Face To Face With Scott Waldhauser

Photo By Nicole Martyn

Photo By Nicole Martyn

Since 1974 the Waldhauser family has built Kenwood Kitchens into one of the most recognized companies in the industry.

Founded by Bob Waldhauser, Kenwood Kitchens’ day-to-day operations are now in the hands of his three sons, Scott, David, and Steve Waldhauser. Scott oversees the sales component of operations while David manages the business practices and Steve handles the production crews. This well-organized team has found the recipe for a successful family business.

The Waldhauser brothers have a hand in every project, whether it’s working with designers on conceptual ideas, checking orders and scheduling with the production team, or assisting installation crews in the field. Scott gives us his perspective on working in the family business.

How did you get startedin the family business?
At the dinner table mom and dad would talk shop. During my summer vacations from school, I would tear out kitchens. It was always fun as a kid demolishing things. Of course, I was also the clean up guy back in those days, but it was nice seeing the projects from start to finish.

What do you love most about your job?
I love seeing my designers get more excited about the designs they’ve created rather than the sale of the job. It’s like ball players years ago who played for the love of the game. I also love the great letters we get from our clients praising the craftsmanship of our installers—that’s like your kid coming home from school with a perfect report card.

If you could change one thing about your industry what would it be?
The kitchen industry is always changing. Keeping up with the change is what separates the legitimate custom kitchen design companies from the big box warehouse discount stores or ‘Joe the carpenter’ (cousin of ‘Joe the plumber’) who works out of his garage.

What accomplishment of yours makes you the most proud?
In 1984, right out of high school, my first clients were determined to just reface their cabinets, which is something Kenwood Kitchens doesn’t do. After they gave me the opportunity to show them how we could improve on the kitchen design, they were impressed, and I sold my first job.More recently, I am proud of getting the recognition from my dad after he cautiously watched us relocate two of his original stores to more desirable areas all while creating more of a kitchen design studio feel rather than just a showroom.

Who in your life was most instrumental in helping you get started with your career?
My passion for this business comes from my parents. They both brought different perspectives to me. I learned my hard work ethic from my father and my enthusiasm for design and getting to know my clients from my mother.

What was the biggest challenge you had to face to get to where you are today? How have you managed to overcome that?
In our family business we consider our employees our business family. We do things together outside the office and share so much of our lives with each other. The challenge is when I actually need to be the boss and put that separation between us.

What did you want to be when you were five?
I think I wanted to be a fireman. The thought of the alarm going off, sliding down the pole, and speeding off in a fire truck to potentially save a life was exciting for me as a young child. I’m kind of doing something similar today…I save people from their worn out kitchens.

If you could do anything other than what you are doing, what would it be?
I think I would be an entertainer of some kind. I had the lead role in a musical back in junior high school, and I never forgot the feeling of being up on stage and listening to the audience’s applause.

What advice can you offer someone who is considering joining or starting a family business?
If you are joining a family business, it is important to know where you stand within the family because there may be a predetermined level. You have to work hard and earn the respect you think you deserve. Also, think about where you could possibly grow in the business. If you are starting a family business, treat everyone like they are family and that includes vendors, clients, and employees. If you treat them with the respect with which you would treat your family, I think that will go a long way.

Kenwood Kitchens: kenwoodkitchens.com or 800-211-8394