Parker Lee, owner of Kitchen Tune-Up in Fresno, used to go door-to-door selling solar systems and equipment, but that quickly halted after the pandemic shuttered businesses and eliminated close contact. Contributed

published on September 2, 2021 - 2:39 PM
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Covid-19 represented a complete reshuffling of the workforce as we know it. But for some people, the pandemic allowed them to find their dream career. 

A young Fresno resident picked up a new skill during the pandemic and started a kitchen remodeling business, Kitchen Tune-Up.

Parker Lee, 25, owner of Kitchen Tune-Up in Fresno, used to go door-to-door selling solar systems and equipment, but that quickly halted after the pandemic shuttered businesses and eliminated close contact. Lee’s stepfather offered to bring him alongside his own contracting work, where Lee shadowed carpenters for about a year. 

A before and after photo illustrate a kitchen remodel project by Kitchen Tune-Up in Fresno.

 

 

Lee had previously spent his free time taking up carpentry as a hobby. It started with sanding down and repainting his kitchen table and developed into more serious projects. 

“It just gradually progressed from there,” Lee said.  

Lee’s father asked him for help remodeling his newly-purchased home. 

“I did that and I loved it,” he said. 

The project ignited his desire to change careers. Although it was challenging to make the shift during the pandemic, he was eager to do it, he said. 

“I wasn’t going to let the circumstances affect me. I kind of just put my head down and motored through it,” Lee said. 

Kitchen Tune-Up is a franchise that originated in South Dakota in the ‘80s. Lee was drawn to the company’s goal to serve the customer first and foremost. 

“There’s a lot of talented individuals that can really make your dream kitchen come to life, but a lot of companies lack that customer service, which is so valuable,” Lee said. 

“You have a remodel, your life is torn apart. It’s really uncomfortable, and so the more we can cater to the customer and have them really have a good experience and try to get in and out as fast as possible, I think the more successful we can be,” he added. 

Many people have requested to have their kitchens remodeled, especially if they have purchased a home in the last year. Some realtors who haven’t had luck selling homes have called Kitchen Tune-Up for remodel work, and the team has been able to transform the kitchen.

“It’s really great for Realtors to capitalize on that so they’re not waiting around for a remodel and then hoping the house will sell. We’re in and out in one to five days, and then they can sell the house pretty quickly after that,” Lee said.

Rising construction costs and delays have made it challenging, though. Lee orders cabinet doors from several vendors, but those vendors aren’t able to work at full capacity in the warehouses, which adds serious delays. But since Lee’s business started up at the beginning of 2021 when the delays and rising costs were in full swing, he hasn’t experienced change this year like veteran carpenters have. 

“Hopefully when things go back to normal it’ll be a nice pleasant surprise, because it’s all normal to me right now,” Lee said. 

He said that even though everyday is a learning curve since he’s new to the industry, finding this passion has come naturally to him. 

“It’s like breathing and walking,” Lee said. 


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