AIM Kitchen & Bath transitions smoothly under new ownership.
More than three decades ago, AIM Kitchen & Bath set up shop in Beaverdale and began offering remodeling services to area clients. Today the company is one of Des Moines’ leading remodelers. Its legacy of service and professionalism continues under the new owners, Ryan and Deb Pudenz.
“We’d been living out of state since college,” says Ryan, “and after having our first son, we were ready to move closer to family.” The couple grew up in the Carroll area, and they wanted to raise their own children to enjoy having family nearby.
Ryan says, “We’d always talked about running a business together. And we were talking about finding a way for Deb’s footprint to grow, to showcase her design skills. So we started looking into that, and we came across a listing for a kitchen and bath remodeling business in Des Moines. It sounded like a good fit.”
For the past 15 years, Ryan worked in sales and management for a national cemetery management company. As he moved up and gained experience, the company moved him from one major metropolitan area to another. Along the way, Deb’s expertise in home and interior design helped her to develop a thriving design business of her own, Wild Rose Interiors.
Together, they represent exactly what AIM Kitchen & Bath has always been—a solid, reliable business with design skills to match.
Corey Gersdorf, whose father, Pete, was one of the founding partners when AIM opened its doors, says the transition has been pretty smooth, all things considered. “My dad had talked to me about his exit plan for quite a while. We’d seen other companies like ours, family-owned businesses where the owner either didn’t have a succession plan or assumed things would go a certain way and they didn’t. Pete didn’t want that to happen.”
Having grown up working at AIM, Corey wanted to remain part of the business, and his role there hasn’t changed. Nearly every employee followed his lead and has stayed on since the Pudenzes took ownership, including the lead construction team and designers.
“Corey has been such an asset already,” Ryan says. “We’re incredibly grateful that he stayed on, with his expertise and his knowledge of the business. Our communication and relationship have been good from the beginning.”
“We really want this to remain a family business,” says Deb. “We have two sons now, and we envision them growing up around the business like Corey did, spending their summers working here and learning the skills this team has.”
“They will not be learning those things from me. Deb will be the first to tell you I’m not handy,” Ryan jokes.
That honesty is also a reflection of what Ryan and Deb have brought to the company—a practical grasp of the strengths they have to offer and an eagerness to build on the foundation that AIM has already established.
“We were impressed with Pete and Corey from the beginning,” Ryan says. “Their values aligned with what we were wanting to do with a business, and I think they could tell that we were good buyers who would continue what they had built.”
“This was the perfect situation,” Deb says. ‘For Pete, this was his wheelhouse—contracting and construction. He knew how guys wanted to be treated in the field, he knew what customers expected, and he built this really solid business. And now Ryan brings his business and sales background. It’s blending the two areas of expertise, allowing us to build on that foundation that Pete laid.”
Any transition comes with a few hiccups, of course, but this one had the added bump of taking place in 2020. The sale closed in late January, just weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic shut normal business operations down for many companies. Having just taken the reins at AIM, Ryan and Deb would have been justified if they’d panicked. But they approached the pandemic the same way they approach every challenge—with open communication, honesty, and planning.
“We really took a proactive approach,” Ryan says. “We talked to our employees and to our clients. And we made adjustments so that everyone was comfortable and everyone understood what was happening. We didn’t lose a day of work. We stayed open through all of this.” Although some clients delayed projects as a result of the quarantine, in-process jobs continued, and the company was able to move forward on some of the backlog of already scheduled projects.
As noted in the July issue of BUILD Des Moines, Deb and the design team at AIM were able to take advantage of the quarantine to focus on planning and new business (see “From 0 to 60 in No Time,” in the July 2020 issue).
“We’ve also been moving ahead with our plans for the showroom,” says Deb. “We’re installing new kitchen and bath displays and working on some changes just within our office layout.”
The practical changes since Ryan and Deb arrived earlier this year have been relatively minor—updated logo, website, showroom. But they’re an indication of plans for the company’s future.
“It wasn’t broken,” Deb says. “We didn’t come in to fix anything.”
Ryan agrees. “We aren’t interested in changing what AIM has always been. We just want to tweak it and put our stamp on it.”
AIM will still be that one-stop shop that can do an entire remodel project from design to finish.