“When I first started my business, my family worried about me not having benefits or a pension or a steady paycheck.”
After his second child was born, Chris set out to find a job that gave him more time with his family. At first he worked as a handyman, but "you rely on an underground economy. That's something my wife and I didn't like." So in 2004, Chris turned his carpentry skills into Kaben Contracting. "And there was some fear because no one in my family had ever started their own business before."
The first three years were difficult and credit was essential. Today, Chris still uses his MasterCard® to cover unforeseen expenses – extra materials or tools – and payroll. "The people who work in this business live hand to mouth." That means, if Chris can't easily access the assets he needs to cover his employee's pay or buy the materials they need, then he's going to lose his people and the job won't be done well. And finishing a job well, no matter how small, is the aspect of this business Chris loves.
"It can be something as simple as installing a hand-railing so a 90-year-old client can reach his basement." Those are the jobs that make 14-hour days worthwhile. Chris also loves getting involved with the small details on a job, like trim carpentry and backsplash. "When you have the right crew you can hand things off, but handing off the small jobs still hurts."
After 4 years in business Chris would recommend "[opening your business] before you have your kids. Do it when you have time to put in 15-16 hour days." But even after going through those first tough years, Chris says with a smile, "I'm still here." And yes, he'd do it all over again.