A Family Business Built on Sheet Metal and Great Service

K & E Sheet Metal has worked with contractors and homeowners in the rural Glen Falls, N.Y., area for more than 20 years. The father-and-son shop, run by Bob and Kevin Raymond, specializes in custom sheet-metal fabrication and traditional heating and cooling installation. Need a new A/C unit? These guys can install one. Got a furnace with a broken duct? They can fix that, too.

We recently spoke with co-owner Kevin Raymond, 33, about the company’s origins, what it takes to stay ahead of competition, and how he uses GoPayment’s iPhone app and card reader.

GoPayment: How did K & E get started, and how has the business grown?

Raymond: My father started the business 20 years ago as a heating and cooling company. He had a background in fabrication, so he began doing that, too. I joined the company 13 years ago after getting out of college. I’ve never had any formal training; my dad taught me all the basics.

We started in our garage and eventually moved to a bigger space. The company’s grown slowly through word of mouth. A lot of our customers have been with us for 20 years. We’ve never done any advertising: I think we do a good enough job that the work speaks for itself.

Who are your main competitors, and how do you set yourself apart?

Our main “rivals” are bigger companies. My fabrication work is all done by hand, whereas bigger companies have plasma cutters and more manpower to get things done fast. A job might take me longer, but I feel the quality of the work is better. Honestly, I don’t feel like those businesses are really competitors. I can do small jobs for a lower price for smaller businesses. If a guy running a heating and cooling business needs a small piece, I can charge him less than a big company because we have lower overhead.

How have America’s economic problems affected your business?

It’s been tough. Before the economy collapsed, we never had to worry about our cash flow. Since then, we’ve had to rethink everything: We’ve been looking at where we’re wasting money and how we can put more into savings. I’m trying to organize things so that, if the situation gets worse, we’ll be prepared.

You recently began using GoPayment to process customer payments. How has that changed the way your business operates?

Being able to take credit card payments through GoPayment has really helped our company. A lot of our customers like to pay cash, but they don’t always have cash on hand. And I don’t like to take checks unless I know and trust the customer, because since the economy collapsed, I’ve had some checks bounce. Credit cards are generally the most convenient option.

Before we got a GoPayment account, we used to use a credit-card processor, but the fees were way too high — sometimes as much as $50 or $100 on a single charge. When I found out about GoPayment, I went out and bought an iPhone just so I could use the tool. The cost of the phone was nothing compared with the service fees we’d been paying. Now, because we’re below the $1,000-a-month credit-card income limit, there are no monthly fees for processing credit cards at all.

GoPayment also makes our business more portable: Before, if my dad was out on a job, he’d have to call me at the office with the customer’s credit-card details. Now he can just process the payment instantly with our card reader, and we get paid on the spot.

About Kathryn Hawkins

Kathryn Hawkins is a principal at the content marketing agency Eucalypt Media. She's written about business, marketing, and entrepreneurship for publications including BNET, TheAtlantic.com, Inc.com, and owns and operates the positive news site Gimundo. Follow her on Twitter at @kathrynhawkins.
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