Once Gary Klebs settled on a plan to open his own sheet metal fabrication, heating and plumbing business more than 25 years ago, he scratched his head over what to call the new company.
So Gary sat down for a little discussion about the name with his family, which at the time included his then-young children.
Plenty of creative suggestions were tossed about–"Barbie Doll Mechanical," "Spiderman Sheet Metal" or "Northern Lights Heating."
Although Gary appreciated the thoughtful ideas, the family decided uponKlebs Mechanical, Inc. (KLEBS), something a little more understated–or so he figured.
"I thought we'd operate as a small company with me as the main person," Klebs said. "I never considered it would grow into what it's become today. Sometimes I think we should have called it something more generic, because it's not just about one person or one family.
"The company is about all the people who have contributed to making us successful."
KLEBS was founded in Gary's garage in 1986 and today operates out of a much-larger facility in South Anchorage.
KLEBS is a complete mechanical contractor, specializing in commercial and residential plumbing, sheet metal, and HVAC installation and service. The company has been a Lennox dealer since 1994. The talented and experienced professionals at KLEBS are able to take care of heating, ventilation, and plumbing needs for homes, offices, retail stores, warehouses, educational, medical and other specialty construction projects.
"We do everything from servicing residential homes and emergency repair to commercial-grade large HVAC and plumbing," Matt Klebs told US Builders Review magazine in 2012.
Starting small was the only place to start for Gary Klebs. After years working for a large plumbing and heating company, he was just one of many Alaskans forced to navigate through the economic downturn of the mid-1980s. The state fell on tough times and businesses laid off many employees in order to remain open.
Klebs figured he could make a go of it on his own if he kept overhead small. By doing so, he could be very competitive. With his experience and knowledge of the trade, Klebs laid a solid foundation for the company right up to when Alaska's economy rebounded near the end of the decade. Klebs enjoyed steady growth nearly every year since and today he is proud to have 70-plus team members working to keep Alaskans comfortable in their day-to-day lives.
"We laid a good groundwork, a good baseline," Gary said. "Where we go from here will pass to the coming generations.
"One of the nice things about that is that every different personality that comes along brings with them different ideas and thought processes."
Matt is proud to say he's on the same page with his Dad.
"The key is the foundation we've already created in so many different areas of the market," he said. "It's a kind of seamless package between our residential and commercial work. Growth isn't always necessary, but it could very well happen on its own if we build off what we've done so far."
As KLEBS has evolved into an industry leader in the Anchorage area, the company's relationship with First National Bank Alaska has only strengthened. The Klebs family has always been able to count on First National for whatever they've need to help the business thrive.
"When we get the big jobs, the bank has always been there to get us going," said Mary Klebs, the company's chief financial officer. "It all starts with (President and Chair) Dan Cuddy and his character. The people he hires always reflect him and that character.
"Everybody is always so helpful. It?s such a wonderful bank."
When he was about 10-years old, Matt Klebs would go to work with Gary and help out in the shop where he could. At such a young age, Matt's options were limited.
"Dad would have me sort nuts and bolts," Matt said. "But I always sort of suspected he purposely messed them into one big pile so I would have something to do."
Could the generational tradition continue?
Matt is a father to three children all under the age of 10.
"Yeah, I think my kids already want to work here as well," he said. "It will be interesting to see how it all plays out."
Learn more about KLEBS by visiting www.klebsheating.com.
This bi-monthly newsletter is sent to Alaska business owners, managers and community leaders.
The articles and opinions in this publication are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. We suggest you consult your attorney, accountant, financial or tax adviser with regard to your individual situation. Entire publication. For publication information, call (907) 777-3409.