Co-owners of K-Guard Kansas City “K-Guard Heartland”, Travis Burch and Carter Clond, serve a territory that spans from St. Louis to Manhattan, KS, and everything in between – with their primary market being Kansas City.
Travis and Carter were bitten by the entrepreneurial bug after working with a competitor in the same industry.
K-Guard, one of the best Kansas City gutter cover companies, solves problems for homeowners by eliminating the dangers of climbing a ladder for gutter maintenance, and solving drainage issues caused by gutters that don’t evacuate water properly.
K-Guard’s leaf-free gutters are complete systems, as opposed to a hoods, filters or screens offered by many competitors.
Blogger Local talked to Carter and discussed his path to entrepreneurship, what he has learned from owning a business, and what advice he’d like to offer to other small business owners.
The Perks of Small Business
For Clond, one of the biggest perks of running a small business is one that many entrepreneurs can relate to — owning your own business isn’t boring!
He isn’t a fan of the day-to-day monotony of a 9-to-5 job. Running his own business gives him the chance to learn new things, keep busy, and avoid growing bored with what he does.
“Some days you’re doing stuff on the sales side, and some days it’s on the installation side, and some days it’s in the office,” he says. “Other days involve working with insurance or advertising. There are just so many different avenues that challenge you.”
Running a small business is all about problem solving. Clond enjoys connecting with customers and educating them about the problems that K-Guard products solve.
Using the Internet to Drive Consumer Education
There is no doubt that the Internet has changed the way consumers buy products and services. In Clond’s mind, one of the most notable changes is how consumers are able to self-learn about products online, how they solve the specific problems they’re facing, and which brand or service provider can best meet their needs.
“We’ve found that a lot of people will call and say, ‘Hey. I’ve already read your reviews online. I’ve decided that you’re the company that I want to go with,’” he says.
“I think it really separates the top businesses from weaker players because the top guys are going to stand out. They’re going to have all sorts of reviews. You can read them. People are going to say great things. I think that people are now more educated about who they want to work with.”
Making the Leap
For many, taking the leap into small business ownership feels intimidating and risky. Clond hopes that more would-be entrepreneurs will not get caught up in the fear, but prepare themselves for the inevitable challenges by focusing on hard work and looking ahead to the future payoff.
“You’ve got to be prepared to put in a ton of work, especially in the very beginning,” he says. “I remember we walked away from our previous jobs and my income got cut by 75% of what I was making before, and working twice the hours.”
At the time, Clond and Burch knew they were making an investment in the future. Three years later, they are now seeing the hard work pay off. The business is more profitable and they’ve been able to delegate responsibility to focus their time “on” the business rather than “in” the business.
“I think people watch a show like Shark Tank and be like, ‘Oh my gosh. They did $10 million in sales and this guy’s rich. That must be so easy.’ It’s not. That person put a lot of time, a lot of effort. He spent a lot of time educating himself on how to grow his business. But the payoff is there, as long as you’re willing to put in the hard work.”
Travis Burch’s & Carter Clond’s Kansas City Favorites
Learn More About K-Guard Heartland
K-Guard Kansas City
14404 W 100th Street
Lenexa, KS 66215
Phone: (913) 828-3179
Read the Podcast Interview Transcript
Blogger Local: Welcome to the Small Business Superheroes Podcast. Today our featured guest is Carter from the company K-Guard. Welcome to the show, Carter.
Carter Clond: Thanks for having me.
Blogger Local: First, can you tell me about your company? What kinds of products or services do you offer?
Carter Clond: We are K-Guard Leaf-Free Gutter System. We have a maintenance-free gutter. It’s a product for people that have a lot of trees around their house. One chore that people often overlook is cleaning out the gutters, because that’s one of those things that oftentimes it’s out of sight, out of mind, until it rains and you notice a waterfall around the house. That’s when they realize that it’s time to clean out the gutters. This is a product that has a hood over it that works off the principles of liquid adhesion so that debris stays out and water curls into the gutter, and the homeowner never has to clean out their gutters again.
Blogger Local: Great. Could you provide me with a brief history of your journey as an entrepreneur?
Carter Clond: Yeah. Absolutely. I had just graduated from KU with a degree in marketing and a concentration in entrepreneurship, actually, and I wasn’t quite sure exactly what I wanted to do at the time. I was good friends with a buddy of mine who, at the time, was a poker dealer. I was talking to him and he was like, “Hey, are you ever going to get a job?” He was planning on leaving the job as a poker dealer to go work for a now-competitor called Leaf Guard Gutters. He was talking to me about the job and said it was a good opportunity. I decided that I would give it a shot. I never in a million years thought I was going to be in the gutter industry, but I decided to interview. I got the job. Me and him both started around the same time. I was about a month after him. We were there for a year-and-a-half.
We were happy with the job. Everything was going well until corporate down in Texas decided to make several different changes to their company. Me and Travis looked at each other and we said, “This is not good. This is starting to turn into a sinking ship.” Randomly, Travis was watching the Big 12 Tournament game and there was an ad for a product that was similar but not the same. He called me up and he was like, “Hey, man. You got to check out this product.” I was like, “Okay.”
We were a little bit confused because, like I said, it was similar but it was a little bit different, but it wasn’t in the Kansas City market. So we decided to order a sample, because we thought there had to be something wrong with it. We called, ordered a sample, tried to find something wrong with the product, and it passed all of our tests. And so we decided that we were going to bring it into the Kansas City market. K-Guard’s a national company and they have 46 locations nationwide, I believe. But it wasn’t in Kansas City, so we brought it here and started the business. In the beginning, it was just me and Travis. Over the course of three years we’ve grown to about 20 employees. It’s been quite a journey.
Blogger Local: Wow. That’s great. Can you tell me a little bit about why you love what you do?
Carter Clond: Absolutely. Every day is different. I guess you don’t really have the monotony of doing the same thing every single day. Some days you’re doing stuff on the sales side, and some days it’s on the installation side, and some days it’s in the office. Some days you’re working with insurance or working with advertising. There’s just so many different avenues that it challenges you. You get to do something different, and I guess it just challenges you and you’ve got to work with a customer and really bring a product that a lot of people need but they just don’t know about or understand much about. You’ve got to try to figure out how do I reach them? How do I educate them that they need it? And then, obviously, install it on the house.
Blogger Local: Awesome. Shifting topics a little bit, I’m curious about your involvement in the local community in Kansas City. Are you guys involved in any local charities or causes that you’re really passionate about?
Carter Clond: Yeah. We’ve done all sorts of donations for gift cards to charities, a lot of sporting groups. Travis has several kids, and they’re involved in softball. We’ve definitely done a lot of fundraisers for different softball teams. We did a charity for … there was a bowling tournament that was raising money for cancer, and we donated to that. We’ve done stuff for the Military and senior citizens. We’ve done a little bit of everything, I guess.
Blogger Local: How do you feel the Internet has changed the way you and your customers do business?
Carter Clond: I think people have become a lot more educated than they have in the past. A lot of people are learning about which companies they do and don’t want to work with, just because it’s so easy to read reviews online. We’ve found that a lot of people will call and say, “Hey. I’ve already read your reviews online. I’ve decided that you’re the company that I want to go with. I want to move forward.” I think it really separates the top businesses from the not so good businesses, I guess, because the top guys are going to stand out. They’re going to have all sorts of reviews. You can even read them. People are going to say great things. I just think that people are more educated on who they want to work with.
Blogger Local: I agree. What ways are you marketing to local businesses and to consumers in Kansas City?
Carter Clond: Sorry. Say that one more time.
Blogger Local: What ways are you marketing locally to either local businesses or to consumers here in Kansas City?
Carter Clond: How are we marketing? Is that what you said?
Blogger Local: Yes.
Carter Clond: Okay. We do a lot of stuff on TV, Google AdWords on the Internet. We did the radio for a little bit. We do magazines. Direct mail is really big for us. We send out postcards in the mail. We’ve done referral marketing groups. We’ve literally done a little bit of everything.
Blogger Local: It sounds like it. Do you have any advice that you would offer to would-be entrepreneurs?
Carter Clond: Don’t be scared, but you want to make sure that you have a plan and understand that it’s not going to go as you planned. You’ve got to be prepared to put in a ton of work, especially in the very beginning. I remember we had walked away from our previous job and my income got cut probably to 25% of what I was making before, and I was working twice the hours. That was a huge, huge deal for me, but it was an investment in the future. Now I’m doing better than I was and not having to put that many hours in. But don’t think that it’s going to be an easy task, because it’s not. I think a lot of people will see people on TV or Shark Tank and be like, “Oh my god. They did 10 million in sales and this guy’s rich. That must be so easy.” It’s not. That person put a lot of time, a lot of effort. He spent a lot of time educating himself on how to grow his business. But the payoff is there, as long as you’re willing to put in the hard work.
Blogger Local: I agree. We have a couple fun questions. What are your favorite things to do in Kansas City? Where do you like to eat, or what kind of activities do you like to get involved in?
Carter Clond: I’m always a fan of barbecue. Kansas City’s obviously known for barbecue, so barbecue, any place that serves tacos. We’re definitely a fan of … we’re interested in poker, not as much as we used to be, but it’s definitely something that we’re still interested in, watching the World Series. There’s people that we’ve played with or dealt cards to that travel in Vegas and play poker on the circuit and stuff like that, so we’re interested in that. Just traveling, spending time with the family. All that good stuff.
Blogger Local: I’m sure. What’s your favorite barbecue place here in Kansas City?
Carter Clond: You know, it depends on exactly what you get. But, overall, we like Slap’s and Joe’s. Those are two good ones. But, it kind of depends on what you’re looking for. But those are two go-tos for us.
Blogger Local: Yeah. Those are great. Before we wrap up, do you have any special offers, promotions, or new products or services you want to share with the audience?
Carter Clond: Absolutely. We’re doing 80% off labor right now, and we are getting to roll out a new advertisement for a ladder buyback program. We’re so confident that once we install K-Guard on the house that the homeowner is never going to have to climb their ladder again that we will actually buy the ladder back from them. That’s getting ready to roll out. Then, we’re also about to roll out a free premium color upgrade. We have 30 plus colors, so we can match a lot of houses to make sure that it continues to look good and adds curb appeal to your house.
Blogger Local: Thanks for sharing, and thanks for joining us and for your contributions to Kansas City and our local economy.
Carter Clond: No problem. Thanks for having me.
Blogger Local: Have a great day.
Carter Clond: You too. Buh-bye.
Blogger Local: Buh-bye.