Worth Celebrating

Kaufman Construction’s 20th Anniversary.

Anniversaries are always worth honoring, but milestones deserve a little more recognition. This past month, Kaufman Construction celebrated a significant milestone and chose to recognize it with the people who made it possible.

After 20 years in business, owner Devan Kaufman says the Kaufman Construction team wanted to make the event more than just a party. “We wanted to recognize our 20 years as a company. But we also wanted this to be an opportunity to reconnect with past clients and to build relationships with new and potential clients and with the people who’ve worked with us to reach this point.”

Friday evening, November 8, the KC Gala for the Angels brought together nearly 100 people at the Teachout Building in the East Village for a time of catching up, enjoying some good food, and even a little dancing and karaoke. The company also organized a silent auction to raise money for a favorite, Iowa-based nonprofit.

“Mara, my cousin’s daughter, was diagnosed with a brain tumor at age four, right after Thanksgiving a few years ago,” Kaufman says. “Tori’s Angels in Panora (see Angel Team) helped the family with all sorts of non-insurance-covered expenses. They’re still helping them today as Mara continues to deal with the effects of the tumor.”

In addition to auction contributions from Jasper Winery, WineStyles, and the Iowa Wild, Kaufman Construction put together several gift baskets and made a number of custom wood items, including cutting boards, a tortilla press, and a live-edge walnut shelf. The auction and cash donations raised $3,000 for the Tori’s Angels Foundation.

Kaufman says although the event was a celebration of the company’s success, he wanted the evening to focus on the clients, vendors, and team members who contributed to that success as well. “We had longtime vendors there and current and recent clients. And we had clients come for whom we’ve done multiple projects and clients we haven’t worked with since a remodel project nearly 20 years ago. It was encouraging to hear them talk about how much they still love the work and the compliments they get on their homes.”

From the time Kaufman Construction began with just a few small projects and a truck, Kaufman’s desire was to build a company that did exceptional work, not just jobs. He says he never set out to be a design/build company, mostly because the design aspect was such an integral part of what he did already. “I always loved designing, and that became a necessary component of the communication process if we were going to do more than just contract work,” he says.

Today the company is known for its exceptional quality and its focus on design that respects the style of the home as well as the homeowner. Although he believes the design approach evolved naturally, Kaufman acknowledges that much of the business side of running the company came the hard way. Looking back, he says, “If I’d known better, I would have tried to learn those things ahead of time instead of getting smacked in the face with my mistakes.”

The ups and downs of the construction industry and the economy gave Kaufman some sleepless nights and some days when it seemed the only thing keeping the doors open was determination. Those experiences led to growth, too.

“We had to focus on the business in a different way, putting effort into the business itself like we did into our remodeling work. Since then, we’ve put a lot more energy into developing our company culture and our people,” he explains.

Kaufman approaches the future the same way. “We don’t have plans to branch out into other areas,” he says. “We just want to augment what we currently do to keep improving what we do and how we do it.”

Last month’s anniversary celebration was a recognition of that vision and of the part so many people played in helping Kaufman Construction achieve it during the past two decades.

Angel Team

Created in June 2011, Tori’s Angels is a nonprofit 501c(3) foundation that pays for all medical expenses not covered by insurance for selected children with life-threatening illnesses. The foundation is the result of a community fundraiser for Panora resident Tori Heckman, who has undergone multiple heart surgeries since birth. The success of that 2010 fundraiser motivated community members to provide similar assistance to other families.

The foundation was named for the community “angels” who supported Tori. Today, those angels and generous donors provide funds for travel expenses, insurance co-pays and deductibles, prescription medications, and more. Tori’s Angels even researches state-of-the-art medical services and pays for travel to these services for children and their families. Each child who benefits from Tori’s Angels is supported from the date of acceptance until his or her 19th birthday.

For more information or to donate, visit Tori’s Angels Foundation.