Ken Thieneman Builder built and sold its first home in 1988, a small brick ranch with a basement that sold for $69,900. By the end of 2006, Business First listed Ken Thieneman as the 8th largest builder in the Louisville Metro area having completed 85 homes that year totaling over 17 million dollars.
“We are proud of our success and our position in the home-building community. But we stand atop this small hill of success knowing that the groundwork for our accomplishment was laid long before 1988,” said Ken.
A Brief History
In the early 1950’s Ken’s father, Ray Thieneman, realized that his small farm in Pleasure Ridge Park, now lovingly referred to by many as “P.R.P,” was never going to be enough to support the dozen children he and Ken’s mom, Jean, planned to have. So right then and there, Ray’s plow became a bull dozer as he created a road on the edge of the farm and started building houses from the ground up. It wasn’t long before Ray’s home building completely took over the farming, and the older of the soon-to-be dozen kids stayed busy cleaning up scrap lumber and broken brick instead of picking beans and pulling radishes. Ken’s mom’s role was also changing: Jean was going from milking cows and changing diapers to keeping the company books and changing more diapers.
Ken was the fourth oldest of the 12 children but learned quickly that building houses, like farming, was very hard work. Ken vowed he would find another way to make a living and decided to join the United States Air Force in 1972. Somehow, 10 years in the military and a Bachelor’s of Science Degree from the Air Force Academy just weren’t enough. Nothing seemed to stifle that somewhat haunting yet satisfying work ethic that had been instilled in Ken by his farmer-turned-builder father.
With Time, Comes Change
By 1985, Ken was back home selling the real estate his dad was creating and slowly but surely, finding his path back to building. Ken has often said, “It is something that just must be in my blood.”
Although Ken had grown up immersed in the day-to-day grind of construction and was a superintendent for his father by the young age of just 17, he knew nothing about the business end of being involved in new construction. Ken had 8 years to figure out some of the main business aspects of it all before his father passed away in 1993. From there he worked with his brother Joey, who had his own business as well, until he passed away in 2001.
Words of Wisdom
One of the most important pieces of knowledge that both Ken’s father and brother stressed to him was that if you wanted to be a quality builder, you had to hire quality subcontractors. Ken has always done just that and actually still uses some of the same contractors who worked alongside his father many years ago. Ken has always believed that if you hire good people, pay your bills on time, treat people fairly, and be true to your word, your work and your heart will shine.
“It’s really not that hard to be a good builder,” says Ken. “You just start out picking beans, then you pick up bricks, then you pick quality people to work for you. Success then takes care of itself.”