KAHL creates success in northern Nevada with office decor
By the early 2000s, Dan and Suzy Kahl were living and working in the Bay Area, while raising their four children.
But the Kahls had grown tired of the hectic work lifestyle that included long commutes and 70-80-hour workweeks, and were in the market for more relaxed environment.
Dan Kahl, a veteran of the office furniture business in the Bay Area, had family roots in Nevada and his family had visited northern Nevada on a few occasions. After some consideration, the Kahls took a leap of faith in 2001 and moved to Reno to start their own office furniture business, now called KAHL Commercial Interiors, Inc.
KAHL serves as a contract office furniture supplier while providing planning and design and installation services. KAHL also handles warranty work, in case there is a malfunction with piece of furniture, they can handle it firsthand.
The company moved to an office in downtown Reno and has another location in Las Vegas. It serves clients in virtually every region in Nevada and parts of northeastern California.
KAHL is opening a new outlet store, KAHL Office Furniture Outlet, at 2675 Mill Street in Reno for clients who need a quick turnaround time on setting up new office environments at an affordable price.
“A lot of our clients when they made a decision on office environment, they need it to happen now. That was the whole purpose of the outlet store. They could see it, they could buy it and we can set it up,” Dan Kahl said.
“We may have a company that comes to us and says we just hired five interns and we need five chairs and desks set up ASAP, and they can contact us and say can we do that within our budget,” Suzy Kahl added.
When they started the business, the Kahls were fortunate to have plenty of capital to work with.
“We moved here from a position of strength with the money we made from selling our house in the Bay Area,” Dan Kahl said. “We probably wouldn’t have gone into business for ourselves without that kind of capital.”
In addition to opening the business, Dan and Suzy had to raise their four children. But they were able to enroll them in the Brookfield School, a private school in southwest Reno that offered activities for their children throughout the day, so the parents could focus on business.
At first, the Kahls were pleasantly surprised how northern Nevada business community welcomed them with open arms.
“(Starting a business in Reno) was a bit easier than I expected,” Dan Kahl said. “I thought it was going to be a good-old-boys network dominated by long established relationships. But people were actually open to us competing for their business, without having a long background in the area.”
The Kahls got heavily involved in charitable and networking groups, including the local chapter of Rotary Club.
“Dan was heavily involved in networking groups and building relationships along with the trust and integrity that we wanted to represent,” Suzy Kahl said.
The couple developed key relationships with several large private companies, although a good chunk of that business went away after the recession hit in the late 2000s. To offset that loss of income, they turned to the public works sector, including clients such as the University of Nevada, Reno, Truckee Meadows Community College and local government entities. Some of the pre-recession private business has returned as the economy continues to rebound.
“Some of our clients are the biggest corporations in Nevada,” Dan Kahl said.
Office furniture concepts have changed dramatically even since KAHL first opened its doors. Demand in office concepts has shifted to focus on employee retention program, using the latest technology to promote employee comfort and safety. The Kahls indicated that since the recession, clients have emphasized affordability as well.
KAHL offers various workstation and cubicle concepts, conference or training room setups or even reception area solutions
Once of the most popular concepts today is the high adjustable desk, allowing a worker the ability to sit or stand while performing job tasks, depending on their preference. Another preference is office furniture that can support myriad technological devices that are commonplace in work environments. They are also seeing a preference from clients to maximize available lighting for employees.
As for business operations, the couple said finding and retaining a quality workforce is a constant focus. One method that has been beneficial for KAHL is working with temporary staffing agencies. Some of the company’s long-term employees actually began on a temporary basis.
“Finding good people is the biggest challenge, but we’ve had people who have been with us for 10 years,” Dan Kahl said. “But working with temp agencies has worked out really well for us.”
The couple did joke though that only one of their kids is interested in following in the family business.
Suzy Kahl added the company has invested in its own office environment concepts and installed user-friendly operating software to entice employees to stay with the company.
She also encouraged employees to have a healthy work-life balance; something they are conscious of in their own right. They both learned their lesson from working long hours while living in the Bay Area.
“Being in Reno helps us to turn off our attention to the business,” Suzy Kahl said. “We like to play and this area gives us the chance have those opportunities.”
Now going on 17 years in business, the opportunities Northern Nevada have presented to the couple in and outside the workplace validated their decision. They have no doubt their business and Northern Nevada will continue to prosper.
“We’re very grateful we decided move here because the people are so warm and friendly,” Suzy Kahl said. “When we first got involved in the business community here I was amazed at the professionalism and the synergy going on in Reno.”
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