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

Dan and Louis Oyster Bar opens up to a changing neighborhood

The Latest
Thursday, December 11, 2014
121114-oystervidBy MEGHAN NOLT

VIDEO: Revamping a Classic — an iconic eatery stays relevant in a changing marketplace.


Read more...

Growing a mobility cluster

News
Friday, October 31, 2014
0414 bikes bd2f6052BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

Why are there so few transportation startups in Portland?  The city’s leadership in bike, transit and pedestrian transportation has been well-documented.  But that was then — when government and nonprofits paved the way for a new, less auto centric way of life.


Read more...

Corner Office: Steve Tatone

January-Powerbook 2015
Saturday, December 13, 2014

Seven tidbits about the president and CEO of AKT Group.


Read more...

The short list: 4 companies engaged in a battle of the paddles

The Latest
Thursday, December 04, 2014
pingpongthumbBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Nothing says startup culture like a ping pong table in the office, lounge or lobby.


Read more...

Powerbook Perspective

January-Powerbook 2015
Friday, December 12, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

A conversation with Oregon state economist Josh Lehner.


Read more...

Leading with the right brain

News
Tuesday, December 09, 2014
120914-manderson-thumbBY LINDA BAKER

On the eve of the Portland Ad Federation's Rosey Awards, Matt Anderson, CEO of Struck, talks about the transition from creative director to CEO, the Portland talent pool and whether data is the new black in the creative services sector.


Read more...

Old school: Paulsen's Pharmacy maintains old fashion ethos

The Latest
Thursday, December 18, 2014
121914-pharmacy-thumbBY MEGHAN NOLT

VIDEO: Under the radar — complete with a soda counter, the traditional Paulsen's Pharmacy looks to compete with big box retailers.


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