While many companies across the nation and around the world were struggling to survive in 2020, one Space Coast business launched and successfully scaled far beyond what even the founders expected.
Freedom Outdoor Kitchens opened on the Space Coast in the early part of 2020 by John Harper and Dave Kello, best friends and business partners.
“Dave and I were first friends,” Harper said, “and I knew we shared common personal and business values that we could build into a company.” Having launched, at the beginning of the pandemic the two pivoted their sales and marketing strategy from in-person home shows to social media storytelling and cultivating referrals, which resulted in phenomenal month-over-month growth.
In the midst of what was a roller coaster year for many local companies, Freedom Outdoor Kitchens started by completing one outdoor kitchen in April, which led to five in May, ten in June and thirty-five by July.
At the same time, they moved out of Kello’s garage and into their own fabrication shop that now employs 12 people. It was a magical convergence that combined the passions of two passionate young entrepreneurs with experience in their field with market demand and knowledge about how to deliver a phenomenal customer experience.
“We were positioned for a season in our country where people were looking for ways to spend quality time with their family and friends, a trend I believe will extend far beyond Covid,” Kello said. “[People] wanted amenities that would enhance their lifestyle, as well as increasing the potential resale value of their home,” he added.
“What I love about this business,” Harper added, “is that it is our dream to turn other people’s dreams into a reality, right before their eyes. Their excitement and the pleasure they get out of sharing their new space with friends and family is a major part of our reward.”
Freedom Outdoor Kitchen is able to visit client homes to guide them to bringing their vision to life by providing 3-D renderings of their outdoor space reimagined, using Freedom’s graphic technology. Of course, creating a stunning visual is only the first step in the process. Their craftsmen and installers set an industry standard by exceeding expectations, while ensuring their kitchens are as safe as they are beautiful and user-friendly.
“We use the finest materials and brands to create the client’s vision, but it’s more than that,” said Harper. For example, the wrong types of materials used in construction such as wood can present a serious fire hazard. “We fabricate out of rust-free aircraft-grade aluminum and Triton backer board which is anti-microbial.” he said. Freedom’s modular design can accommodate almost any space with a dizzying selection of stone, granite or stucco textures and finishes to complete the custom look homeowners are looking for.
Both men have found a home in Brevard, where they want to grow their business, their families and the community. “We don’t build the cheapest product and even if we don’t build someone’s kitchen, we do want to help them find solutions that work for them. We want to bring quality products, quality know-how and a quality culture of positive people giving their maximum effort, to ensure every client has an exceptional experience,” Kello said.
Kello and Harper have done projects as far north as Atlanta and have plans to build a local manufacturing center where the products they build can be exported to neighboring counties and states.
“We [have] considered franchising, but decided instead to keep expanding the business and build our fabricating hub right here on the Space Coast. We are currently designing our systems and process to enable us to scale, almost indefinitely” Kello explained.
Another aspect of their growth strategy is aligning with upscale homebuilders and retailers to bring their expertise to contractors and vendors. It is a plan that is enjoying as much success as their efforts in homeowner acquisition.
“We didn’t set out to just be successful, we wanted to set and maintain a new standard of excellence in our fast-growing industry. Our goals are pretty audacious, but we find that even our customers and partners are attracted to our sense of enthusiasm and vision for what our business can become. I suppose that is partly because our vision is all about helping them realize the vision they have for their outdoor space,” Harper said.