When Mark Lamanno talks about how he’s built a successful company, he says without hesitation, “It’s about the people.”
In fact, some people very close to him inspired him to take the leap to start his electrical contracting company, KASA Electric, in 2007.
“My inspiration to strike out on my own came from my family. We’d just had our fourth daughter, and I wanted to provide the best life I could for them. I felt starting a company would be the best opportunity to achieve that,” Lamanno said.
It was a family affair from the beginning. When the company launched, Lamanno’s wife worked part-time in the office. Even the name of the 10-year-old Grain Valley company reflects the family commitment. The letters in KASA represent the first initial of each of his four daughter’s names: Katherine, Angela, Sofia and Anna.
A Tight-Knit Team
Lamanno and the two electricians who made the leap with him quickly landed a large job. “We were off and running, enjoying a good first two years,” he said.
But then the recession hit, and “it was scary times. We were a young company, but we muddled through,” Lamanno said.
One of the reasons KASA persevered through the downturn was Lamanno’s ability to reach out to a long-time friend and project manager, Ernie Cota, who bought into the company as a partner. “We kind of locked arms and fought through the hard times. I’m glad we did, because the last three to four years have been fantastic,” he said.
KASA Electric specializes in commercial and industrial work, and they also have a fully-staffed service department for 24-hour emergency calls.
“Anything that has to do with electrical, we can handle,” Lammano said.
As the company has grown, Lamanno continues to look for the same “good people” that served the company well in the early days. He looks for good character, first and foremost. “We can always teach the tools of the trade,” he said. “We ask the right questions that help us understand the people we interview, and we have a good understanding of what we really want out of people. That’s what brings those people to us.”
Banking on Trust
Lamanno explains that finding good people isn’t just about his staff. It also extends to customers. “We try to align ourselves with customers who are partnership-driven as well. Things just seem to run better when there’s trust,” he said. “We pride ourselves on the Top 10 people we’ve been doing business with for a long time.”
The company specializes in nursing and assisted living facilities, but has worked on other high-profile projects such as the 170-unit apartment project at 51st and Oak and industrial projects related to the Intermodal in Gardner, Kansas.
The company has sustained steady 20 percent growth year after year, a rate that Lamanno says is manageable.
Lamanno also credits the company’s internal processes—and the staff’s ability to carry them out consistently—with establishing
and keeping good customer relationships.
“We have a standard we uphold to keep consistency. I think people like knowing that if we do a job, it’s going to have the same look and feel as we did on the same job last year,” he said.
A Bank as Partner
Lamanno says the five-year relationship he has with Equity Bank has been instrumental in the company’s growth.
“They were looking for some younger businesses and were immediately receptive to what we were looking for. And we were interested in what they were offering,” Lamanno said.
He noted that his representative at Equity Bank has been a true partner: “Not only do we have business together, we actually go out and share a baseball game together sometimes.”
Lamanno expects to see continued growth, and he knows Equity Bank will be a strong partner as they do.
“Having that backing as we grow, as our need for cash or capital grows, is important,” he said.
Share Your Napkin Story
Some of the most amazing business stories started as an idea scribbled on a napkin.
Mark Parman, Kansas City Market President of Equity Bank, invites you to share your Napkin Story. “We not only want to hear your origin story, we can help you continue to write the rest of your company’s story,” he said.
Equity Bank is a full-service community bank with offices in Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas. Our group of bankers are experienced with businesses from small to large. We take the time to listen to your story and help you design the services that will benefit you and your business.