New Division Has Solid Footing
Path in place for Kitchen Mart Commercial
The formation of Kitchen Mart Commercial (KMC) is the story of a company founded in 1976, Kitchen Mart Inc., that built a great relationship with a trusted partner. It’s also a story of the owner of a commercial tile and stone company, Ryan Wagner (AGS Tile & Stone, or AGS) who was looking to be a part of something larger.
The two men joined forces over a year ago and formed KMC. Though KMC is technically new as a Kitchen Mart business division, it’s already steeped in decades of experience with longtime, dedicated employees and valued, repeat clients who have been there all along. According to the Kitchen Mart President, Dave Hollars, word-of-mouth marketing is strong, with about 75% of its business coming from existing customers or direct referrals.
Hollars says that KMC’s formation gives customers a deeper well of in-house knowledge to benefit their projects: a combined 50 years of experience in commercial tile and stonework for countertops, floors, exterior and interior walls, kitchens and bathrooms. It also allows Kitchen Mart to grow its commercial division for tile, stone and cabinetry in the best way possible—with an expert at its helm.
Kitchen Mart was founded by James Bartol, its CEO, in 1976. Hollars has been with the company since 1997. He became a Partner in 2004 and President four years later.
Business colleague Wagner—who founded AGS in Sacramento in 2000—closed his company and joined Kitchen Mart in 2019 as its Director of Sales/Project Manager. AGS had worked with Kitchen Mart on the residential side of the business for over a decade. In addition to his vast residential experience, Wagner has worked on large commercial projects all throughout the U.S., learning many different styles and techniques.
Hollars says that forming KMC and bringing Wagner aboard was just a matter of time. “Ryan’s reputation is second to none. It was a no-brainer for us to join up. Partnering with Ryan has always been in the grand scheme of the Kitchen Mart machine. What we want to bring the commercial world is what Kitchen Mart has been doing for over 40 years: providing quality, value and exceptional service,” he says.
Kitchen Mart and KMC collectively have over 130 employees and 80 company trucks and vans on the road serving the Greater Sacramento area, where Kitchen Mart has installed more than 25,000 kitchens and baths. The transition has been smooth thanks to capable team members on both sides.
Hollars says integration of the new division was seamless, thanks to Wagner and several other key employees: Executive Office Administrator Sally Wolfe; Human Resources and Payroll Director Rita Frasch; and Chief Financial Officer and Controller Tamara Hollars, his wife. Their expertise has allowed him to stay focused on the bigger picture.
Wagner’s established relationships with others in the industry—such as general contractors—benefit both sides. His tile and stonework project management experience runs the gamut, from retail stores to restaurants, from tenant improvements to interior and exterior commercial buildings.
While continuing to offer his craftsmanship to existing clients, Wagner’s leadership in KMC also gives him more leeway in projects and more opportunity.
“The size of potential jobs is now wide open. There’s capital and funding to carry various-sized jobs, as it takes money to make money. There’s more freedom for me and it gives me more time to focus on running the projects,” he says.
All Made Here
What sets Kitchen Mart—and therefore KMC—apart is its size and its ability to do it all.
The company crafts cabinets and countertops in its own fabrication facilities, with all work performed by staff, in-house, with custom work as its specialty. “We have a full Corian shop as well,” Wagner says. “It’s used quite a bit in commercial work so it’s a real bonus that we have that.”
“Here in Sacramento, we have 20,000 square feet dedicated to stonework and 10,000 square feet of space for cabinetry. It’s rare in this industry,” Hollars says. “I belong to a few different organizations and speak with people all over the country and know this is a unique business model.”
There is no middleman, no waiting on a third party for materials, no subcontractors. For customers, this means that, from design consultation through ordering, scheduling and installation, it’s all done by KMC. Hollars says that’s how the company assures it can deliver projects on time and on budget.
In addition to the manufacturing facilities, Kitchen Mart operates design showrooms in both Rocklin and Sacramento. KMC customers can visit and see various styles of kitchens and bathrooms, visualizing how certain cabinetry, tile or stonework would look and function in their offices or businesses.
And when the considerations go beyond how a tile or stone material looks and into how it performs, KMC is a premier Cambria dealer, knowledgeable of the American-made, natural quartz surfaces. It carries cabinetry lines by Kitchen Mart, KraftMaid and Merillat Cabinetry, as well as stone, granite and tile from Caesarstone, DuPont and other makers.
Client needs can vary greatly, and KMC is ready with plenty of options.
Recent KMC projects include a Polanco restaurant in the Downtown Commons (DOCO), and a large Noah’s New York Bagels location in Berkeley where the project involved interior tile, kitchen walls, interior brick, bathroom tile and luxury vinyl tile. Another recent project was the Lululemon Athletica at the Westfield Galleria in Roseville, where KMC installed over 5,000 square feet of 2-by-4-foot tiles.
Solex Contracting, Inc. (Solex) was the general contractor with the Lululemon project. Solex Vice President of Operations Keith Schultz says that KMC made the process easy. “Their flexibility and positive attitude certainly stood out during the install,” he adds.
“Not only can they jump on a complex project and turn it around quickly, but they are great to work with and reasonably priced,” says Tom Torgrimson, Production Manager, True Line Builders, Inc. The Rancho Cordova building company worked with KMC on the Polanco restaurant.
Crews also completed a very modern, high-end office building at 2999 Douglas Blvd. in Roseville, which entailed custom hexagon and mosaic tiles set over three-story-high pillars, one impressive oval mosaic set on a two-story arched feature wall and tons of floor tile. All high-end mosaic work was done from scissor lifts as well. “It was flooring and wall tile, a lot of exterior, super-fancy intricate work,” Wagner says.
Ryan Healy is a Project Manager with Adair General Construction, the general contractor on the Douglas Boulevard job. “Not only were they very accommodating to the tenants working through this construction project, they finished each phase of this project on schedule,” he says.
Pieces in Place
KMC’s evolution with Wagner at the wheel will benefit everyone, says Hollars. With its new division, the company has a more balanced synergy based on a tried-and-true alliance. Hollars notes that the foundation of his relationship with Wagner involves mutual trust and a dependence on the synergy forged through complementary strengths.
“I have a tendency to go into everything at 100 miles an hour. Dave is teaching me to slow down a little bit,” Wagner says.
“I tend to be pragmatic and systematic and Ryan likes to rock and roll, and I like that,” says Hollars. “We’re a good combination. Having him around has reignited my spark as well.”
KMC is an opportunity for the company and Wagner to show commercial tile and stone customers what this synergy can accomplish.