Carrie Rengers

Young construction company hires all employees of longtime Wichita construction firm

Ahead of its five-year anniversary this fall, Jaco General Contractor is growing in a big way by hiring all Ink Construction employees.

“It just felt right to bring a lot of the positives from both companies together and be better,” said Ink owner Wink Hartman II.

“This isn’t anything about an ego or having your name on the door,” he said. “It’s about having fun and being successful.”

Jaco, which has 26 employees currently, is not buying Ink or merging with the company. Jaco is hiring all Ink employees and will have 38 total by the time the deal is done.

Hartman will be Jaco’s chief business development officer and will be an owner in the company with Jaco CEO Joshua Kippenberger and president John Walker, who formerly was CFO.

The three would not disclose ownership percentages.

The companies have been talking seriously since November.

“We’ve explored different opportunities,” Walker said.

They looked at doing a joint venture on a project, which led to other conversations.

“It just seemed like a really good combination of abilities, and it allows us to all do what we’re really good at,” Walker said.

He said Hartman is good at prospecting for new business and putting together deals.

“He’s just a good construction guy,” Walker said.

Ink’s Robert Cadman is Jaco’s new business facilities director.

However, Kippenberger said first the two “probably have some work they’ve got to finish up” at Ink.

“Eventually the Ink Construction entity will wind down.”

Kippenberger said there’s room at Jaco’s headquarters at 420 S. Emporia for more employees.

Carrie Lindholm is the company’s new CFO.

Kippenberger and Walker, both of whom are former Key Construction employees, will share operation, administration and risk management.

“It’s never been about getting to a certain size,” Walker said.

Kippenberger said, “Our goal is to make money, and if we can grow and still make money, then we’re all for it.”

Walker said the company has been doing $40 million in revenue annually but that “we expect that to be more this year and going forward.”

“To this point, most of our work has come from repeat customers that Josh and I both know, and that’s kind of a pretty steady supply.”

Now, he said there’s more opportunity with someone who is focused solely on new business.

“Just because of that reason, we expect quite a bit of growth,” Walker said.

Jaco does a lot of airport work around the country along with quite a bit of hospitality and retail work.

Ink’s specialty is retail and restaurants, which also is from a lot of repeat customers.

The company has been in business for two decades, and Hartman said he “had to think long and hard” about making this change.

“It took a lot of meetings and a lot of talking.”

“I am excited about the next 15 to 20 years of working with these two guys and the opportunities that the three of us are going to have,” Hartman said.

Previously, Jaco has done a lot of its work outside the market.

“That’ll be one of the biggest changes,” Kippenberger said. “We’ll have a pretty expanded presence in the Wichita market.”

Kippenberger said Jaco is going to be able “to grow in a smart manner.”

“It is tough to grow in this industry right now. Labor is at a premium. It’s tough to find.”

Hartman agreed that “by combining our human capital, we are able to grow efficiently and not costly.”

Kippenberger said the three owners are better together.

“It gives each of the three of us the opportunity to do what we’re really, really good at and also bring some expanded capabilities to all of our respective clients. That’s what makes this deal so exciting for us.”