Company Shifts Focus to Meet Consumers’
By Denise D. Vermeulen
ITASCA, IL Using a host of tools from showroom maps and a
comprehensive educational program for staff to the firm’s global
positioning satellite (used to locate delivery trucks), KDA Kitchen
Design prides itself on being customer-focused.
Earlier this year the firm, formerly known as KDA-Kitchen
Distributors of America, changed its name and updated its logo to
better reflect its growth and its new consumer-focused business.
KDA also opened its 16th showroom in the Chicago area, bringing its
total number of showrooms to 22. That total includes two showrooms
in northern Indiana and three in the Philadelphia metropolitan
The firm was founded by Abe Kogan in 1948 as a plumbing and
heating supply business, located in a small Chicago storefront.
Kogan later added a line of kitchen cabinets, which ultimately
became an integral part of his business. He opened his first
showroom in Chicago in 1957.
Today, KDA Kitchen Design, which had sales totaling $75 million
in 2001, is part of the privately owned Builders Group of Cos.
Until recently, the bulk of its sales came from the builders’
market. Today, it is the largest independent seller of cabinets and
other kitchen and bath furnishings in the Chicago area, according
Making It Easy
General Manager Robb Best cites a recent study that found one-third
of those considering a new kitchen design abandon the project
because they become overwhelmed. KDA found the study enlightening,
and reacted to this news by focusing the business around making the
kitchen remodeling process as easy for the customer as
The new focus on the individual consumer has led to several
changes in the KDA mindset. KDA designers work to understand their
customers’ different lifestyles and incorporate their specific and
varied needs into the designs they create. KDA also offers myriad
services that includes in-house installation, for a
concept-to-completion design solution, says Best.
In addition, each KDA showroom was recently renovated or
rebuilt, offering a wide variety of displays in updated
surroundings. And, adding to the “consumer friendly” atmosphere,
customers who now enter a KDA showroom are immediately offered a
beverage and handed a showroom map, which they can use to mark
displays for future reference.
To further enhance customers’ experience and to get a true sense
of what they need and want, designers ask clients to describe their
lives and interests in depth. Staff designers use this information
to guide each client toward specific products that best “dovetail
with his or her lifestyle,” explains Best.
An unusual feature that makes it easy for consumers is the
global positioning satellite that locates delivery truck drivers,
which allows KDA to provide customers with an update on delivery
Additionally, training is essential to KDA’s success formula,
with all KDA designers required to complete 32 hours of training
each year. Topics range from product and design trends to
installation techniques and company business procedures and
systems. They attend classes offered by the NKBA, manufacturers and
distributors, as well as KDA’s own education department.
KDA’s concerted effort toward educating staff begins with the
hiring process. The company’s approach has been to find a “certain
kind of personality” and train them the KDA way. The full-time
trainer on staff immerses new employees in a five-week intensive
training session that Best describes as “boot camp.”
While smaller companies often carve out a specific niche within the
market, KDA is aiming for a broader market, designing kitchens and
baths for the low, middle and high end. Its semi-custom line,
however, starts at the mid-level range.
KDA competes in both the wholesale and retail markets, and
targets both the individual consumer and the building market. The
end result, claims
Best, is a stable firm that doesn’t rely on only one segment to
KDA KITCHEN DESIGN
LOCATION: Itasca, IL
Abe Kogan, founder; Harvey Kogan, president; Steve Kogan, v.p.;
Robb Best, general manager
22; approximately 110,000 total square feet apiece
HOURS OF OPERATION: Monday & Thursday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.;
Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to
4 p.m.; (Some locations open on Sunday)
EMPLOYEES: 248 (including more than 90 designers)
MAJOR PRODUCT LINES: HomeCrest, Fieldstone, Kitchen Craft,
Sub-Zero, Viking, Thermador, Jenn-Air, GE, DuPont Corian, Formica,
Granit, Grohe, Elkay, Jacuzzi, Delta, In-Sink-Erator, Kohler
WEB SITE: www.KDAKitchens.com
SPECIALTIES: Provides consumers with a concept-to-completion
service while designing around the customer’s lifestyle.
“We are customer-driven.”