Bev Gilbert has had an artistic bent for as long as she can remember. Her creativity eventually played out through the performing arts as she earned a college degree in piano performance.
Today, Gilbert channels her creativity into her business, Regarding Kitchens and Homes Inc., which she owns with her husband, Bruce.
She’s the Olathe company’s president and designer and her husband is general manager.
Q: What is Regarding Kitchens and Homes?
“We are a design-build firm that specializes in kitchen and bath work, but we do everything,” Bev Gilbert said.
The company will perform such projects as countertops replacements, room additions, and attic conversions.
The Gilberts lead their team of 12 employees; they subcontract for electrical and plumbing work.
“Our actual installers are highly trained,” Gilbert said. “They don’t do just one part of the job, they do everything from start to finish.”
Q: When and how did you start Regarding Kitchens?
Bev Gilbert originally taught piano, but did a little remodeling of kitchens and bathrooms on the side. With a young family, Gilbert decided to make a career change.
“My two sons were in grade school and someone said, ‘I think you would be good at this,’ ” Gilbert said. “A year later, I won a national kitchen and bath award and I was hooked.”
Gilbert learned her design and decorating skills on the job working for other design companies. Meanwhile, Bruce Gilbert operated his own business as a plumbing rep.
In August 1998, the Gilberts bought their business from Bev’s boss.
Gilbert said Regarding Kitchens differs from its competitors.
“A lot of others will put the numbers in and spit out a proposal…we go in and do a very specific proposal that fits their home and their needs,” she said.
Gilbert enjoys working closely with clients.
“We will spend about an hour or more and get a really good read on what they need,” Gilbert said. “We talk a little bit about budget…and make sure we design for them…we want to know what their comfort level is and not overbuild for their home.”
During a followup meeting, Gilbert presents the homeowner with a full computer rendering of the project.
“They get to see what they will get for the budget before work actually gets under way,” she said.
Q: Who are your customers and how do you reach them?
Regarding Kitchens’ target market is single homeowners.
“We do a small amount of new construction and it tends to be very high end and they want cabinetry that is not typical,” she said. “But remodeling is in everyone’s budget.”
Gilbert said Regarding Kitchen’s business is from referral and repeat business,
“It’s neighbor to neighbor and friend to friend,” she said. “That is the best business you can ask for.”
Regarding Kitchens expanded by acquiring Overland Park Appliance in downtown Overland Park.
“We kept the owner on and even opened a second location in south Kansas City,” she said. Later, the company opened a Northland location.
After analyzing their business data, the Gilberts decided to combine everything into a 15,000 -square-foot showroom in Lenexa.
Q: What happened when the 2008 recession hit?
Before the economic slump, Gilbert said Regarding Kitchens was a $6 million business with 28 employees. By the end of 2008, the business had dramatically changed.
“From December, it was like someone locked our doors,” she said. “It was terrifying with a lease we had just re-upped….We were saddled with a half million lease and no business.”
Gilbert said things turned disastrous.
“We had to make some really hard choices,” she said. “It made me a better businessperson, but I had to clean house and it was the most painful time.”
The Gilberts bought out their lease in 2012.
“We got this opportunity to partner with Alexander and Ray TV and Appliance. We got out of appliances but we take our clients there for appliances.”
Three and a half years ago, the Gilberts relocated into a smaller space in Olathe.
“It was like starting over again, except that we had a good business with a good reputation,” Gilbert said. The good relationships they had developed with their vendors helped the Gilberts to stay in business as well as a loyal client base.
“And we have been loyal to them in return,” she said. “The bottom line for us was we didn’t know what we would do if we did shutter the business.”
In a nutshell
COMPANY: Regarding Kitchens and Homes
ADDRESS: 1736 East Harold St., Olathe
WEB SITE: www.regardingkitchens.com
Owner: Bev and Bruce Gilbert