Chuck Haren from Haren Companies Talks Company History and More!

The HL Restoration Impacting Midwest Industries vlog series is where our very own Steve Tutt speaks with our industry partners and others about what they do, their passions, and the great things they are doing in the Midwest, all while having a little bit of fun! Check out the rest of our videos and subscribe to our YouTube channel!

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ST: Welcome back to HL Restoration’s Impacting Midwest Industries. Today we have Chuck Haren with Haren Companies. Welcome Chuck.

CH: Thanks, Steve. Good to be here

ST: How ya been man

CH: I’m good

ST: Well, good. I’m glad you get to come into the studio.

CH: Thank you for the invitation.

ST: My pleasure. Chuck, when did you get started with Haren Companies, and what do you do for them?

CH: Sure, so. I got started in 2004. I turned 18 and was able to get on the insurance. I did job side clean up and I worked down at Long Motors with Gary Lamb, a superintendent, who is still working with us. I mucked out footings. I did that for an entire summer.

ST: You got started with the good stuff, huh?

CH: Yea, labor. That’s right, yea! And then I went to school, and would work when I was on breaks from school.

ST: Now what do you currently do for them?

CH: So now I mostly meet people who need things built of renovated. I learn about what they need done and introduce them to our team.

ST: So you do what I do here, right?

CH: Yea, business development is the word that a lot of people use. Specifically, though, people want something built and I go meet with them and learn about what they want done and help them get it out of the ground or renovated or whatever they need.

ST: Now I know a little bit about Haren Companies because of course we are a sister company of you, right? But I want you to tell a little bit of history about Haren Companies. When did it start? To me, that is very impressive.

A Dive into the History of Haren Companies

CH: In 1932 my family was in the banking business and that, obviously in the early 30’s if you were in the banking business, the great depression happened and there weren’t very many jobs for my Great Grandfather to get into the family banking business. He started renovating, well renovating probably is not the right word. He started boarding up bank owned properties and got into the construction business. He grew that, and then got called in to serve during World War II, he met Hal Laughlin who was a business partner, until the 60’s. And that is where we got the name Haren Laughlin, right? That company is still around. My grandfather got involved as second generation from the 60s and 70s. My dad got involved in the 80s, and I am fourth generation.

ST: So, you’ve been around for a long time

CH: I am happy to get into any more detail on any of those.

ST: Whatever you want to share, it’s up to you. What are the different types of services that you guys provide?

CH: We are a full service, general contractor. We can go build a building out of the ground, and that’s what we’ve done for a long time. We can renovate spaces as well, we do that for people, too. We do insurance restoration, which you know a lot about with HL Restoration. We also have a commercial concrete company, True Plane Concrete, that we started experimenting with back in late 2018. We really got that going last year and now we’ve got True Plane Concrete.

ST: Right!

CH: They do commercial concrete work.

ST: Yea. Now, I don’t know the history. Like you said, it used to be Haren Laughlin Construction, but you have rebranded here recently. Is that correct? With the Haren Companies that has launched now, right? You have a lot of companies underneath that Haren Companies umbrella. Do you want to into that a little bit?

CH: Yea, I do. Like I mentioned, there’s the commercial construction which Haren Laughlin is still one of those firms. There’s Haren Contracting, also a commercial construction company, that we have.

ST: What do each one of those do?

CH: So, commercial construction. That would be building a building out of the ground or renovating for Haren Laughlin Construction and Haren Contracting. We have HL Restoration that is property damage restoration, then we have True Plane Concrete that does the commercial concrete. They are a sub that will also work for folks who need concrete replaced in their facility.

ST: Is there anything else that you do service wise?

CH: Yea, sure. Dialing into each one of those areas, you know, I think for a lot of folks the thing is that we really do for them is pre-construction. They have an idea of what they want built and we can help them figure out what that costs.

ST: Okay.

CH: We really help them figure out how to maximize their budget and make smart choices with the dollars that they have. We are really great at taking a napkin sketch to an actual building that you can walk into, live in or work in.

ST: That takes me to my next question because it is always interesting to hear someone’s opinion on how they separate themselves from others in your industry. Who is one of your biggest competitors and how are you different?

CH: You sent me this question, and I had to think about it because there is a lot of great general contractors in this town. It’s an awesome town to work in because the standards are so high. It’s probably like being a country music singer in Nashville or something because any band you go play with is darn good, right? I am proud to compete with the contractors in this town. We compete with a variety of different folks depending on what the job is.

ST: You being in business development, how do you separate yourself from them? If one of your clients were watching this video, and hopefully they are, how would you separate yourself from competition?

CH: They know us and what we are about.

ST: Yeah.

CH: I don’t know enough about our competition, other than they are highly skilled at what they do.

ST: Highly skilled, but?

CH: I don’t know the answer to that, to tell you the truth.

ST: Highly skilled, but not skilled enough to compete with you.

CH: No, they are skilled and we are skilled.

ST: I’m just giving you a hard time

CH: That is what makes it great. We must be great, too. Okay, so a couple of things. We are great at the pre-construction and the budgeting. We will work with you instead of working at you. We would much rather have fewer clients and have those be the best clients that we can really take care of than be huge. I would always rather be good than big. I would say your project, whether that’s your restaurant or if we are building 200 units of senior living, you can get the same treatment. From the president of the company to the project managers. I mean, we’re not so big that you can’t go into our office and meet everybody.

ST: Right.

CH: We are very highly skilled. We can take on large projects.

ST: Plus you’ve got the years of experience.

CH: We do, we’ve got a lot of folks that have worked with us for a long time. I am so fortunate to work with people who have been in the industry, for you know, 35 years. A lot of those folks have worked with us for you know 12, 13, 22 years. That’s pretty common that people stick with us. We are a relationship company for the people who work with us and the people who hire us. One other differentiator; we have a lot of carpenters and trades people. We can self-perform work which is great so we can come in and do small jobs. I always tell people, there is no smallest job. We can come in and send Haren guys to install your door or paint that wall.

ST: Right.

CH: We can also build your building out of the ground or renovate your historic building. We try and be a client for life. One more story from ancient history which I try and add in if I get the opportunity to talk about it, and I think it counts today because this i something that I really love about what I do is just developing that relationship with people and continuing to serve them. Hal Laughlin, who I mentioned was a business partner in the 50s and 60s, struck up a relationship with AVON products. You know, the AVON lady that would drive around and sell makeup.

ST: Like the pink Cadillac?

CH: Yea, they were headquartered in Grandview. That was where the world headquarters were. We built their world headquarters in Grandview in the 50’s. It was an awesome mid-century building.

ST: I’ll be darn.

CH: We did! I counted because we used to keep a record, like an old black box of note cards with jobs written down. We did over 70 projects at AVON products in 35 years.

ST: Wow

CH: It was everything from building their building to installing their parking bollards when they expanded their parking lot. We built their IBM room when they had a room for their computer.

ST: Yeah!

CH: We eventually, when they moved on, I do not really know the history of AVON products exactly, right? Whenever they did not need that building anymore, we mothballed it and tore it down for them. I try and tell that story because that is something that we try and live in every day with our clients. No matter what, we want to take care of you on this job and keeping working with you. Life is too short not to take care of people.

ST: I agree with you 100%. Your coverage area? How far out do you guys go outside of the Kansas City area?

CH: I would say we are a local company. I think 95% of our jobs are here in town. For some clients like Brookdale Senior Living, we will travel for. We just wrapped up a job in Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. We’ve done work out in Virginia and Texas. That’s just for people who like us.

ST: That’s because you have built up those relationships with you and you want to take care of them.

CH: That’s right!

ST: So there’s really not a coverage area for a relationship.

CH: Right. Again, we’re not so large of a company that we have a huge stable of superintendents that want to go out and travel. We might have one or two guys who would be okay getting out and being okay from their family for that long. So, we don’t travel too much.

ST: Alright, well! What are you going to dress up for on Halloween? Halloween is right around the corner; do you have a costume picked out?

CH: I was talking about that with my son this morning.

ST: Your son is five years old, right?

CH: Yea, he’s five years old, and he wants to be a ninja. He’s been watching Ninjago.

ST: Nice!

CH: I told him I wanted to be a turtle, just like an animal.

ST: Now, is he into the Ninja Turtles?

CH: Yea, he is into turtles. But I just want to be a regular ‘ol turtle.

ST: What is his favorite ones?

CH: Oh, I don’t even know the names.

ST: C’mon, Dad!

CH: I was into turtles, too. I would be guessing. Donatello? I know that’s one of them.

ST: Yea, that’s one of them! I don’t know if I could remember either, so I won’t hold that against you. What is the worst purchase you have ever made?

CH: Oh, man. I’m sure I’ve made a lot of them. Recently?

ST: Yeah!

CH: Maybe my car?

ST: Really?

CH: Yea, I bought a nice car, and I regret that. I would say that unless you have just tons of money, don’t buy a nice car.

ST: Right.

CH: It’s not even too nice. I mean that’s the dumbest purchase I’ve made.

ST: What kind of car is it? Is it because of the brand?

CH: No, no, no. It’s a Ford Explorer, but I just didn’t’ need that. After I got it, I didn’t know why I did that. I guess that’s the lesson you learn in your 30s. You don’t need that stuff.

ST: Going back to childhood, what is your most embarrassing childhood moment?

CH: Oh my gosh!

ST: You have to tell me, if you don’t, I will go ask Wells.

CH: He would probably be able to give you a few. Okay, so I tried out for a talent show.

ST: Is this in grade school or high school?

CH: Grade school. And I sang Tim McGraw.

ST: Nice pick!

CH: Please Don’t Take The Girl. I did not make it into the talent show, probably because I am a terrible singer. This is even embarrassing to remember. I had totally forgotten about that, but I felt pretty embarrassed after that.

ST: Tim McGraw, that’s a good pick by the way.

CH: It’s still a really good song!

ST: Give me your best accent.

CH: My best accent. Oh, my. You’re hearing it. Just like a midwestern rock climber dude. This is it.

ST: You know what’s funny, and I have to be honest with you. If people know your dad, Wells. You two sound exactly alike.

CH: I get that a lot!

ST: I wouldn’t be able to tell you guys apart.

CH: This is my best Wells Haren accent.

ST: There ya go. A Wells Haren accent. What is your favorite restaurant here in Kansas City?

CH: Regazza Food & Wine.

ST: You didn’t hesitate at all!

CH: I love Laura Norris, and we helped her build her restaurant on 43rd & Main. Awesome Italian food.

ST: I’m going to have to try it, I’ve never been there.

CH: Do it. You can get a pan of lasagna and take to a client, man.

ST: Oh, yea!

CH: Somebody watching this had better get Regazza from one of us!

ST: One of you clients out there, if you like that, let us know and I’ll bring you Regazza! That’s for sure. Chuck, thanks for coming into the studio, man. Is there anything else you want to add?

CH: Thanks, Steve. I feel fortunate to be here and I’m thankful to work for my family business. We appreciate everything that people have done for us.

ST: Well, folks, get ahold of Chuck if you need anything. Haren Companies is the name of the company. It’s on the screen now, all of his contact information. Feel free to reach out to him. Otherwise, we’ll see you soon. Don’t forget to hit the like/share/follow us and comment if you want. Until next time, we’ll talk to you soon.

If you would like to see more interviews from our Impacting Midwest Industries video series, then visit our YouTube channel! HL Restoration specializes in disaster recovery and property restoration. Learn more about us today!