Design Firm Aims to Please from S.T.A.R.T. to Finish
By John Filippelli
Therefore, it should be no surprise that the nearly 50-year-old design/build firm relies on what it calls the S.T.A.R.T. (Systems to Assure Resources and Timing) method, which is devised to ensure that a home addition, kitchen or renovation project runs smoothly, Klein says.
He explains: "[The system] takes a highly customized, difficult process and makes it palatable, easy and consistent."
Included in the system are a variety of services, such as initial consultation, construction warranty, the "TLC" (Total Living Care) method and the "Peace of Mind" warranty.
With this in mind, Klein proudly notes that the firm which specializes in home additions as well as custom kitchens and baths in the greater Illinois area not only is working on some 400 projects on any given day (by his calculations), but is actually in the midst of expanding the company.
The most notable example of this is the company's showroom, which, at 30,000 sq. ft., would appear not to need tinkering. But for a self-described perfectionist such as Klein, things can always be improved especially when trying to create an environment that will provide inspiration and "awaken clients' senses."
"The concept of the showroom is to be an experience. Whether you love it or don't find anything exactly for you, you should at least walk out and say it was a nice experience," he says.
To make the type of splash that Klein envisions, the revamped showroom will include a waterfall, climbing wall and putting green, among other things, to complement the numerous product offerings, interactive modules and resource center found there.
To that end, he points out that plans are also underway for a new 15,000-square-foot showroom and a design/ build showroom set to open by mid-2006 in another city.
But, Klein is also quick to note that he could not accomplish these goals alone, citing the firm's 160 employees including seven CKD/CBDs as key to the overall success of the firm.
He stresses: "Our goal is to become regional and national and do
something the industry has never seen. The industry has been
unsuccessful at trying to scale a full design/build remodeling
company and we are managing to do it and we will definitely achieve
Start me up
A key element of the Airoom business plan is the unique S.T.A.R.T. process a proprietary 10-step process that assures customer satisfaction at every stage of the design and construction process, Klein notes.
"Our S.T.A.R.T. process is something that has been developed over time. It allows us to become a production house of custom work things that typically do not go together."
He continues: "It also enables our people to wear their best hats rather than multiple hats and incorporates best practices from all different industries and methodologies into a streamlined, efficient method."
Specifically, the process includes: Initial consultation; planning and design; specifications and cost approval; finalizing blueprints and materials selection; permit processing; scheduling of materials, labor and equipment; supervising construction; financial options; clean-up and walk-through; and construction warranty.
Although the process has certainly created consistent and comprehensive results, Klein offers an interesting view on its core.
"No one piece of the process is revolutionary, but when you stream them all together and get them to work as a group, it becomes a very powerful tool."
For Klein, however, the way customers are treated during the construction process is equally as important as the finished project they receive.
Therefore, the firm also implements the "TLC" (Total Living Care) method, which reaffirms its value- and detail-oriented philosophy by offering such unique services as daily clean up or even building temporary kitchens and exterior stairways so that clients can live in their homes during construction.