One of the first things new students want to know is how our course Instructors came to be with AHIT and how they started their home inspection careers. We recently sat down with AHIT veteran Instructor and founder of Ground Floor Home Inspection in Colorado, Chris Kjeldsen and had a conversation about exactly that.
AHIT: What was your motivation to start a career in home inspection?
CK: I spent most of my early career working for corporations as a Controller/CFO. When I found myself downsized out of a job, I decided it was time for a life change. I really wanted a flexible schedule—something that would give me the freedom to earn as much as I wanted and have freedom with my time. I also wanted a career I could do even as I got older, without a lot of physical strain.
At that time, I visited a BNI (Business Network International) meeting and they only allow one person from a profession per group. I remember thinking about doing full-time photography or opening a karate studio (I’m a third-degree black belt with Universal Kempo Karate), but they already had those professions. I was open to suggestions, and after a couple of weeks, a realtor friend called me and said, “you should be a home inspector”. That night I looked into what training there was. I found AHIT and have been blessed ever since.
AHIT: How did you end up starting a multi-inspector firm?
CK: When I signed up for the class, I was 100% invested, spending long hours studying the excellent materials. I listened to every word my instructor, and now great friend, John Coleman taught. After class, I knew I had developed a love for this career that I never had before. I followed John Coleman’s travels and made sure to show up to whatever class he was teaching in Colorado. In John’s words, “Chris became the kitten I couldn’t lose.” One time after one of the classes, John looked at me and said, “within five years, you will be running a multi-inspector firm and teaching for AHIT.” Again, I followed his wise words, and it happened.
I hired a business coach, Kelly Ikenberry, who has been an invaluable resource. My initial goal was to build a successful company that valued integrity, correct business practices, and customer service. My first inspector came along when my schedule was getting so busy, I was losing jobs. And my second shortly after that. I also found an administrative assistant to answer the phone so I wouldn’t lose any work from missing calls. It was important to me that my realtors and clients had the same friendly voice to talk to every time they picked up the phone. I also added a part-time marketing person to help with realtor contacts. I always moved forward in building this fantastic business, fueled by the passion that grew from the day I started.
My initial goal of building a successful company to sell started to change as I kept merely having so much fun building a business. It changed more dramatically as I started teaching for AHIT and then added more inspectors to the firm. Joe and Wally, both friends from my karate days. All of a sudden, we weren’t building a company to sell, we were building a company where we were having fun growing, succeeding and making a good living.
Now we are a family business, with my wife as my administrative assistant and Wally’s daughter Hannah as our marketing guru, and my daughter Kitty. I also had the opportunity to add my friends David and Eric to my work family.
At this point, our company (not my company) is truly thriving. We believe in raising the standards of the home inspection industry and in disrupting the status quo. We are a family, and this fantastic company is set to provide for our families for generations to come.
AHIT: How did you know you “made it” in the business?
CK: In my second year of inspecting homes, I was driving from one inspection to the other and got a phone call for another inspection. The realtor that called me was a referral from another realtor. I remember thinking about how the company was now alive! Alive and now would grow on its own.
AHIT: How many inspectors do you have in your firm today?
CK: We have a team of five inspectors, one full-time marketing person, and an administrative assistant. Joe Gardino, Walter Kruger, Kitty Rhea, Eric Mote, David Stanton, Treese Kjeldsen, Hannah Sanchez, myself and our amazing families. I also still work with business coach Kelly Ikenberry, and industry partners Dewayne Melvin and Rex Anne Nutt-Powell. This family started with a dream and now benefits all of us and many more. This is a family that will continue to grow.