The consummate Oregonian

| Print |  Email
Articles - April 2012
Thursday, March 22, 2012

 

0412_TheConsummateOregonian_02
Tom Kelly delivers meals to homebound seniors in Portland as part of the Loaves & Fishes program.
// Photo by Christopher Barth

Five years after the collapse of the housing market, Neil Kelly is slowly getting back on its feet. Although Kelly declined to reveal total gross revenues, the employee count is now up to 160, with much of that increase dedicated to the new Seattle location and the Home Performance division, which in 2012 is expected to bring in $6 million, double 2009 revenues. In Bend, Kelly’s remodeling business is up 23%, 53% in Eugene.

As sales rebound, Kelly aims to grow the company into a regional remodeling firm, with a Seattle showroom debuting this fall. It’s a legacy project he hopes to pass on to his son, Garret, 21, a student at Portland State University who has expressed interest in third-generation ownership. Kelly sees an employee stock ownership plan as another option.

Remodeling is a tough business. It requires going into people’s homes, never knowing what’s behind the walls, and often competing with people who work out of the back of a pickup truck. In a chaotic industry, Kelly has built a business of national stature that not only reflects Kelly family values but also serves as a mirror of Oregon — solid, dependable, but with ambitions for something better. Whether the state retains those values today is a matter of some debate, but Kelly, who laments the state of higher education funding in particular — “in many ways we’re going backwards” — remains unflagging. In December, when The Oregonian published an article criticizing the high cost of the proposed Oregonian Sustainability Center, he fired off a letter to the editor focusing on the bigger picture. “The OSC is not a real estate project,” he wrote. “It is a proposed state of the living laboratory, a university research center and a showcase for Oregon’s ultra-efficient building sector.”

In true Kelly fashion, not all his civic involvement projects are so grandiose or cutting edge. On a recent morning, Kelly and sales vice president Randy Hudson were stooped over the trunk of the former’s Lexus hybrid, picking out meals to deliver to homebound seniors.

“There are so many causes in this world,” says Kelly, who drives the same meals-on-wheels route his father pioneered 40 years ago. “This one is straightforward: nutrition and social interaction for shut-ins.”

The first part of that assessment applies as much to the man as it does Loaves & Fishes. No matter how big or small the cause, Kelly’s estimation of his life and his role in the community is disarmingly direct.

“How do you develop self-worth in this world?” he asks, simply. “Business is just a huge lever for that.”

Linda Baker is the managing editor of Oregon Business. She can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .



 

More Articles

Can small be large?

Linda Baker
Wednesday, April 01, 2015
040115-lindablogthumbBY LINDA BAKER

Leaders in Oregon's ag sector gathered this morning in Portland’s Coopers Hall winery/taproom to discuss the role of the region as an export gateway, impediments to exporting products and solutions to containerized shipping challenges.


Read more...

It's a Man's Man's Man's World

May 2015
Friday, April 24, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

Male tech workers speak out on the industry's gender troubles.


Read more...

Cherry Raincoat

June 2015
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

Spring rains are the bane of an Oregon cherry farmer’s existence. Even a few sprinkles can crack the fruit so badly it’s not worth picking. Science to the rescue: Researchers at Oregon State University have developed a spray-on film that cuts rain-related cracking in half, potentially saving a season’s crop. The coating, patented as SureSeal, is made from natural chemicals similar to those found in the skins of cherries: cellulose, palm oil-based wax and calcium.


Read more...

European Vacation

Guest Blog
Thursday, April 23, 2015
norristhumbBY JASON NORRIS | GUEST BLOGGER

There are winners and losers with a strengthening U.S. dollar.


Read more...

Undersea Power

June 2015
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Mike Morrow and Mike Delos-Reyes first came up with the idea of an ocean power device 23 years ago, when they were students at Oregon State University. They realized a long-held vision last summer, when their startup, M3 Wave, successfully launched the first ocean power device that works underwater.


Read more...

Fighting Fire With Fire

May 2015
Friday, April 24, 2015
BY BEN DEJARNETTE | INVESTIGATEWEST

Timber companies and environmental groups take a stab at collaboration to boost logging and restoration in Oregon fires.


Read more...

The Health Guru

May 2015
Monday, April 27, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

Mohan Nair channels a visionary.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS