A company that made it through two world wars, several other armed conflicts, the country's deepest depression, the Cuban Missile Crisis and numerous economic ups and downs and was able to persevere, prosper and expand had to be doing something right.
Michael Kinder & Sons, which traces its roots back to 1892, was able to survive because its founder, Michael Kinder and his four sons laid out a plan that focused on doing quality work and providing superior customer service. They began building houses. In fact, one of their first was Michael's house. Not many years later they branched out to bigger projects in the commercial and industrial marketplace. One of the first was St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Arcola, which was built for $10,934 and dedicated Oct. 29, 1899.
In the early years, the company, located at 5206 Decatur Road, continued to grow, doing business based on its reputation and repeat clients like General Electric, General Telephone, Essex Wire and others in the traditional method of general contractors throughout the area. They bid on projects and if they got the bid they would build the structure to the design specifications provided by the customer's architect on the customer's property.
The arrival at MKS of a fourth generation of Kinders, Doug and Bill, changed all that and brought an entirely new way of approaching a job that they simply refer to as the “MKS Technique.” It involves getting the MKS team in on a project during pre-construction when it's just an idea and following it through planning, design and building. As Doug explains it, “By getting in on a project early, the element of surprise is eliminated. In other words, we don't end up with a design that isn't workable and puts the project way over budget. In addition, we know whether or not the property is right for the construction and that there are no hidden underground problems. In fact, we can help secure property that will work. Our method adds value by helping clients through the process from the beginning to the end and is a way to guide them in making the right decisions. Overall,” he added, “it's cost-effective for the client.
“It's basically just a different delivery system,” he continued. “We build a team of partners that includes architects and civil engineers along with our outstanding professional staff of construction managers who handle all the details and cover the variables. This way we can offer a fair price, ensure quality and guarantee a successful project completed on time and on budget.”
The new owners brought with them experience gained working in large construction companies in Chicago after graduating from Purdue University. Doug, who returned to Fort Wayne in 1996, earned a degree in engineering. Bill, whose degree is in construction management, joined the company in 2001. They took over leadership of MKS in 2002. Both are Fort Wayne natives and graduates of Bishop Luers High School.
“Bill and I,” says Doug, “plan to stick with what got us to this point. And that is our core philosophy that states that we will serve our client's needs, no matter how large or small by providing quality construction products and services. We're really more interested doing the right thing for our clients and in their total satisfaction than in the volume of work we perform.”
Though much of its work has been performed within a 120-mile radius of Fort Wayne, MKS projects have taken the firm as far away as Argentina where it installed hundreds of cellular communication towers in 1993 for GTE Mobilnet. Recent local projects include Brotherhood Mutual, Turnstone, Micropulse, YWCA, Northeast Indiana Innovation Center, Lippert Components and Manchester University School of Pharmacy.
It has done multiple projects at Indiana Tech, Trine University, Taylor University, Manchester University and Ancilla College in Plymouth.
Later this month MKS will hold a private, official 125th anniversary celebration for clients, team partners and employees on the plaza of the Indiana Michigan Power Center in downtown Fort Wayne.
Additional activities will be conducted throughout the remainder of the year.