A&K Construction shares a common commitment with Paducah Bank to build a community of beautiful design, functional performance, and cultural compassion.
You can tell a lot about a culture by the buildings in which people live, work, and play. That very architectural diversity is borne out in designs rendered into reality by builders like A&K Construction. With buildings such as the Paducah Bank branch at Strawberry Hill, St. Thomas More Catholic Church, the Challenger Learning Center, and the new Armed Forces Readiness Center, A&K gives Paducah’s architectural environment a vibrant life that is both unique and functional. • For Ken Hunt, founder of A&K Construction, the business of building seemed to be in his blood.
“I loved tinkering with stuff and building things as a kid. I used to go to construction sites in order to get scraps to build things. I really liked Lincoln Logs and erector sets.”
After graduation from St. Mary High School, Ken attended Murray State and enrolled in the Construction Management program. “I couldn’t have asked for a better education in this field. My degree was 60% engineering and 40% business. I not only learned construction, but it has helped me tremendously to have that business focus. Both bodies of knowledge are extremely important to a construction company.”
After college, Ken went to work for Industrial Contractors in Evansville. It wasn’t long, however, before the desire to move closer to home led him back to Paducah.
“I turned in my resignation; then one of the owners approached me about partnering with him in a new venture. He wanted to start in Nashville instead of Paducah. It was pretty tough going down there in the late 80s, but I took the opportunity, and we started A&K. Our jobs were spread out along the I-24 corridor, and I kept inching my way toward Paducah. Finally, I was up this way more than in Nashville, so in May of ’91, we officially moved A&K here.”
By 1995, A&K’s business had tripled, and the company built a headquarters on Charter Oak Drive. After a 2,500% increase in business from their first year in 1991, A&K found themselves once again in need of more space. In 2007, A&K took over permanent occupation of a spec building they had built in the Information Age Park. Expansion took the company to jobs in Illinois, Tennessee, Lexington, and Murray. A&K’s construction of the new Science Building at Murray State University features a beautiful clock tower which has become a campus icon.
A&K also had to face the organizational challenges of rapid growth. Ken quickly enlisted the help of Mike Zimmerman to organize and create the necessary infrastructure for the future. “I started in ’97 as a consultant,” says Mike. “At that time, A&K had no IT or HR, so right off the bat we had to get those things plugged in.” Mike, who has worked on organizational structures from Atlanta to New York, knew that the future growth of A&K was dependent upon the underpinnings of an organization that could bear the load of tremendous expansion. “An organization that grows rapidly can quickly become disorganized and even fail because the support for growth is not there. It’s been great to be at A&K during these times and see the growth and know that it is on solid ground.”
Ken attributes much of A&K’s success to their unique approach to construction. “We design and build. By doing both, we create a lot of value because we think about how a design will be executed and how it fits into our clients’ budgets.
“It has been great for me to get back to Paducah and see A&K grow like it has. I attribute that success to the people we have here. We average 100+ employees, and they are the ones who deserve credit for A&K’s accomplishments. And Paducah Bank is certainly a huge part of our success as well. All I have to do is pick up a phone and call. We’ve always enjoyed working with them, both as a customer and a client.”
Paducah Bank and A&K have more in common than just checking accounts and deposits. “I know Ken doesn’t like to toot his own horn when it comes to doing things like building projects for homeless families at River City Mission or working with the Paducah Cooperative Ministry,” adds Mike Zimmerman. “When A&K took on the Sunrise Golf Fundraiser for Sunrise Children’s Homes, Paducah Bank was right there alongside us as a sponsor. We raised $40,000 the first time out, and now it has become an annual thing. That’s when you know the genuineness of Paducah Bank. They aren’t just a logo or faceless corporation. You see them out there helping build a community. You see Wally, Tom, Alan, Joe, and others with their sleeves rolled up. We are their customers, and they are our clients; but beyond that, they are our friends and partners in building a prosperous and caring community.”