Kitchen in a box?
Contractor segues into one stop online shop for the ultimate kitchen/bath
Barbara Ellington, Public Affairs Editor
WHEN THE recent recession plunged the housing market in south Florida, builder/general contractor/information technology specialist, Michael Scott did not crumble with the rubble. He harnessed his years of experience to transition into an area of the business that was poised to take off.
As Scott tells The Gleaner, many persons might not be able to afford to build or remodel their entire house, but would at some point, be interested in remodelling their bathrooms and kitchens. So armed with his impressive skill set, intuitive Scott decided to design virtual layouts, then ship the components to wherever the customers were ... including Jamaica!
"For the past five years, I have been focused on the local (Florida) market, selling/remodelling some kitchens/baths to individuals and developers in the Caribbean. I have now made it a focus with a website and software tools to cater to that market," he said in an email/telephone interview. Scott offers wood cabinets, granite counters and sinks. Plans are afoot to expand into tiles, doors, hardware and plumbing fixtures. "In essence, it will be a kitchen in a box," he said.
But how did he know it was time to segue from construction to design and survive the recession? He told The Gleaner you usually know the time has come to change career paths when you are no longer passionate about what you are doing. "Life is short, you have to live your life juggling family responsibilities," said the married father of two. "I survived the recession by consulting with a construction management software company and working very hard getting referrals from relationships that I had established over the years," he said.
Still in transition mode from general contractor to designer, Scott thinks he has an advantage over others with his ability to supply cabinetry. They (general contractors), don't have experience with installation, limiting their ability to foresee problems in the design and how it could affect the installation. And, most importantly, Scott, whose parents are Jamaicans, is not limiting his potential clients to Florida, he is looking to expand into Jamaica and the Caribbean.
"I am able to give input on not only style and function, but construction too. This helps me to get a full understanding of the project and I am able to provide added value to the final outcome," he said.
Kitchens and baths were chosen because they are focal areas in a home. Also, having remodelled his own kitchen many years ago, he found it frustrating to go to numerous home improvement stores and granite suppliers. "I found the process to be extremely inefficient, worst of all expensive. I knew there had to be a better way and this website and business is it. By providing the primary components (cabinetry, countertop, sink) all in one place - with the use of technology and a more efficient process, the consumer benefits."
And so Ultimate Kitchens and Baths (UK&B) was born. Now the customer in Jamaica can simply email him the exact measurements for the kitchen and bathroom space and he will design it online. You can tweak it together online until the desired effect is arrived at.
Scott said pre-recession he was building high-rise condominiums for a general contractor and a real estate developer. The buyers of the units were waiting in line; it was fairly easy to work within a budget to supervise the contractors and get the job done. Post-recession has seen a dramatic switch to remodelling as many people decided to stay in their homes or to purchase a more affordable one then remodel it.
Being his own boss is extremely gratifying, he can make a meaningful difference to customers and make his mark without limitations.
Expanding too will present competition from similar businesses offering state-of-the-art kitchens and baths so Scott's prices have to be competitive. However, having done his research, he notes that his prices are less expensive than comparable items in Jamaica. "When you add: better price, knowledge, responsiveness and the convenience of the process, this is the best route to go," he said confidently.
But doing business in Jamaica would be in his favour. "Regardless of whether you are a homeowner, builder or a real estate developer, this is a more affordable, efficient method to get a new kitchen or remodelling done. With the use of technology, this is a convenient, cost-effective way to get your all-included kitchen in a box."
Things the homeowner should know when installing a new kitchen/bathroom
a kitchen/bath can be both exciting and overwhelming. Careful planning
before taking on a project can save time, money, and frustration down
the road, but also allow for an enjoyable process every step of the way.
1. Do you care more about increasing the value of your home or making it more comfortable and functional?
Ensure your budget is realistic to cover all you want done. It's
important to think about budget and work with options accordingly.
Determine "big picture" goals of the project. Will the kitchen be used
primarily as a place where children do their homework? Or will it be a
room for entertaining guests? Will there be multiple cooks using it?
Begin thinking about the scope of work. Is the plan to update a kitchen
by leaving the floor plan as is? Or is it to reconfigure the floor plan
within the existing space? Or maybe it's to expand into an adjoining
room or add new space.
5. Consider project timelines. A kitchen
remodel is a big investment of time. Decide on a realistic timeline for
completion so as to best coordinate with personal schedules.
Think about contingency kitchen accommodations during construction. With
most kitchen remodels, there will be a period of time without a
7. Browse through magazines, visit showrooms, browse the Internet and attend seminars for product and design ideas.
or appliances can be a great place to start when making selections.
Once those have been selected, everything else can be built around them.
Make note of your needs, wants and priorities. Talk with other family
members who will also be using the kitchen and try to reach common
needs, wants and priorities amongst the group.
Scott's products can be purchased locally at: Bahama Traders, 56 Manchester Avenue, May Pen, Clarendon (876) 902-5725; or online at email: firstname.lastname@example.org or website: www.ukbi.net. US telephone is 1-800-543-2987.