Small Business

Former Cargill HR executive finds new business a colorful change

Ken Moldenhauer
Ken Moldenhauer

Ken Moldenhauer has gone from working for one of the biggest companies in the world to working for himself. And he’s fine with that, even if leaving Cargill wasn’t his decision.

“I had a good run, a good career,” said Moldenhauer, a former vice president for human relations for Cargill’s beef business. “I moved on and I’m doing what I do now.”

In May, Moldenhauer took over the CertaPro Painting franchise in Wichita. “I think it’ll be kind of fun to see what I can do with the business and grow it.”

Moldenhauer grew up in southeast Kansas, earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in ag education from Kansas State University and at one time thought he’d be a high school teacher. Instead, he went to work in human relations for Cargill. Before losing his job in a reorganization, he led a team of 300 HR professionals who worked with 18,000 employees at 20 locations.

Moldenhauer was a finalist for several similar jobs but didn’t want to move his family, which enjoys raising show cattle in the Valley Center area. He looked at other small business options before deciding to buy an existing CertaPro operation in Wichita. That allowed him to skip the franchise start-up process — although he has undergone more than 100 hours of training required by the company — and step into jobs already contracted for.

“We’re booked right now through the end of June or July,” he said. “We’re booked this week doing estimates. We’re continuing to book jobs.”

For now, Moldenhauer is a one-man operation, focusing on marketing, sales and customer relations, although he hopes to hire a part-time assistant soon. For the painting, he contracts with two crews that had been working the CertaPro franchise he acquired for more than five years.

“I’ve done my share of painting at home — I can do it — but believe me, that’s a job better left to a professional painting crew,” he said.

Founded in 1992, Pennsylvania-based CertaPro is the largest painting company in North America, with 350 franchises. The company offers interior and exterior painting for residential and commercial customers.

Moldenhauer said two things about the franchise appealed to him.

“It’s a scalable business – one that you can take and grow and build. And painting is a very highly fragmented business. If you’ve got half a percentage in a market, you’re huge.”

Moldenhauer hopes to eventually employ several office and sales staff and contract with several more painting crews.

He said he “got to do a lot of cool things” while working for Cargill but added that his new career offers excitement, too, comparing it to being part of a TV home improvement show.

“I get to go out and help people with their projects,” he said. “When you’ve got somebody doing a major remodel project and they decide to make some big changes on color, it can really have an impact on the house. That’s fun to be part of.”

Certapro Painters

Address: 3959 N. Woodlawn, Suite 3

Phone: 316-440-0161

Owner: Ken Moldenhauer