Many successful businesses attribute their success to doing things just a little bit differently from the rest of the competition. Creative concepts, offbeat ideas and thinking “out of the box” are often the catalysts behind the birth of a successful business.
This idea holds true for JP Kitchen Design Studio, a full-service kitchen design and build contractor located here, halfway between Milwaukee and Wisconsin’s capital city of Madison. The studio offers complete design services for cabinets, countertops, flooring and lighting, and offers Smart Kitchen technology.
Owners Laurie Peirick and Sean Jacobs met while Peirick worked for a small cabinet dealership and Jacobs was her sales rep at a countertop fabricator.
“We found we had common interests and visions for how clients’ needs should be met, and decided that couldn’t be done at the companies we were working for,” comments Peirick, who also acts as lead designer for the firm.
The ‘Ugly Kitchen’ Event
Original ideas were put into play right out of the gate. To prepare for its grand opening, JP Kitchen Design Studio ran “Lake Country’s Ugliest Kitchen” contest.
Beginning four weeks prior to the opening, homeowners were asked to drop off a photo of their “ugly” kitchen, or send a photo via the company’s Web site. A panel of local judges reviewed the 36 photos during the grand opening celebration, choosing the kitchen that would receive a $7,000 makeover, which included Bertch Marketplace cabinets and hardware, Corian countertops, and new sinks/faucets.
“We wanted to come up with a fun way to introduce our business to the Lake Country area,” comments Jacobs.
“Since our business is about making people happy in their kitchens, it helps to be able to laugh about where you’re starting from,” Peirick points out.
Enjoying the opening festivities, which had a theme of “Rock the Kitchen, Stock the Pantry,” were about 100 of the studio’s key suppliers, customers and contractors. “In keeping with the evening’s theme we encouraged our guests to bring a donation item for the local food pantry,” notes Peirick. “In all, about 100 items were donated to the food pantry.”
At 2,000 square feet, the studio is smaller than many showrooms. But Peirick stresses, “There is a lot of work space for designers to come and go and collaborate with each other. Customers comment on the ‘homey/comfortable’ feeling they get when they walk in the door, and how passionate everyone is about their work.”
The showroom’s five displays each sport a descriptive sign that provides all of the details in that area, including cabinets, faucets, tile, etc. Among the cabinet lines carried are Bertch custom, Legacy semi-custom and Marketplace stock. The company also uses local craftsmen to create custom cabinets.
The studio is also a DuPont Specialty Retailer Plus, offering Corian, Zodiaq, laminate, solid surface, quartz, stone and Vivendi concrete, among other countertop options. “We also have a wide selection of ceramic and glass tile, wood flooring and cabinet hardware,” offers Peirick.
One of the most novel aspects of the business, however, is a unique service the firm provides clients called “Virtual Vignette.” Clients can sit in the studio and preview room layouts, colors, door styles and flooring choices on a giant screen based on their own kitchen’s measurements.
“This is really the best way we’ve found to incorporate technology into the design process,” offers Jacobs. “The number of selections to make for a kitchen remodel can be overwhelming, but this makes the selection process faster, more precise and more fun.”
“We’re able to make changes on the fly and in front of the client relatively quickly,” explains Peirick. She adds that customers have commented that this service was instrumental for their choice of companies. “They have chosen us over a competitor because we can show them changes so quickly. Customers can interact with us…and we can share ideas and feed off of each other. The energy and excitement the homeowners get when they can say, ‘what about…’ and ‘can we try…’ is very invigorating.”
The studio’s designers will even visit clients in-home to develop a remodeling plan. The designers are also actively designing kitchens for new homes, with both clients and builders.
In addition to Peirick and Jacobs, JP Kitchen Design Studio employs 14 other designers and specialists, including interior designers, Smart Home technology specialists, tile specialists and installers, carpenters, custom cabinet makers and a custom/faux painter.
“We offer full services, including kitchen design services; remodeling; wood floors; ceramic backsplashes and floors; interior design services; custom drapery and project management,” remarks Peirick. “We can coordinate the entire project from start to finish.”
To reach its target market of residential customers between the ages of 40 and 60, the studio advertises in local newspapers and upscale lifestyle magazines, and also participates in Chamber of Commerce events. “We also sponsor some local causes, including the Food Pantry, the YMCA at Pabst Farms and the Festival of the Arts,” states Peirick.
JP Kitchen Design Studio’s formula is clearly working in this area, which is known as ‘Lake Country’ because of the many inland lakes. “There are many million-dollar homes on the lakes, so consequently there is a higher-than-average income level and expectation of quality in our customer base,” stresses Peirick. “We have found that customers really appreciate the extra service we can offer.”