Kitchen Magic

Kitchen Magic

Everyone knows the legend of Apple’s humble garage-based origins. Full-service kitchen remodeler Kitchen Magic, headquartered in Nazareth, has a similar tale to tell—but this one’s actually true. The company began in a “mole hole!”

Rewind to 1979. According to James Mayers, Assistant Vice President of Operations, company founders Jost (“Joe”) and Reine Fleck had been operating a basement waterproofing business. A particularly dry year put a severe crimp into it, and the Flecks sought a different income stream.

They chose cabinet refacing—a home improvement method that can substantially refresh a kitchen without the time and expense of installing completely new cabinetry. Existing cabinet frames are reinforced with a layer of plywood topped with a veneer of actual wood or laminate material, carefully color-matched to the new doors and drawer fronts. Complementary hardware and molding finish the look.

It’s a concept that makes sense. “Eighty percent of what you see in a typical kitchen is the doors and drawers,” said marketing manager Linda Fennessy. If the cabinetry itself is still solid, there’s little point in tearing it out. And refacing is a permanent solution. Joe developed an application method that was so reliable, he offered a “lifetime of home ownership” warranty.

The company’s first office was in a flood-prone basement in Allentown, a cramped spot that Joe referred to as “the Mole Hole.” He announced the business with a pricey gamble— full-page newspaper ad—that paid off.

Today, the mole hole is long gone; after several relocations, Kitchen Magic settled into its current headquarters in Nazareth in 2010—and that represented a major change for the company.

“It’s the first building the company has owned,” Mayers said. “For years, we operated in rented facilities, in scattered locations. Even when we were in a single office complex in Phillipsburg, our offices were on the second floor of one building, while our fabrication shop was in another. Now, all of our operations are in one 62,000-square foot facility.”

While its heart may be in one place, its sales operations cover New Jersey, New York, many of the New England states and Delaware. Its scope of products and services has likewise expanded to include all aspects of kitchen remodeling—from simple refacing jobs to building and installing completely new cabinets, shelves, countertops, backsplashes and floors.

Other companies may tell you they ‘go the extra mile’ for customers. But at Kitchen Magic, we go the extra five miles!

Kitchen Magic is still a family-owned company. “Joe and Reine wanted to have a business that they could pass along to their daughters, Cindy, Renate, and Lotte, which are all Senior Vice-Presidents,” Mayers said. “They grew up with Kitchen Magic, and they have a real love for it.” President Brett Bacho is married to Lotte, and her sisters Renate Sprung and Cindy Purcell are deeply involved in its operations as well.

But that doesn’t mean Kitchen Magic operates in a familial bubble. “We realized the importance of building this business beyond just the family members,” Mayers said. “It’s a good way to bring in new ideas and new approaches.”

One example is its embrace of “lean manufacturing” procedures and processes. “One of the main principles of lean manufacturing is to protect jobs, not eliminate them,” Mayers said. “It emphasizes becoming more efficient, so there will be more time available for job training and learning about overall operations.” Kitchen Magic’s open-book management technique helps employees better understand how their own performance contributes to the company’s fiscal health. “When employees are invested in the process, when they’re more engaged, they become sort of like owners themselves,” Mayers said.

Unlike its competitors, Kitchen Magic relies on in-home sales. Rather than requiring its customers to travel miles to a showroom, Kitchen Magic’s team of 30 sales reps visits pre-qualified candidates to make their presentations.

“Basically, we bring the showroom to you, with samples of doors, countertops, tile, drawer pulls and hinges and other hardware,” Mayers said. “You can get a better idea of how each component will look in your own home that way.”

And while “in-home sales” may conjure images of loud, pushy sales reps who won’t take “no” for an answer, Kitchen Magic’s staff uses no high-pressure tactics. “Even if you’re just thinking about a kitchen makeover, call us,” Fennessy said. “The presentation lasts between 45-60 minutes, and there’s no obligation.” Kitchen Magic also maintains a traditional showroom, which offers appointment-only visits.

That low-key approach is extremely effective; Mayers said fiscal 2017 revenues were over $27 million.

Our customer service team works tirelessly to assist our customers throughout the installation process. They handle every aspect from delivery of materials to fabrication scheduling to installation. It’s a huge undertaking, but our staff makes it look easy.”

After a project is sold, a drafter comes into the home and takes precise measurements for each door to ensure a seamless fit later. Kitchen Magic doors are constructed with an engineered furniture grade core that is thermally fused with a maintenance-free covering (in over a dozen colors and wood-grain choices).

Fennessy added that Kitchen Magic’s products are American-made, reducing concerns about lower quality standards or volatile organic compound
(VOC) off-gassing.

Kitchen Magic’s attention to detail and follow-through results in high levels of customer satisfaction. “I’ve heard from happy customers over and over,” Fennessy said. “They’re delighted that they got everything they wanted – even when they asked for changes in mid-stream – and that our installers were so respectful of their homes. But that’s part of what we are. We want to be sure every customer has a positive experience. These homeowners entrust us with a big part of their homes, and we honor that trust. Other companies may tell you they ‘go the extra mile’ for customers. But at Kitchen Magic, we go the extra five miles!”

It’s earned other recognition as well. Qualified Remodeler has named Kitchen Magic to its Top 500 list for the past 14 years, and named it “#1 in kitchens” in 2018 – the fourth time the company’s earned that spot. It’s been listed in the Best of Houzz (an online community dedicated to architecture, interior design and decorating, landscape design and home improvement) every year since 2014, and appears on the “Lehigh Valley’s Top Workplaces” list.

Kitchen Magic HQ & Showroom

4243 Lonat Drive, Nazareth

Keebler has Ernie; Frosted Flakes has Tony the Tiger. But since the company’s founding, Kitchen Magic’s mascot has been the humble gnome.

Those bearded little fellows are known throughout Europe for their many fine qualities – they’re creative, industrious, take a good deal of pride in their work. And while they’re never seen by humans, the results of their labors are outstanding.

Little wonder, then, that Jost and Reine chose the gnome to represent Kitchen Magic’s commitment to high-quality craftsmanship. Reine’s late father, Stanley Waite, was a professional commercial artist. In 1979, he created the illustrations that adorn Kitchen Magic’s logo to this day. 

Come to think of it, gnomes are also rumored to live underground—perhaps they were looking after Joe when he was working in the “mole hole!”

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