Kitchen Designer Sells 'Wow Power' With Function

Kitchen Designer Sells 'Wow Power' With Function

By Denise Vermeulen

It's obvious that Sisk has figured out just the right formula to attain the "wow factor" because his sales have nearly doubled during the last four years. The number of jobs he does ranges from 25 to 40 annually, and he grosses almost two million dollars annually. 

It probably doesn't hurt, either, that Sisk, who was previously a partner in the business for many years, and his eight employees (including one CKD) are committed to challenging themselves. "Once we're retained, we try to exhaust the possibilities of how the room can be used," says Sisk. 

The staff strives to create a design that's right for the customer, often doing as many as a dozen different plans from which they begin the design process.

Sisk explains that this kind of drive keeps things interesting. "I want to challenge myself. That's how you get good at anything."
Heartland design 

Sisk's clientele is almost exclusively made up of high-end consumers, with most jobs ranging from $80,000 to $200,000. Many of his clients live in Missouri and other states in America's heartland, including Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska. But, kitchens by Leweno has contracted for jobs elsewhere in North America. Locations have included Alaska, California, Florida, Virginia, Arkansas and South Carolina. Jobs done outside of the three state area are typically for repeat clients. 

Approximately 40 percent of his jobs are done outside of Kansas City, although the majority of them are within a four-hour drive, he notes.

"Being in Kansas City doesn't benefit us at all," said Sisk referring to the impact geography has on his business. He points out, however, that the central location and easy access to a full-service airport make traveling to jobs in other areas simple.
Kitchens by Kleweno, which originally opened its doors in 1947, has been located on a main street in the same "artsy" community for over four decades. Because of its inner city location, the 3,500-sq.-ft. showroom, and the surrounding area are, in Sisk's words, "a destination for people." In other words, he explains, people don't just wander in "kicking tires"

Show and tell
Sisk claims his greatest marketing tool is good, old-fashioned, word-of-mouth advertising. He combines this with placing an emphasis on his showroom and designing kitchens for show houses to gain added exposure. 

When getting involved with show house projects, he typically opts for a combined designer showcase and charity fundraiser which provides both an opportunity to serve the community and build good will, while attracting new customers. "They've been huge for us," says Sisk, who has participated in some 15 of them in recent years.

Sisk describes his showroom as diverse, attractive, and upscale. "When people come in [to our showroom], it's the wow factor they talk about us!" he explains. One of the kitchens in the showroom is a contemporary design using Neff cabinets. It has four different door styles, and uses four different colors, and a variety of textures. It is, says Sisk, a highly functional kitchen that is an "artistic creation in and of itself." 

Sisk describes another display in the showroom as an "unfitted kitchen" which resembles furniture pieces. The custom-built pieces, designed by Draper DBS, hide all appliances and equipment, including a television and stereo.

Although Sisk says his showroom is a bit of a stretch for the Kansas City market, he nevertheless has received a "great response from it." Sisk explains that the great room concept has always bothered him because the kitchen décor is often neglected. In response to this, Sisk likes to hide the kitchen appliances and make the cabinet or furniture pieces an appealing part of the design. "We create a sculpture," he explains.

This idea is one that Sisk is parlaying into an unusual home in Lincoln, NE. The kitchen, he says, "floats in the middle of the family room" with appliances and service areas having their own sections. Each section of the kitchen is being designed with a unique look and style, with varying finishes, colors, and multiple metals. These sections, explains Sisk, combine to create a "sculpture garden kitchen."

Soon, the entryway to Kitchens by Kleweno will receive a facelift. While Sisk does not yet have specific plans, he intends to "incorporate the unusual," he notes. 

Ultimately, Sisk notes that he wants "everyone including the mail carrier to notice it" and say you guessed it "wow!"

Kitchens by Kleweno

LOCATION: Kansas City, MO
PRINCIPALS: Randall Sisk, owner
SHOWROOMS: One, 3,500 square feet
HOURS OF OPERATION: Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat. 10 a.m.-3 p.m., and by appointment
EMPLOYEES: 8
MAJOR PRODUCT LINES: Draper DBS, Inc., Neff Kitchens, Crystal Cabinet Works, Inc.
DESIGN SOFTWARE: CADKIT 
SPECIALTIES: Servicing high-end clients, regardless of their special interests, the design or feel they are trying to create. Offering three lines of high-end cabinets that have provided clients with a broad spectrum of choices.
BUSINESS PHILOSOPHY: "Our business philosophy is simple: service, service, service whatever it takes."

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