Today we’d like to introduce you to Ken Pride.
Ken, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I grew up helping my dad build houses in his spare time. We built the house we lived in on Prides Ln in Crystal Beach. We also built the rest of the houses on Prides Ln, which my parents rented out to tenants. I learned attention to detail and a strong work ethic. Eventually his spare time turned in to semi-retirement, my helping turned into full-fledged partnership, and Pride and Son Remodeling was born. Never mind that I was 16 and supposed to be attending High School in Alvin, TX where we had recently moved. Although as you can imagine, it took many years before my mom quit “minding”. We ran our remodeling business out of the back of a 1951 F-100 pick-up- cue the Sanford and Son theme song- we never needed to advertise and stayed busy with painting, carpentry, and general home improvement around the Alvin area. With the occasional afternoon off for fishing and Pearl beer. He was semi-retired after all!
My dad, Ray Pride, came to Houston in 1961 to build things-much bigger things than houses though. He was an iron worker. And he worked as a connector, building the skyscrapers that now make up the Houston skyline. Imagine going to work every day to run across a 4” beam, 300’ in the air, to the outermost edge of the steel frame, lean out over the edge of nothing, and catch the beams being swung over by the crane. My dad was quite the legend, his bosses would often remark that he would “trip over everything there was on the ground, but you couldn’t knock him off the steel!” I grew up hearing the harrowing stories and insider details of what happened day to day at this building or that building as they were going up in downtown Houston. I loved the stories and the city they were about.
When semi-retirement gave way to full time retirement my parents moved to East Texas and although I was invited, the last thing I wanted to do was move farther out to the country. I always wanted to move to Houston. And now I was 18, on my own, armed with painting skills, carpentry skills, an eye for detail, and a willingness to work. So, I did just that! My tools and I moved to Houston. My strategy to get work was to “invest” in a free copy of the yellow pages and start calling construction companies. I started in the A’s and asked if they needed any contract help. I began building my business in the city I always loved. By the time I made it to the “C’s” I had developed, through word of mouth, enough residential home improvement clients to have a waiting list.
A few years into my Houston journey the world began to change. Businesses were shutting down, people were being laid off, work was becoming scarce, foreclosure signs littered streets of neighborhoods new and old, the Houston Oil Bust of the 80’s had hit. Painters and carpenters were slashing prices to try to stay afloat. Competition within the shrinking remodeling market was fierce. A natural consequence of the lower and lower prices was lower and lower quality-low quality workmanship, cheap, inexperienced labor, and cheap, low quality materials. Instead of lowering my prices and quality I chose to do the opposite. I’m picky, detail oriented, and refuse to put out sub-standard work. So, in my early 20’s, in the middle of a deep recession, with no safety net, when they went low- I went high. I used the highest quality materials and raised my prices. By raising my prices I was able to spend more time to do the job right, instead of rushing it to get on to the next one. And I began a policy that I still hold to- one job at a time. I listened to the stories and complaints that my clients had about previous contractors and decided the smart thing to do, was the opposite of that! I quickly realized that to make sure each project met my standards, I would need to be present on the jobsite. So, I’m a working contractor. And I work on every job. Being there helps to solve issues with any part of the project as they come up. Being there affords me the opportunity to be more creative, and help the client achieve their vision. And it allows me to use and improve my skills in carpentry, painting, and design. These strategies have served me well over the years. And many of the people who first hired me in the early days are still my clients today!
Over the years (37 years in this profession so far) my work evolved. And the projects I take on have grown in scale. I enjoy the design aspect as much as the building. My goal is “timeless design” and bridging traditional elegance with just a touch of contemporary. I design and build custom kitchens, bathrooms, room additions, and more, still one job at a time. Family is the key to Pride Custom Builders. We’re a small family business, a boutique remodeling company, and we like it that way. Our clients become like family. My wife handles all the office duties for me (her least favorite thing to do. So I take it as a huge compliment) she also designs and installs the custom mosaic backsplashes, patios, fireplaces, etc in my remodeling projects and the houses we flip together. My son is studying Construction Management at University of Houston. And I imagine…One day while I’m off fishing… he’ll be hiring iron workers to build a skyscraper.
Has it been a smooth road?
It’s hard work. But the road was smooth enough if you leave out all the chemicals, dust, fiberglass insulation, and asbestos I’ve had to “eat” over the years.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Pride Custom Builders – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
My timeless design skills -ex: recently a house that I flipped 10 years ago went on the market again and there had been absolutely no changes made to it since I flipped it in ’07. It was described as “a masterpiece of design with an eye to the trends” hahaha
PS- it sold in 1 day
What sets us apart is that we don’t advertise, get all clients from referrals, and always have a waiting list
Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
Best- I love Houston, I love the weather -yes that’s right, and we can boat all year. I love the people- the great variety of people from all over the world. A truly international city. We all seem to get along fine! I love the opportunity. It is the “city of opportunity” after all, it says so at the airport! I knew as an 18 year old that if I moved to Houston there’s no way I couldn’t succeed. I love our economy. During the crash of ’08 when property values in other places in the US were dropping by 50 and 60% we lost a net 1% in all. We learned our lessons from the crash in the 80’s and had safeguards in place. I love how much more house you can get for your money here. The educational opportunities- our daughter is an HSPVA grad! I love the proximity to lakes and beaches. I love what’s been done with downtown. All the music, and bars, condos, and restaurants. And you can put your bike on the rail and jump off at any point in downtown and ride your bike around. I love the food! Uchi, Niko Niko’s, El Tiempo! I love the music! There is some serious talent in this town- that being said- go see my band “The Hectic” I’ll throw you a drumstick!!
Least- The tollways! I do not like paying to sit in traffic.
- Website: pridecustombuilders.com
- Phone: 7134434492
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Image Credit: Rhonda Meredith