Living Its Creed for Over a Decade

The KYA Group
Written by William Young

Specialized general contractor KYA Group operates out of Santa Ana, California and focuses on facility modernization through the lenses of project management, design, and maintenance. The company began operations in June 2013, when its founders saw a need in the marketplace resulting from hurdles in the public sector regarding facilities and maintenance.

Communications Manager Lynne Lees observes that the public sector is traditionally very slow and cumbersome and is usually very averse to change. KYA wants to help the public sector let go of tradition and embrace newer avenues that will lead to better projects, greater longevity, bigger return on investment, and do all of this more quickly to allow the client to do more.

This attitude is reflective of the principles that the business enacted when it began, with a focus on mutual trust and respect, personal and collective responsibility for action, technological proficiency, enhancing the community through action, and more. This, along with its mission to ‘add value consistently and passionately to all,’ has guided the group’s actions for ten years and counting.

Chief Executive Officer Tony Leyds stresses that KYA is not just a construction company, but more a specialized contractor and a multi-faceted business. The group most notably works in bringing facilities up to modern standards with a plan to ensure they can withstand future needs for decades to come, more so than a typical construction outfit.

“In some ways, we’re a modern construction company,” Leyds says, noting, however, “We’re much more specialized.” He feels the highlight of the past decade has been the personal growth of the company’s team members which, in turn, facilitates its meteoric growth. What started as a small business has grown to a medium-sized one due to the tremendous sacrifice of the team. As a result of market penetration, KYA has attracted higher-end quality products with varied applications, which give clients a higher return on investment and long-term value.

KYA has been consistently busy since its first year, with revenue eventually ballooning to around $150 million. The company has been in a huge growth curve since its inception and has yet to slow down; in fact, Lynne Lees projects that this growth will last for at least another five years. The challenge with growth is keeping up with it and making certain that existing team members are receiving the education and mentorship they need, as well as bringing in experienced team members and management to support the growth, keeping it in a good trajectory to maintain value-first service. The company continues to make a significant investment in education, especially business education so that KYA employees can be part of what the group looks to accomplish.

KYA looks to exceed the standards of its industry through its speed, product quality, and solutions-driven management. “Rather than trying to fit square pegs in round holes, we try to find the best solution for the job,” as Leyds puts it.

The company applies a speed-to-market model by helping to educate its market segment and the public works industry as to what tools are available for procurement to expedite the overall process. KYA employs a team of specialists dedicated to just these purposes and they can educate clients and teams.

Lees observes that in a public agency, organizations work more as a conglomerate where one must consider multiple departments such as purchasing departments, superintendents, facility directors, and maintenance. KYA confirms that all aspects are covered and brings everyone together in the face of roadblocks and potential misunderstandings. Although it provides many products and services with true value, it also wants to maintain its role as a true partner and the first call at any sign of difficulty.

Leyds is pleased that the industry receives a lot of funding from the federal government, especially for infrastructure in the public sector, a move that he sees as beneficial to the company, the industry, and the country. However, the current student population in North America is lower than normal, a challenge the public sector continues to attempt to address.

States like California are working hard to allow the school-going age to be younger to address this problem and are seeking facility modernization to go along with this, an area that affects KYA directly. The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic also increased the demand for quick solutions in the industry.

“If patience was lacking before COVID, it reached a fever pitch with people expecting results faster than in the past,” Leyds stresses. This is positive for growth overall, but also comes with intensive pressure. Lees adds that KYA faces similar challenges to the construction industry, such as availability, inflation, supply chain difficulties, and the cost of labor.

Constant improvement is fundamental to The KYA Group’s identity. “We’re a continual work in progress,” Leyds explains. “When we aren’t is the beginning of our demise.” Leyds says that KYA is talented but is not the best it can be yet. A renewed commitment to education is one way toward improvement via shared knowledge, and continuing to invest in current team members will lead to better results.

The group will be adding new products to its range and focusing on development in line with investment and infrastructure while keeping energy conservation in mind. Recently, KYA has begun collaborating with the pre-engineered buildings brand CUUBE™, which provides a fast way for its clients to build facilities that will last. The cost-effective, all-steel construction with on-site assembly is becoming more popular because of how it provides clients with a viable alternative when they need more space.

KYA wants to be part of the solution in any capacity and is more than happy to be the first point of contact and a resource leading to other possible solutions through its wide net of connections in manufacturing, product, general contracting, and service-providing spaces.

Above all, KYA will continue to be a resource to its clients, while never forgetting its roots. Leyds believes that creating a better place is a company-wide obligation, and he intends for the company to be a fully employee-owned business throughout 2023 which, in a way, completes the circle of how it began ten years ago and stays true to the values that brought it the success it enjoys today.



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