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Independent carpenter

image Kelley Hearn, owner of Chaparral Custom Cabinetry

SAN ANTONIO - Everyone has to work a job they don’t like in order to pay the bills at some point. But isn’t it great when one finds one’s passion, thus making work a joy and you’re able to do what you were called to do?

 

 

 

 

    Kelley Hearn is such a person. After he graduated from college with a finance degree in 1992, he was led to believe he had to join the corporate world. But even when he was applying and sending out résumés, his heart wasn’t in it.
    After working in a variety of jobs, Hearn went back to school to learn how to start his own business. During this time, he stopped by a friend’s house who was building kitchen cabinets in his garage for a builder. He asked Hearn if he was busy. He was not. Hearn helped his buddy for the next several days, and “within a week I could tell this was a passion of mine.”
    Within a short period of time, Hearn had developed Lotus spreadsheets to log estimates and track workflow. After a month, “I was running the business,” he said.
    His friend had a short-term mindset for building cabinets, while Hearn saw a long-term future in it. While his buddy was partying, Hearn started Chaparral Custom Cabinetry on Jul. 4, 1994, in effect, declaring his own independence to be who he always wanted to be and do that which he loved.
    Hearn had thought he would get into homebuilding as he had experience in it. He had worked for several other family-owned businesses, but found that he was making money for someone else.
    But Hearn readily admits, “I’m a control freak and I can control my own environment [with my own business].” In the homebuilding profession, he would be at the mercy of others’ timing or lack thereof.
    And, what Hearn really loves is dealing one-on-one with his customers to design just the perfect space for them, built with their tastes, lifestyles and personalities in mind. A homebuilder, by necessity, can’t do this. He can. “You’re in much more control of your world,” he said.
    This interaction with one customer at a time, for Hearn, is far better than dealing with nine other sub-contractors and all they bring to the equation.
    Hearn has a lineup of basic cabinet styles, but when he works with a client, he often discovers that he and they come up with innovative ways of executing the cabinets. He likens it to taking a standard box of crayons, then mixing them together to produce colors that the standard box didn’t have or intend.
    This is the driver and joy of Hearn’s work - the interaction, the creativity, the freedom to produce something unique and wonderful.
    “The thing I find most satisfying for myself is putting all those parts and pieces [of a project] together and they fit together like a puzzle,” he said.
    Even though Hearn’s heart wasn’t into the white-collar corporate world, he did find that his financial training has helped with running a business. And in his youth, Hearn did a lot of house framing. This taught him how to look at and read plans. Basically, everything in Hearn’s past came together at his Aha! moment when he built his first cabinet in his buddy’s garage and realized this was it. Since he always knew he wanted to run his own business and not work for someone else, this was the point in time when the light bulb came on.
    Now, Hearn builds cabinets for kitchen and bathroom, makes home offices, wine cellars, shelving and custom furniture. With virtually no advertising or extreme social media presence (other than a website), word-of-mouth generates plenty to keep Hearn busy. Hearn has found his calling with his custom carpentry for his clients.
    Sure beats punching a time clock for someone else. Independence Day isn’t just a holiday for our country.
    Chaparral Custom Cabinetry is in Boerne. -dsz


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Dan Zulli dan@constructionnews.net