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Friday, 22 May 2020 21:06

Kendall Performance & Repair on How Mentorship Has Helped as a Small Business Owner

Written by Paul Kobylensky, Input Fort Wayne
Kendall Riecken, left, owns Kendall Performance & Repair. Kendall Riecken, left, owns Kendall Performance & Repair.


SN: Do you offer regular repairs and maintenance?


KR: On older cars, yes. I don’t get into the new cars with computers, simply because of the costs of keeping up with the programming.


SN: Ivy Tech’s New Venture Competition grant was instrumental to you starting your business. Tell us about that grant.


KRJB Tool and Die and PROFED Credit Union are very big supporters of the grant. I had to present my business idea to a panel within Ivy Tech. They then selected three of us from seven applicants. Then we had a formal night with the competition. I gave a 15-minute speech on every aspect of my company, including how I was going to do it, my investment, where I was going to invest, all of the numbers, all of the marketing and pretty much all facets of the startup. I wrote a full business plan, and the judges felt that I had the most likely opportunity to succeed, so I ended up winning.


SN: What was the next step?


KR: In September of 2017, I bought the property for the shop. We closed on it almost two years ago in 2018. I took possession shortly after the new year.


The shop was 40-by-60-feet to start with and had a dirt floor. There were mice and critters, and the eaves were open. It was a 4-H barn for animals. We had a lot of work to do. We did about 80% of it ourselves, my dad and I, and completed it last September.


Throughout the project, I had started taking on projects as areas would get done. I was able to take on detailing jobs and stuff like that to start generating some revenue. Then, just over a month ago, I was able to quit my day job and start doing this full time.


SN: What was it like starting your business from scratch? What kind of struggles did you face, and what were some of the victories?


KR: Well, no matter what you’re doing, it’s money and time. I would come home from my day job at 4 or 5 o’clock, then we’d come out here and run the electrical wire. We did that for a month straight last winter. It was like that every single night, in the cold. We would work until 9 p.m., 10 p.m., sometimes 11 p.m. at night. Then I’d get up the next day, leave for work about 6 to 6:30 a.m., and do it all over again.


On the weekends, we would work 12 or 14 hours, both days. The physical demand was probably the biggest struggle. And money’s always tight no matter what you’re doing.


SN: During a global pandemic, that’s more true now than ever. How has the quarantine and economic slowdown affected your business?


KR: My company has slowed, but it’s by no means slow. I have those three full restorations going. So when the virus hit, and we all closed our doors, I’ve still been able to work 40 to 50 hours a week.


The biggest change is that my quick-turn projects, such as detailing or small body and paint jobs, have diminished. Those are quick money makers. Restorations help to fill the gaps. Now I have been doing restoration work 95% of the time.

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