Turning bling to Ka-Ching: award-winning horse barns comes down to details

– By Sharon Thatcher –

With a name like Kentuckiana Building & Development LLC, it’s no surprise that owner Tim Noble knows a thing or two about horse barns. Located in the heart of thoroughbred country, about 50 percent of his business is building equine facilities. And with a background in trim carpentry, he adds the kind of bling that turns buildings into award-winning barns, a tactic that has set his business on a profitable path. In 2012, Kentuckiana won both first and second place honors in the NFBA’s annual Building of the Year competition.

Noble“To achieve award winning buildings the biggest thing is the product,” Noble explains, adding that his chosen alliance is with Wick Buildings. “I’m not trying to be biased by any stretch of the imagination, because we could have built anything we wanted from any manufacturer, but between the product and customer service, it’s just a good combination. It’s worked very well for us.”  

It’s a great place to start, but it’s only a start for Noble, who then takes it to the next level. “We use a Wick stall, but once I get the stall here I do my own thing, we put our own spin on it,” he says.

CS-Noble-4[3]The barn that received first place in the BOY competition featured a large custom office area with custom trim work and custom concrete design. “We do a lot of custom concrete work, a lot of acid stain, stamped stone type work, things that a lot of people don’t have. We’ve have the ability to do that and it adds a huge touch to the project,” Noble says.

Another special feature is split-siders with glass at the main entrance, “which is a really nice touch when it comes to the horse world,” he adds.

Noble honed his skills during the good years of the building industry when money was flowing more freely and home buyers were lined up to get the biggest and best homes.  “I use to trim a lot of big custom houses. I use to do about two houses a week. It kept us very busy and kept the bills paid,” he says, adding: “then the housing industry took a bath.”

At that point he expanded his business into other areas besides residential. At the same time, he became a Wick dealer. “I took four of my six guys and myself and invested a week’s worth of payroll, hotel and food and met a Wick factory crew in Ohio and I built the building for free because I swore I wanted to see it before I put my name on it,” Noble explains. “And I’ve had very good success with the product and the horse people love it.”

CS-Noble-interior[1]Noble must be doing something right. Awards aside, he has a flourishing business. His second place BOY winner is located in a new horse community that will feature all Kentuckiana horse barns.

“This piece of property is owned by the guy that owns the second largest thoroughbred farm in the world and he turned this into an 1,100 acre community. It’s going to have 160 barns in it, and we’re the company that’s going to build the barns,” he describes.

“I have another one coming up this fall. This one has stone all over it, glass all over it. It will be a very pretty project. The owner just bought 18 acres, and they’re building a big 7,000 square foot house and we’re building the barn to match the house.”

Although many of his clients have the disposable income to afford anything they might want in a horse barn, many of his clients do not, but that doesn’t mean Noble can’t give every customer some bling.  

“We manufacture specific parts that make our stalls the Cadillac of the industry without people having to go and spend thousands and thousands of dollars for these big fancy stalls,” he says. “The thing is, not everybody can afford to spend $300,000 on a barn. We kind of take the building to that next level while keeping the cost down.”

CS-Noble-interior2One place that typically gets special attention in a Kentuckiana horse barn is the tack room. “With me having a trim carpentry background, we use a lot of different materials on the inside. I just did one where there’s all pieced wood, trimmed on a 45 degree angle from the ceiling. Pretty stuff you just wouldn’t expect to see in a barn.”

Add some shiny stainless steel automatic waterers and the wow factor continues to build.

Aside from frills and bling, Noble also prides himself on his customer service. 

“If we tell people we’re going to do it, we do it. We try to meet our customers’ expectations completely.”

Of course, not all customers know ahead of construction what their expectations really are, and that can prove challenging to a builder.

“All horse people are different. They all have a different mentality of what their horses need,” he says. “Some people come to us with generally an idea of what they want, but a lot of people don’t know what they want. They’ll ask: ‘well, what’s everybody else doing?’ So you kind of guide them along. You show them the options available out there and you try to meet their budget.”

With 12 years of owning his own business behind him, he can provide the guidance they need.  “You develop different scenarios of different options, whether it’s matted stalls or special draining in the stalls or stall types. You just give them different options.”

Some potential customers are lost because they aren’t realistic about what they want versus what their budgets will allow. “Sometimes they don’t realize what things cost, so a lot of times you’ll discover they’re either not in the same ball park, or they’re on the right track.”

When they are on the right track, it’s a pleasure for Noble and his crew to build a horse barn the owner truly can enjoy.

Noble likes to stay in contact with his customers to make sure his structures continue to function well. “I don’t think I’ve got one person that we’ve built a building for that we don’t have a phone number for,” he says.

So whether it’s bling or customer service, it all comes down to details that help to grow Noble’s business and his bottom line.

“I have people from other competitor’s buildings come into one of our buildings and say, ‘Wow, I wish you had built our building,’” he says. “So you have to give customers that kind of wow factor and that kind of experience.” FBN

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