At a Glance
General-contracting services for veterans facilities
When the VA Medical Center in Vancouver, Washington, opened the doors to its new outpatient clinic in late 2010, the 20,000-square-foot building stood out immediately. With its refined brick, steel, and metal architectural elements and outstanding amenities—including a prosthetics lab, an eye clinic, and a dental clinic—the two-story structure is a sight to behold, not only for community residents but also for the veterans who will benefit from the facility’s services. And no one is more proud of the finished product than Kev Kutina, owner and president of Kevcon, Inc.
As the founder of the firm that provided the general-contracting services for the project, commissioned by the US Department of Veterans Affairs, Kutina says the outpatient clinic is exactly the type of work he had in mind when he started his business. “More than half of the people in our company are veterans, and as veterans we look out for other veterans,” he says.
Kutina himself is retired from the Marine Corps with 25 years in service, including a one-year tour during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, when he was recalled to active-duty status. A former aerospace engineer, he actually founded Kevcon in 1988, one year before resigning his active-duty commission. In 1989 he worked for Rockwell International on an Air Force weapon platform while managing side projects through his own firm. When the weapon-platform project was canceled, he honed his general-contracting skills working for several federal contractors over the next few years. Ultimately, having mastered such a specialized building-industry sector, he decided to put his vast experience with federal and government projects to good use by turning Kevcon into a full-time pursuit. “When you’re working on weapons platforms for the government, it’s almost identical to building for the government,” Kutina says. “People think there’s a lot of red tape, but there really isn’t. There are a lot of rules and regulations to follow, and if you’re good at that, you can be successful.”
Top 5 Clinical Needs of VA Medical Facilities
1. Prosthetics labs or clinics help coordinate the selection, purchase, or repair of prosthetic appliances.
2. Dental clinics provide exceptional services while adhering to strict standards for appropriate infection control.
3. Eye clinics offer regular exams and specialized care.
4. Neurology clinics provide a range of CNS and cognition care for veterans of all ages.
5. Physical-training facilities specialize in customized therapy for veterans, many of them with lasting physical injuries.
Undoubtedly, Kutina has found great success in his chosen niche, offering construction and engineering services, construction management, design-build services and much more—all while making a name for his service-disabled, veteran-owned small business (SDVOSB) with a wide range of federal-, state-, and city-government projects, including VA medical centers, national veterans cemeteries, community parks, secondary-school buildings, and learning-resource centers, among many other facilities.
The key to his success, Kutina says, is the way he and his 30-member staff approach their work. “We operate like a large business even though we’re small,” he says. “Your typical small construction firm starts off as a trade contractor and evolves into a general contractor. We started as a general contractor. All of our project managers have degrees in either engineering or construction management, so our approach to project control is purely from a management-contract standpoint.” By taking that broader approach, the Kevcon team can focus on the seamless functioning of the numerous proven systems it has in place—from its green-building practices to its highly effective Think, Act, Be SAFE program—and ensure that projects are completed on time and on budget. This strategy has allowed the firm to grow exponentially each year, taking on larger and more complex projects as it works toward becoming a $100 million company in the near future.
An excellent example of Kevcon’s efficacy is the $5.7 million outpatient clinic it worked on in Vancouver. A major undertaking for the company, the project was led by former Navy SEAL James Storer (project manager) and retired Air Force veteran and former reservist Matt Rocha (project superintendent). While the Kevcon team faced challenges, including poor weather throughout construction, it still completed the clinic six months early. “When it comes to challenges, we have plans in place for how to solve issues, but we also know how to adjust on the fly to deal with individual situations,” Storer says. “We have to be willing to be flexible.” And he adds that Kevcon’s attention to detail and unwavering emphasis on teamwork—which can be found in every project the company manages—allowed the Vancouver project to move forward more smoothly from beginning to end.
“The project was a joint effort,” Rocha says. “We performed as a team, from the owner of the project to the subcontractors.” By keeping the lines of communication open throughout the project, he adds, Kevcon was able to deliver a finished product that will not only be comfortable and welcoming for the veterans who walk in the door but will also reflect the high-quality work that has become synonymous with Kevcon, Inc. “Through our company, we’re trying to build a legacy,” Kutina says, “and we have a good team here that understands that.” ABQ