Kitchen & Bath Design News

JUL 2019

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

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Page 37 of 67

Designers are connecting with potential clients and fostering a sense of trust through community involvement. BY AUTUMN MCGARR Community Connection t the risk of sounding like every grouchy luddite writing peevish op-eds about people's reliance on the internet, it sometimes seems like most businesses are focusing a majority of their marketing and branding eorts on social media and other digital avenues. Dealers and designers may spend so much time vying for "likes" and trying to master ob- scure posting algorithms that they may lose sight of the value of taking a good look at their surroundings and nding ways to directly engage. Despite this, there are still plenty of businesses that put time and resources into nding ways to interact face-to-face with potential clients. For many of these rms, connecting with their customer base begins at home. From donating pro-bono design services to handing out concessions and business cards at local sports games, design rms are nding a wealth of ways to increase awareness of their brand within their immediate community – the source of much of their business. This month, KBDN takes an in-depth look at rms that are fostering face-to-face relationships with their neighbors through a variety of community engagement initiatives, and how these rms have beneted from these strategies. CHARITABLE ENDEAVORS For some rms, sponsoring local organizations or donating to charitable causes can be the best methods of amplifying their brand presence in the community consciousness. A prime example of this is Caruso Kitchens of Lakewood, CO and its associated charitable organization, Caruso Family Charities. The charity was founded by owner Jerry Caruso and his wife, Sharon, in , and is dedicated to supporting the families of terminally ill children on a personal, thoughtful level. "We interview every family – we go see them and sit down with them. We pay rent, we pay power bills, we pay cred- it card debt, household expenses, car repairs," explains Caruso. The charity is supported by a portion of Caruso Kitchens' prots, as well as a variety of fundraising events including golf tournaments, motorcycle rides, school aliations, comedy nights and more. Although the charity was not started for the express pur- pose of bringing attention to the kitchen business, Caruso's clients often mention the charity as a factor that has attracted them. "We've done many kitchens for nurses at the children's hospital…and social workers," he says. "People who hear about our charity or come to our events might be remodeling their kitchens, so the charity has led to lots of kitchen business." He also notes that the kitchen rm's association with a charitable organization does foster an initial sense of trust in new clients. Michigan rm Kurtis Kitchen & Bath, in business since , also has a long history of charitable giving – "[I'm] Pretty sure every baseball game I grew up on was sponsored by my dad or my grandpa," says Principal and Sales Manager Aaron Kuretzky, whose family has owned the business for generations. Just as notable as its monetary contributions, Kurtis Kitchen & Bath also has a long-running partnership with Habitat for Humanity, which entails preserving and do- nating all salvageable materials from every kitchen the compa- ny demos. Of a current project, Kuretzky notes, "We're going to donate two shower surrounds, two toilets, two vanities, two countertops, two sinks, two faucets, light xtures, and then all the kitchen cabinets…we probably donate to counter- tops a year to Habitat for Humanity." Bainbridge Island, WA-based A Kitchen That Works has also been a longtime donor within its community, most nota- bly to a local aordable housing initiative – appropriate for a kitchen and bath rm. "We sponsor their fundraiser, and we've done that for many years," says founder Molly McCabe. REACHING OUT With the labor shortage weighing heavily on many design rm owners' minds, some rms have taken it upon themselves to directly engage with the designers of tomorrow in order to infuse the industry with fresh energy and deepen the pool of potential new hires. Neil Kelly Company, a xture in the Northwest design community since , has established one of the industry's most notable ongoing mentorship initiatives. Beginning with A Kurtis Kitchen & Bath donated a new kitchen to a Pontiac fire station, upgrading countertops, appliances and cabinetry. Photo: Courtesy of Kurtis Kitchen & Bath 38 Kitchen & Bath Design News • July 2019 MARKETING

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