Go big or go home has been Kent Untermann’s mantra, and the entrepreneur’s list of business ventures epitomize this. They include: Pictures Plus frame manufacturer and retailer, Exotic Woodlines custom cabinet shop, California Closets and The Sliding Door Co. franchises, Design Studio and the fine art Diamond Head Gallery – all part of The Art Source corporation, which Untermann owns with his wife Lori. Their latest venture is the branding and retail sales of Island Sole footwear.
“Trying to create scale living on an island is challenging,” Untermann says. “So, we made a very conscious decision to diversify so we’d have representation in the three sectors that drive business in Hawaii: tourism, construction and military. While that strategy is great, now we have to execute well in all of the areas that we’ve ‘signed up’ for.
“More specifically, we want to become the state’s largest presence in closet organization systems and panel processing, while also growing our wood products division to support our strength as the largest picture framer in the islands,” he adds.
It was a desire to mass customize frames that drew them into woodworking. “Eventually, the exponential opportunities afforded by panel processing shifted us into another direction. It afforded us the chance to reinvent ourselves within the industry,” he says. “This exciting expansion was coupled with the ability, through technology, to process wood resources with a reduced ecological footprint.“
Credit for the success is also given to employees. “As entrepreneurs, we’re apt to overvalue our own ideas and influence from time to time. Over the years, I’ve learned the people in an organization are the key differentiators, especially as you seek to grow the business. Spending the time to hire the right people and find the right fit and alignment is absolutely key to long term success in any industry.”
Untermann adds, “By rewarding employees for great ideas and productivity, what is good for business becomes good for everyone. It makes employees accountable, eager to share in the successes of the entire organization. This approach takes a lot of work, but it’s well worth it in the end.”
He continues, “All of our success in this industry is the result of a forward-thinking, collaborative effort to grow our business and expand our core competencies along the way.”
Networking is part of the collaborative efforts. A member of Young Presidents Organization, Untermann says, “Building a network of peers and learning from their experiences is by far the single most helpful way to be a more successful business person and leader.”
In his free time, he enjoys hiking, surfing and spending time with family and friends. “What I’m most proud of is that through all the crazy things I’ve endeavored to do, my relationship with my wife and two kids has thrived and I’m in great health. I’m a risk-taker by nature, but I’ve worked hard to strike a balance between my career aspirations and my commitment to family.”
• Education: University of Hawaii, BAA in Marketing
• Number of years at the company: 28
•Number of years in the industry: 28
• Word or phrase that describes you? Optimistic
• Who is the one person you’ve tried to emulate in business and why? "I’d like to think we are all the culmination of the many positive influences and experiences in our lives, and work to emulate those qualities in ourselves."
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