Neil Kelly Company Celebrates 70 Years in Business

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Neil Kelly Company, the largest residential remodeling firm in the Pacific Northwest, looks to the future as it celebrates 70 years in business.

Tom Kelly, President

My legacy is to leave the company as strong as ever with its values in place and let the next generation of company leadership move forward.

In 1947, Neil Kelly started a remodeling company with a $100 investment and a commitment to quality, value and client satisfaction. During the next four decades, he built it into a nationally recognized business with a reputation for award-winning design, innovative practices, outstanding craftsmanship and community engagement.

Seventy years on, Neil Kelly Company is the third largest design-build remodeling firm in the U.S., according to Remodeling Magazine’s Top 550 ranking. With more than 200 employees and 5 locations in Oregon and Washington, and an offering that now includes handyman services, roofing, HVAC, solar energy and insurance restoration, the company completes more than 1,500 remodeling and home improvement projects each year. Though no longer a small business, the company remains family-owned and inspired by Neil’s vision and values, and his commitment clients, employees and community.

“My dad was basically a farm boy from Minnesota who came to the Northwest during the Depression to find work,” says Tom Kelly, president of the Neil Kelly Company. “He worked on the Grand Coulee Dam and eventually the Kaiser shipyards in Portland. After World War II he took a job selling for a home improvement company but didn’t feel comfortable with their integrity.”

Sensing an opportunity, Neil purchased the Northwest Weather Proofing Company for $100, and started his own remodeling firm. From the very start, he laid the foundation for the company’s reputation with an uncompromising commitment to honesty, quality workmanship and earned trust. “Integrity is built into the company,” says Design Consultant Karen Richmond. “When you offer a great quality at a fair price, when you do your job well and are always striving to improve on that job, there’s no way it can't be a win for the client, the designers and the company.”

As the company grew, Neil continued to innovate. He established Neil Kelly Cabinet Company in 1966, to offer clients cabinetry that met his exacting quality standards. In the 1970s, he pioneered the design-build remodeling process, and became one of the first certified kitchen designers in the nation. He supported his employees’ professional advancement as well, including the women in the company, during a time when construction was an industry staffed almost exclusively by men. Longtime Neil Kelly Design Consultant Martha Kerr became the first Certified Bath Designer in the country in 1975, and went on to become the first woman president of the National Kitchen & Bath Association.

“My father was someone who believed deeply in giving back to the industry as well as the community,” says Tom. “I inherited that philosophy to act civically, locally and within the industry. As a company, we are proud to have employees who have honored this philosophy to be local and national leaders.”

In 2014, Neil Kelly Company earned B Corp certification and was among the first group of businesses to adopt Oregon Benefit Company status. “Receiving B Corp certification was a way of formalizing and driving our values deeper,” says Julia Spence, VP of Human Resources. “Our values — quality craftsmanship, treating people well and doing right by our employees and customers — are timeless and classic.”

“We stand behind our work and are well known for our high level of corporate responsibility and commitment to the community,” says Tom. “My legacy is to leave the company as strong as ever with its values in place and let the next generation of company leadership move forward.”

Neil Kelly Company Milestones

1947 — Neil Kelly purchases Northwest Weather Proofing with a $100 investment. He ran the business out of the basement of the Northeast Portland home he shared with his wife, Arlene Kelly. Eventually they rented a storage garage across the street from their home.

1950s — The Company expands its business from working on foundations, footings and driveways, to becoming a full service, general remodeling company.

1960s — The Company moves out of its basement location and into a remodeled 1930s gas station at 735 North Alberta Street, and opens its own cabinet company.

1970s — The Company pioneers the design/build remodeling process, and promotes women to roles in sales, design, drafting and carpentry.

1975 — Neil becomes one of the first Certified Kitchen Designers in the United States, and encourages other Neil Kelly designers to seek professional certification. Longtime employee Martha Kerr becomes the first Certified Bath Designer in the country and went on to become the first woman president of the National Kitchen & Bath Association.

1979 — Tom succeeds his father Neil as president of Neil Kelly Company.

1980s — The recession impacts the remodeling business, but the company is tenacious and sticks to its core philosophy to do great work and stand behind it. The Company implements a team-based system for construction groups and develops a flat organizational hierarchy. During this time, Neil becomes the first president of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) and serves as chair of the Portland Development Commission.

1990s — Neil Kelly Company works with Natural Step in an effort to make an environmental and sustainable impact. During this time the cabinet company becomes one of the first to offer FSC Certified woods and formaldehyde-free cabinets. Neil Kelly introduces handyman services in 1995.

2000 — The Lake Oswego showroom is built as the first LEED certified business building west of the Mississippi and the fourth overall in the country. The Neil Kelly Company is awarded the National Better Business Bureau Torch Award for Business Ethics in a ceremony at the National Press Club in Washington D.C.

2004 — Neil Kelly opens its Eugene Design Center.

2006 — The Company builds the first LEED certified residence in the country.

2007 — The Company opens its home performance/energy efficiency/indoor air quality division.

2008 — Neil Kelly opens its Bend Design Center.

2010 — The Company introduces its industry-leading five-year warranty and acquires Mr. Sun Solar.

2011 — Neil Kelly acquires a Seattle remodeling firm and expands into Washington State.

2013 — Neil Kelly acquires Mr. Sun Solar, expanding its renewable energy offerings.

2014 — Neil Kelly Company becomes an Oregon Benefit Corporation and certified B Corp, furthering the company’s commitment to social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency.

Today — The Neil Kelly Company maintains its commitment to award-winning design, innovative practices, outstanding craftsmanship and community engagement.

About Neil Kelly Company

Neil Kelly Company, the largest residential design-build remodeling firm in the Northwest, helps homeowners to improve and maintain every aspect of their homes. Services include award-winning design-build remodeling, home improvement and handyman services, and solar energy systems.

Neil Kelly is proud to be a certified B Corp and aims to be an engaged and responsible corporate citizen. With five Pacific Northwest locations in Portland, Lake Oswego, Eugene, Bend and Seattle, Neil Kelly is renowned for its innovative design and remodeling services, quality craftsmanship and sustainable building practices. Homeowners are invited to visit Neil Kelly design centers or attend its monthly remodeling workshops. Visit


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