Kirk Aikey, CGR, CAPS, CGP
Aikey's Home Improvements LLC, Midlothian, Va.
Year Founded: 1959
Number of Employees: 3
Q: Who started your company?
A: My father, Harold Aikey. He started out as a home builder, but always did home improvements. The last house he built was in 1979. We have been full-time remodelers ever since.
Q: What did you do before remodeling?
A: I started with my dad for a while after graduation because he needed a hand. I enjoyed working with my hands and just kept applying myself to it. It’s not a just a job; it’s my craft.
Q: How has the remodeling profession changed since you’ve been involved?
A: Wow! So much has changed in the past 34 years. Everything from codes, EPA, innovations in products, techniques and more; it is nothing like when I started. I’ve also had to become more of an administrator.
Q: What is the most unusual project your company has completed?
A: A kitchen in an older part of Richmond that absolutely transformed the functionality of a small house. We removed a wall between a galley kitchen and the small dining room. It opened up the area and made entertaining so much easier, as well as beautifying the house. It included rich dark cabinets, granite, tile backsplash, new hardwood floors and pendant lights at the bar. All of his friends had a “wow” moment when they came over after the project was completed.
Q: What is your favorite item in your office?
A: A family picture. It helps me keep perspective. It’s what’s really important.
Q: What’s the best career advice you’ve heard?
A: Recognize a good idea when you steal it. I don’t know who said it, but there are a lot of good ideas our company uses that did not originate with me. Other people’s ideas get tweaked to fit us or inspire a whole new concept that we implement.
Q: What does being part of NAHB mean?
A: It has provided me with personal and business growth. The NAHB, as well as my local HBAR, has helped my business through education, advocacy and great friendships. I can’t imagine not belonging. The past several years as a member have helped me take big steps.
Q: What have you done to grow your business during the difficult economy?
A: Initially, I spent way too much on advertising that didn’t work. Eventually, I joined a business networking group, which has been one of my best decisions. Now I look for networking opportunities. This helps me, as well my business partners.
Q: What motivates you every day?
A: I know it might seem corny, but for me it’s so rewarding when we exceed a customer’s expectations. Just last night on a whole-house remodel, my customer was literally in tears because she loved what we have done that much. That makes it worthwhile.
Q: Anything else you’d like to mention about career accomplishments?
A: My three NAHB designations have been such a huge benefit to me in recent years from helping with changes in the way we do business to having learned new ways of doing things. But my greatest accomplishment happens at the end of every job when the customer shakes my hand and is glad they chose us to do their project.