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Hunter Kaiser + Randy Fiser
Today in The Lounge, Nick interviews, Hunter Kaiser, owner of the interdisciplinary design firm, H K+C, followed by a chat with Randy Fisher, CEO of ASID. Learn about Hunter’s nonlinear journey to creating his own firm and his tips for growing and maintaining his business. Then stay tuned for updates on Randy and Nick’s collaboration at KBIS in January.
The Early Years
Hunter Kaiser enjoys a Saturday brunch, the local farmers market, and visits to the lake. As a child, he found himself often moving around. Then in high school, his parents built a home in New Hampshire and hired an interior designer. This was his first face to face exposure to interior design. Although he was interested in in the process, he wasn’t interested in pursuing design. Instead, he spent his first year in college taking science and math courses as a pre-med major. This all changed by his sophomore year when he transferred to Indiana University where he ultimately received his degree in Interior Design. After college Hunter worked at Grisworld, Heckle and Kelly, an architecture firm which has now been purchased by Nelson, and focused on corporate interiors in the financial sector. After working for GHK for 5 years, Hunter transitioned to a job in sales at Henrickson, an Allsteel dealer in Chicago, his hometown for the past 17 years. Upon leaving Henricken, Hunter spent an additional 5 years in furniture sales as an Architecture and Sales rep for Herman Miller. Then in 2011, with one client in the book, Hunter left Herman Miller to start his own company.
Although his path was somewhat nonlinear, Hunter credits his experience in furniture sales as the key to get him to where he is today. His career journey ultimately taught him how to run a business. At Henricksen, Hunter had the opportunity to be an entrepreneur but with the support of the company to back him up. Alternatively, at Herman Miller he learned how to cultivate relationships and how to quickly read an audience. He still utilizes these skills in the day to day operations of running his business.
Starting The Firm
When Hunter left Herman Miller in 2011, he walked straight into a design meeting for his new business. With a lean staff of 2, his company works both nationally and globally with clients in Australia, Paris and across the United States. Their main focus is restaurants, retail and residential, using a holistic design approach, graphics, branding, and client experience. In the beginning, the firm started out doing wedding events and designing store windows for clients. Working on weddings enabled his company to focus on lifestyle and experience. Hunter had control of everything from the look and feel to the floral arrangements. As the company expanded into retail and restaurants, they continue to maintain this holistic approach, curating the customer experience and focusing on the details.
Hunter attributes their continued growth to the layers of deep relationships they have built over the years. Reputation has been vital, as their design community is small. Not only is personal reputation important, but also the reputation of others within the design network. When a project is located in a city where the staff has never been, Hunter relies on his national network of designers to inquire about local contractors or installers, vendors and receiving warehouses for large deliveries. The strength of their reputation and consul provides him with trusted local contacts to successfully execute the project demands. He also credits speaking in front of people, networking, and social media to maintain a continual client base. Due to their continued growth and focus on a holistic design approach Hunter has rebranded his company from Hunter Kiser, LLC to HK+C. In looking back at the last 5 yrs of business, he realized the team wasn’t just about him and wanted to celebrate all talents. The ‘Plus C’ responds to all the ways they add to the client: They are great connectors, collectors, curators, and creators.
In his many years of business, the biggest lesson Hunter has learned is how important it is for entrepreneurs to stick together. It is key to have a peer to peer experience as it is easy to feel as if you are on an island. Having a strong network where you can bounce ideas off of each other has been vital. It is also important to have a balanced mindset. Do not focus solely on operation and minimize designing, or vice versa. Remember marketing and creating must constantly be fervent and ongoing. Keeping a balanced mindset keeps everything in check. Also, look to software to keep the business organized. For example, to keep track of purchase orders for direct residential procurement, Hunter uses Studio Webware. It keeps them organized, tells them where money is and keeps the business clean.
To catch up with Hunter visit his new website www.hkplusc.com. Or spot him at one the upcoming design shows that he attends annually: HD Expo in Vegas, ICFF in NY, and Clerkenwell Design Week in London.
Randy Fiser on KBIS
Randy Fiser is the CEO of ASID. He will be podcasting with Nick at KBIS in Orlando this January. At KBIS, Nickand Randy will be at the ASID Pavilion co-hosting a session titled: “Designing for Impact”. This session will go deeper into health and wellness and seeks to bridge the gap between the impact of design and solutions that connect human beings to a space. Also in the Pavilion, there will be healthy snacks, exhibitors, and panelists such as Christine Abbate of Novita PR who will be presenting a session titled: “Getting your Stories Published for a Digital Age” and a session with ASID titled “Design Your Path with ASID.”
Chaise Lounge Updates
Be on the lookout for Randy in the Lounge in a new regular session on the podcast entitled “Ask Randy.”
Also check out the blog post by McKenna Heck “So, You Want To Be an Interior Designer. Now What?” which focus on career paths and opportunities for future interior designers.
WHO WANTS TO GO TO SPAIN? Check out the rules here.
Porcelanosa, will be having a 40% off storewide sale from November 22 to December 2.
ASID Pavilion Join Nick and Randy at the ASID Pavilion during Design and Construction week at KBIS in January.
KBIS – Jan 9 – 11
Atlanta Market – Jan 9 – 16
Dallas Market – Jan 17 – 23
Las Vegas Market – Jan 28 – Feb 1
Modernism Week – Feb 15 – 25
Design Bloggers Conference – March 4 – 6
BD West – April 4 – 5
High Point Market – April 14 – 18
HD Expo – May 2 – 4
ICFF – May 20 – 23
NeoCon – June 11 – 13
If you would like to hear more episodes, please visit us on iTunes or on our website at TheChaiseLoungePodcast.com. Lastly, find The Chaise Lounge on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter or post a review on iTunes, you may even hear your review read live on our next podcast. With that said keep dreaming big, and keep designing a great design business. See ya!
One comment on “172 – Hunter Kaiser + Randy Fiser”
Great show with Randy Fiser & Hunter Kaiser, did you pair them because their surnames rhyme? Just joking…really educational stuff, the 92% indoor statistic Randy highlighted was something we focused on at Health Care Design this week – its true – the EPA commissioned a study NHAPS (National Human Activity Pattern Survey) and in the USA the population spend 86% indoors + 7% inside vehicular transport = 93% – hence the focus on indoor air quality etc. (K-Life Krion)
Good tip on the draw-down sample for Benjamin Moore.
Hunter mentioned the aspiration to enter the boutique hotel segment of hospitality, you’ve tapped into a theme with this topic Nick. I look forward to catching up with HKplusC.
Nice announcement on #LetsGoToSpain.
Terrific audio journalism as always.
KUTGW, Cheers, AP