Photos By: Josh Triggs
Written By: Mary Decker
How does a company that has been in business for over 20 years stay in business during an economic downturn? How does it manage to grow while other businesses close their doors? For Mountaineer Kitchen and Bath, the answer is simple: they change with the times, offering more services while keeping their trademark quality workmanship and professionalism. More than anything they focus, as they always have, on two simple words: customer satisfaction.
Whether it’s allowing a client to explore their options, or providing quality workmanship at a fair price, Mountaineer Kitchen and Bath has maintained their focus on quality and customer satisfaction since its inception. It’s a simple truth: no matter how much you say about your company and your work, it’s the customers who decide whether your business is worth recommending.
“When you work to help people, the money will follow,” has been a guiding principle Jeff Michael, coowner of Mountaineer Kitchen and Bath, has followed throughout his life.
When customers are happy with your work, they tell their friends. It’s that simple.
“You can’t buy better advertising,” Jeff adds, acknowledging that many of their customers have seen their work, not in the showroom, but rather in their friends’ homes.
In 1994 when Michael Blessing founded the company, he worked to provide quality cabinets and counter tops to his customers. Through it all, he never lost sight of the fact that he was working on people’s homes. He built the business one satisfied customer at a time, always focusing on quality and attention to detail.
When he was looking to retire in 2012, he began looking for someone who would honor that reputation and give his customers the quality they’d come to expect.
Enter, Jeff Michael and Kurt Tiegs, two friends with complimentary experience in the business.
When they found out Michael was selling his business, they got together and weighed their options. Between the two of them, they had experiences in real estate, finance, carpentry and general contracting. One thing their experience taught them was the importance of a good reputation.
Together, they decided to join forces and build on the legacy Michael Blessing had begun. The sale turned out to be exactly what all three of them were looking for. Jeff Michael, Kurt Tiegs and Michael Blessing agreed so much in fact that even as Michael sold them the business, he hired on as a salesman. He will stay with the company until he decides to fully retire.
Customers were perhaps skeptical at first; how could anyone maintain the level of devotion to detail Michael had established? After all, Jeff and Kurt had bought the business and had no reason to feel the same way Michael felt towards the business he had built from the ground up.
They soon learned that Jeff and Kurt had no intention of changing the quality or professionalism Michael had worked so hard to establish. Instead, they were building built on it, adding services and staff to support their growing business.
As one client stated in a review, “I used this company on two previous occasions to install bath cabinets and vanity tops and was very pleased with the result. Since that time the company was sold, but nothing in their quality of work or service has changed…”
It is something they have worked hard to maintain, making sure they continued to provide quality work at a fair price even as the company grew in size and scope.
“Mike started out with cabinets and counter tops,” Mike explained. “We’ve added tiling and flooring, allowing us to handle remodeling as well as cabinetry.”
By combining their experience and expertise, Jeff and Kurt were in a good place to offer customers what they needed.
“It’s about what the customer wants,” Jeff explains, talking about the fact that renovations and remodeling are very personal things. Honoring that and serving the customer means listening to what the client wants and working to get it for them, not just selling them something because it’s what’s in stock.
Instead Jeff and Kurt work with the customer and take the time to find out what they’re looking for. If a customer walks in with a plan, they will review it and make sure they understand it before moving forward If however, the customer isn’t sure what they want, they take the time to get to know them and explore the possibilities until they determine what the customer wants.
As they talk, Jeff and Kurt get a feel for the customer, their tastes and preferences. Then they begin with a sketch, allowing the customer to fill in the details before taking the basic design and digitizing it.
From there, using 20/20 Design, they complete the design, allowing the customer to see their vision come to life. From within the software, they can change the surfaces and layout and create a virtual walk through so the customer can get a feel for how their kitchen or bath design will come together.
Once the design is settled, the work begins. They aren’t just selling the client a layout— they’re selling them craftsman workmanship.
They don’t just install cabinets; they make sure they fit the space properly.
“Sometimes the rooms in a house aren’t level,” Jeff will point out. Buildings settle and things that were level fall out of plum.
There have been cases where this was the problem they were called upon to solve and much to the client’s surprise, rather than just shimming the cabinetry or counter tops into place, they re-planed the surface and the cabinets to make them fit properly.
Jeff points out that this is the difference between a craftsman and a carpenter. This was a distinction Michael Blessing had started and one Kurt and Jeff had no intention of changing. It is part of what sets them apart.
They don’t stop thinking about the customer once the design is settled and the work begins either. They make sure they take the families into consideration, remembering that many times people are living in the homes they are working on and they do their best to keep the disruption to a minimum, cleaning up at the end of each day.
This attention to detail also means, that rather than simply destroying what they are replacing, the staff of Mountaineer Kitchen and Bath tries to salvage what it can, donating used cabinets and equipment to Habitat for Humanity and the Rescue Mission as well as supporting local churches such as Independent Bible Church and Christian Faith Academy.
Because of their commitment to quality and community, they are members of both the Eastern Panhandle Home Builder’s Association and the Berkeley County Chamber of Commerce.
According to Jeff, “if you’re in business to help people, the money will follow.”
They work hard to help the community because they are part of it, having grown up in the Panhandle, Jeff and Kurt take giving back to the community seriously. “At the end of the day,” Jeff confided. “You have to remember who you’re working for.”
And that is the way you build a business, one customer at a time. You can visit them at 967 Hedgesville Road in Martinsburg or email them at email@example.com.