Building A Legacy

From Our Owner:

     The story behind what you are reading goes back to my early childhood.  I remember watching my dad physically crawl out the door, one morning, to get in his truck and go to work.  I didn’t know that his back was hurting him.  I also remember watching him come home that night, and dive right into chores that needed tending, of course bringing me with him on the wood pile that needed to be split and organized for the winter.  What imprinted on me, looking back, is that what he did that morning, all day, and even after dinner, really wasn’t about him.  He always found ways to make things happen and get them done.  Work ethic was not in short supply.  The other side to this story contributes just as much, if not even more, to what my company is all about today.  We must be active in everyday problem solving despite the conditions that face us, something I learned from watching my dad. 

     I can’t really say for sure that I have ever seen a job, with complexity, take place without some sort of problem needing to be solved.  I went to school to teach Chemistry & Biology.  Even today, I marvel at how science comes alive in nature and I enjoy being outdoors. In the middle of my schooling, there were problems to solve in my own mind.  I was doing very well in my classes, but I just found myself wandering off in the middle of the lectures. Eventually, it was apparent that I was going through the motions to ensure my grades were taken care of, but I lacked passion, like how it felt when there were tools in my hands, or when I was breathing in the crisp air of a Minnesota winter.  I talked with my Advisor and he pinned down what made me tick, very quickly.  Problem Solving.  Sure, there are plenty of problems to solve in Chemistry and Biology.  But for me, memorizing the “knowns”, and then re-teaching the “knowns”, just wasn’t the challenge that I needed.  My Advisor, in his wisdom, directed me, an extreme introvert, to go study people and learn about communication!  But I didn’t like people . . . I remember that clearly . . . talk about lifelong, introspective problem solving!

     Even while I was in college studying science, communication, and theology, I was working in construction, both in the commercial union environment and in the residential sector, doing my own concrete work as a sole proprietor, "Hemp Construction".  Of course, while studying communication, you eventually end up learning a little about listening.  After I received my second, somewhat shady, call about building a greenhouse, I realized that there was a problem with choosing “Hemp Construction” for a business name!  New problem to solve right?

     Shortly after college, I ended up in Texas, working in production framing.  This was not an area of construction that I enjoyed, thus compelling me to find a job with a company that did nothing but high-end custom framing.  I was still learning a lot about construction and my math background got me assigned to all the complicated details . . . I was in problem solving heaven!  We did hand framed-free standing-custom spiral stairs, built a replica of a castle, and it seemed like we put custom ceilings in every room, on every house.

     My studies of theology led me to a young men’s ministry out in East Texas, where I developed a Trades Program for the boys and men that were dedicating their time there.  From that experience, I ended up with some life longs friends who still contribute to what I do today.  In 1998, I moved back to Minnesota and was hired for a project management job with a remodeling company.  When the company was dissolved, I decided to start my own company.  I put in my first ICF foundation in 1998.  I didn’t know then what ICFs were going to turn into.  ICFs are currently one of the most efficient building systems you can choose from.  In picking a new company name, having already experienced the “greenhouse” inquiries,  I decided that Cornerstone Custom Construction, Inc. was going to be the new company.  Cornerstone officially began in 2000.  Remodels and additions were the company’s primary focus, and concrete was a natural point of focus. Several years after experiencing success with Cornerstone, it became clear that the company should solely focus on concrete work.  This involved switching from a contractor to a subcontractor.  The blessing in this move was that I already understood what contractors had to go through, and could ensure that as a subcontractor, the builders would experience something new with Cornerstone. Making this switch involved nearly a 3-year process. The success in gaining a reputation that attracted builders, enabled Cornerstone to become a standalone subcontractor-based company. We are now the primary concrete contractor for many elite and small builders, offering quality and cutting-edge concrete methods. We are also an industry leading company in the area in ICF and SIP Construction. 

     With the knowledge gained in growing Cornerstone Custom Construction, a couple of things started becoming clear to me.  The first was that our construction industry was and still is, not good at communication or putting together systems.  The industry was filled to the brim with good builders and technicians that had never stopped to think about business.  Secondly, the way in which the construction industry viewed building structures was flawed and it has since come to acknowledge insufficient buildings as acceptable just because codes allow for construction that way.  The problem highlighted to me was that construction business and application needed a major overhaul. And so it was that together, with my skilled team, we focused on quality building methods, streamlined communication processes and inevitably Cornerstone Custom Construction, Inc. gained a track record of taking on that challenge and winning every time.

     So, at the end of this story, you may now see a little deeper into the heart of our company.  We are a solid group of good and genuine people who are dedicated to do the best at every project we are hired to complete.  Cornerstone was built by the daily contributions of many people and is strengthened by those who are dedicated to the heart and soul of our company.  We are both optimists and realists.  We are confident we are heading in the right direction and look forward to doing great things in business with you!

     One last thing . . . if you ever feel like we’re not listening to you or hearing you right, just let us know.  Our processes are built on solid ground, but they are not written in stone! Thank you so much for taking a little time to learn about us.



Kelly R. Hemp