A and K Construction Inc.
Ken Hunt’s family expected he would follow in the footsteps of his father and brother and become an orthopedic surgeon. Instead, Hunt earned a bachelor’s degree in construction technology and founded A & K Construction Inc. (A & K) in 1987. Hunt and the team at A & K are now proudly celebrating 25 years in the general contracting business, providing high-quality work to commercial clients in western Kentucky.
A & K is a company built on Hunt’s experience. After graduating from Murray State University, Hunt worked as a project manager in the industry. He gained valuable experience, learning to be a leader and willing to tackle even the largest contracts. Hunt’s work at Industrial Contractors was so vital that, when he decided to leave to start his own firm, Alan Braun, president and CEO of Industrial Contractors, offered to form a partnership with Hunt; hence, the A in A & K.
The day A & K opened for business the stock market experienced its worst single day in history, but that didn’t destroy Hunt’s entrepreneurial spirit. Hunt has built A & K a strong reputation based in his hometown of Paducah, Ky. The company started with small contracts; however, those small contracts established Hunt as a reputable, trustworthy contractor and led to many referrals to grow the business.
A & K now boasts average annual revenue of $67 million with the help of 89 well-informed employees. The team has allowed A & K to become a brand in Kentucky through success on many notable facilities, including educational institutions, sophisticated healthcare facilities, contemporary religious environments, efficient office spaces and elegant estate homes.
Building Educational Institutions
A & K has found a lot of work in recent years in the education sector of the construction industry. “This sector has proved to be a profitable niche for the company,” says Ron Kupper, manager of corporate services and general counsel for A & K. The company has done extensive work for Hunt’s alma mater Murray State University, including a recent contract to expand the Paducah campus.
Other large contracts include the construction of Paducah Middle School and the construction of McCracken County High School. Kupper says the two-year county high school project is expected to be complete in spring 2013. The $60 million contract will create one of the largest high schools in Kentucky.
A & K is building a school to allow three McCracken County high schools to merge into one facility. The building itself will house between 1,500 and 2,000 students, and the school will include a 700-person auditorium, gymnasium and sports fields. A & K is working with architects to create a school that will provide a community atmosphere for students.
As the general contractor on the project, A & K will complete such work as steel beam erection, rough carpentry and finish carpentry work, as well as concrete work, according to Kupper. The company uses a vetted network of contractors for other aspects of the project.
“We get used to working with the same subcontractors, and we are familiar with the ones that do good work,” says Kupper, who explains this helps when working with a tight budget. A & K won the contract for the county high school based on the company’s bid, which was the lowest.
Solid Client-contractor Relations
Hunt moved A & K from Tennessee back to his hometown for the reason that the company was getting more work in the western Kentucky region. This proved to be a smart business move for the company, and Kupper notes that many clients want to work with local businesses whenever possible. The fact that the company’s president is also from the area is an added bonus.
Because A & K has grown in a region where Hunt has many contacts, he has made customer satisfaction a huge priority. Kupper feels that is what sets the company apart. “I think at the end of the day it is the value we add to the project and what we provide to the customer,” says Kupper. “We try our best not to walk away without the customer being happy. If that means we have to go back a year, two years later to make something right, we will.”
No matter how long it takes A & K to do the job right, the team will deliver. For that reason, A & K has seen many return clients in its 25 years of business. “Another factor is staying on schedule and on budget,” says Kupper. Many local companies are small operations, but A & K is just large enough that it can guarantee to have the staff on hand to get a project done within a small frame of time. “Our customers like that, which at the end of the day helps them from a budgeting standpoint,” details Kupper.
In an unsettled economy, many contractors are concerned about the future. Kupper says the company has many projects in the works, but remains tentatively optimistic about what the future may bring. He does see A & K expanding operations even further, though, to continue the success of the company.
“I think in the near future we’re looking to open an office in another city a couple hours from Paducah,” says Kupper. “As time goes, we will consider doing that.”
The company will continue to deliver successful projects one at a time, starting with McCracken County high schools. In addition, establishing satellite offices closer will allow A & K Construction Inc. to be closer to a growing list of clientele and ensure future success.