used her position as a successful business owner as a platform to start what she calls the "uncomfortable but oh-so-necessary conversations" – honest and open discussions of discrimination on the basis of race, gender and ability within the industry. She speaks about her experiences at events such as KBIS, as well as at Virginia Tech and with local youth. 52 Kitchen & Bath Design News • October 2018

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