Warwick, RI — “I always say I have sawdust in the blood,” quips Tanya Donahue, owner and principal of RIKB Design Build in Warwick, RI. “My dad was a general contractor, and growing up, I loved being on the job sites.”
Donahue’s love of the job site atmosphere continued into her adulthood. “My husband and I started a custom cabinet shop in 1989, and after we had our two children I went back to the workforce full time in a local lumber yard in the kitchen and bath department, then moved on to a large new construction company until 2008. This led me to the perfect blend of what I love at RIKB Design Build – kitchens, baths, building cool projects and seeing them through to the very end.”
After putting in her time as an employee of RIKB, Donahue became a partner, and eventually fully bought out the founder in 2016. Since Donahue took over as principal, the business has received recognition and awards both locally and nationally, including Providence Business News’ Best Places to Work 2018-2021, NARI 2021 Regional CotY Winner, 2020 Qualified Remodeler Guild Quality Satisfaction Leader and more.
Due to the location of RIKB in southern New England, a large portion of the firm’s business comes from well-established clients, many of whom own multiple properties. “Our design specialties are full service design-build projects that usually have a kitchen or bath included in the scope of work,” Donahue explains. “These projects can also include a small addition as part of the renovation.”
Donahue notes that many of her clients own vacation homes in the area, “so we do see a lot of clients transforming their coastal vacation homes into their permanent residence.” She adds that the firm’s “primary clientele is the Boomer looking to either modify their existing forever home or remodel a downsized or second home, and younger clients that appreciate the design-build approach.”
Because of the age and life stage of many of the firm’s clients, Donahue says, “multi-generational living and Aging in Place [have] been a focus for us for many years.” She notes that, over the past year, due to COVID-19 and changing home situations, “we are certainly seeing a huge demand for that.”
Prior to the pandemic, RIKB was already embracing virtual tools in order to foster good communication with clients, including “cloud storage for all projects and client portals, iPads in the field, digital specifications and reviews, so the switch over to 100 percent virtual workflow was fairly seamless for us.” Tech solutions for COVID-era communication include an app that enables employees to have a separate phone number to text clients.
In order to maintain client connections through the pandemic, RIKB has been using Zoom to its fullest capabilities, in particular. “Prior to last year, we would have educational workshops in our Design Center, and our first virtual workshop was ready to go one week after the shutdown,” Donahue explains. “They have been a huge success and the content varies from trends, successful planning of projects, everything a client would need to know to start them on their remodeling journey.”
This policy of embracing technological solutions to social distancing has enabled RIKB to maintain its ”professional yet approachable” character. “We strive to provide exceptional customer service, materials and installation,” says Donahue. “We are super proud of our team and the care they give to each and every client. I think clients feel our culture of caring, compassion and camaraderie and know they can trust us in their homes. Our ultimate goal is to keep our promises to our staff, trade partners and clients.” ▪