Knobelsdorff estimator Kyle Johnson is one of those guys you immediately want to get to know. With a life-size John Wayne cutout in his office, Kyle totes a southern drawl and enjoys his country-western. A family man and old soul at heart, Kyle took a chance on KE by uprooting his family from Illinois and moving to Minnesota. It wasn't long after Kyle started at KE that we knew we had a keeper.
KE CEO Karl von Knobelsdorff said this of Kyle, "Kyle is the type of person you feel like you have known your entire life. He is an outstanding person and we are very lucky to have him on our team."
We asked Kyle "Why KE?". Here's what he said:
- How did you hear about KE?
I saw a Knobelsdorff truck in Mendota, IL. KE was working at the Mendota ADM facility and I had never seen that name before, which was strange because I've been in the electrical trade for almost 20 years and familiar with most of the contractors in Illinois. I decided to fire up the Google machine and check it out. I distinctly remember thinking to myself “who the heck are these guys?”. Never would I have thought that soon after I’d be driving to Minnesota to interview with that very same company. Even at that point I still never would have thought in a million years I would be leaving everything I’d ever known in Illinois and move to Minnesota.
- Do you recommend KE to others? If so, why?
Absolutely, 100%, no hesitation yes. With all of the stress of moving my family, selling a house, trying to find a house, guilt for leaving my family and what we all knew. There were a lot of times at the beginning where I was overwhelmed and I would think to myself "what have I just done?". But every single time I stepped foot in the office, all of that disappeared, and I absolutely, without a doubt knew that we had made the right decision.
It’s hard to explain, but the culture, people, and environment here is awesome. Everyone wants everybody to succeed, achieve their goals and perform to their fullest potential. Personally, I think that’s pretty awesome.
- What attracted you most to KE?
I would say it was a combination of the people and the fit. From the first few phone calls I had with Tiff and Jamie to the trip my wife and I made. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming, and It just felt right. Even with the growth KE has recently seen, the thing I admire the most is KE's ability to not become complacent or content. We are continually trying to get better in pretty much every aspect of the business. I think we should all be like that, whether you’re an apprentice, journeyman, or the boss.
That type of culture starts at the top and trickles down, and it is obvious that Karl is not content and always looks for a way to improve himself and this great company. This spoke volumes to me, as I felt like I was stuck where I was. Sure, I could have made a good living where I was, but I was pretty much as far as I was going to go. With some people, that is ok. But for me, being complacent for the rest of my career is not who I am or what I want to teach my kids. As they say, if you're not growing, your dying. Get out there push yourself, and get uncomfortable. You sure as heck might fail, but you might surprise yourself and reach heights that you never thought possible to.
- How would you describe the culture at KE?
Fun, challenging, rewarding, and very family-oriented.
- What advice would you give an electrician looking for a change?
Don’t be afraid to get outside your comfort zone and be a lifelong learner. I’ve been in this trade for almost 20 years, and you would think eventually the number of things you’ve never seen before would slow down. But so far that hasn’t been the case. Technology is constantly changing this game, so you have to stay up to date to stay relevant. Push yourself, whether you’re a second-year apprentice, journeyman, or whatever step up and take that next step. The world has plenty of “helpers”, so separate yourself from the crowd and see what you can achieve you may be surprised.
- What’s been your most favorite project to work on so far?
There has been plenty so far, but I would say the project Viking Bid “C”. We were buried in the pre-construction side of work so we all worked together to get it done. As stressful as it was, we all came together and got a good accurate estimate out there right at the deadline and we got the job. It was truly a team effort. There were long nights, early mornings, a lot of caffeine, and of course some celebratory beers. It was all worth it, and I’d do it again tomorrow if I had the chance.
- Who is your KE mentor?
I honestly believe you can learn something from everyone. And that is true here at KE. There is a lot of knowledge walking around this place:
- Randy Vos is on that list. His work ethic and experience are great tools and very valuable.
- Karl, Shane Matthees and the rest of the guys upstairs have been great as well with helping me learn processes.
- Pam Johns is awesome.
- And two very humble people that work under the radar: Karrie Danielson and Chris McCormick. Karrie is very hardworking, organized, and thorough. If you want to know how to conduct yourself as a professional, just watch Mr. McCormick. He gets down to business, is social but you won't see him partaking in any water cooler gossip. He is always positive as well. As a young professional especially, it can be easy to get wrapped up in negative talk or gossip. So having people like Chris and Karrie as role models are very important.