MITCH Kidd has built up quite a reputation in New York after attracting celebrities and high-end clients to his construction business.
Mr Kidd, the son of Orange councillor Reg Kidd, arrived in the United States in 2009 to try his luck in the construction game after completing a degree in construction management at the University of New South Wales.
“The timing wasn’t great because of the GFC (global financial crisis),” he said.
Initially he made a name for himself in Aspen Colorado where he lived, but the Big Apple called.
He was keen to make an impression and it wasn’t long before he was being referred by satisfied clients who now include A-listers such as Grammy Award-winning singer Alicia Keys and actor James Franco. Mr Kidd’s firm Wellbuilt was also contracted to renovate the 29th floor of the prestigious Ritz Carlton hotel.
“This type of work in New York is word of mouth ... no-one just gives you a cold call,” Mr Kidd said.
Your reputation, he says, is everything.
Leaving Orange yesterday and flying back into freezing conditions not seen in the United States for decades, Mr Kidd said it was straight back to work with his business partner Scott Lumby.
“Unlike other places, building in New York doesn’t slow down over winter - we are always quite busy,” he said.
“If it’s an outdoor contract we just put up a huge marquee and keep working, although with this recent weather it will be interesting to see when I get back.”
Mr Kidd has had to adjust to the cultural attitudes towards working hours and the demands of clients, particularly in apartment blocks, for minimal interruptions to their lives and their adjacent tenants.
“In New York you can’t really start until 9.30am and then we have to be done by 4.30pm, so it is very intense,” he said.
“We have such a short window to get the work done, because residents who live in the high-end apartments we work on are very particular.”
It’s a long day for Mr Kidd who starts work at about 5.30am - hours before the construction teams get to their work sites in New York, Boston and New Jersey. He also liaises with satellite offices set up in Boston and Connecticut.
Mr Kidd says he employs Australians whenever he can among a team of up to 60 workers, but they have to be the right people with a strong work ethic.
“We have burned through a fair few staff to get just the right team - and it’s working,” he said.
Working in an industry where trends are everything to his clients, Mr Kidd says the latest involves a fusion style where cornices and mouldings blend with cutting-edge technology.
“But technology is really the big thing at the moment in apartments,” he said.
“Clients want to be able to control their apartment from their smartphone.”
Mr Kidd says working with clients where budgets are no barrier opens up a raft of possibilities for his company.
Mr Kidd completed his degree after schooling at Orange Public School and Orange High School. He was helped along in his career through his success in state and national schoolboy rugby with a scholarship opportunity and a network of mentors.