Marketplace: RM Koemans Construction builds name in town
As a 14-year-old, Ryan Koemans did not have any idea his summer job working construction would eventually lead him to his career.
Even years later, building homes in Park City, Koemans was not sure what he would be doing for his future.
Now, Koemans is a licensed general contractor and the owner of RM Koemans Construction. He specializes in remodels for residential and retail projects.
He arrived in Park City 15 years ago with his mind set on becoming a member of the U.S. Ski Team. He left his hometown of Florence, Montana, as a senior in high school and moved in with a friend in Park City.
When he wasn’t training, he picked up side jobs in town. He worked at a restaurant at night and, because of his background in construction, started framing homes during the day.
He looked forward to working hard and then being able to see the work he had done at the end of the day. But after four and a half years doing construction, he was laid off during the recession of 2008. Around the same time, he decided to hang up his skis and leave his dream of skiing for the U.S. behind. He held onto his restaurant gig and started working at a restaurant full time, ultimately becoming the general manager of one. But it was not work Koemans wanted to be doing for the rest of his life. He resigned, and started on a new life path.
Heeding the advice of a family member, Koemans signed up for classes at Salt Lake Community College and started studying architecture. He liked building homes, but his uncle told him he would not want to do manual labor his whole life. Architecture seemed like the next best option.
While in school, a friend asked Koemans what he would do with his life if money were not a factor, and Koemans said he would build homes.
He thought it would never become a reality, but a couple years into the architecture program, he realized he was trying to force himself into a position he did not want to be in. He did not enjoy sitting in front of a computer for a large part of the day. He wanted to be building houses again, not just designing them.
The day before he was set to complete his final semester for an architecture degree, he left the program and changed majors to construction management. Then, he got his handyman license and began studying for his general contractor license. He contacted contractors he used to work with and told them he was looking for a job.
“At that point, the phone just started ringing and it just took off,” he said. “I fell in love with it again, being out in the field, working with my hands.”
He was remodeling his own condo at the time, and he became so busy that he still has not been able to finish the project. That was two and a half years ago.
He earned his general contractor license last June and immediately began hiring a team, then picking up projects. He was ecstatic to be in control of a project, and to work on it from scratch.
“At the end of the day, I wasn’t satisfied with saying, ‘I painted that house’ or ‘I sided that house,’” he said. “That was probably the most gratifying reason for doing it is to look back and go, ‘I know where everything in that project is.’”
He renovated individual rooms and quickly progressed to larger projects. He remodeled a building on Main Street for the new business Found on Main.
That was one of his most rewarding projects to date, he said, because he had to work with a decades-old building that has been remodeled multiple times. It was a challenge, which he is discovering is pretty much unavoidable while remodeling old buildings.
“You can read all the books you want, but nothing ever goes as planned, nothing is ever perfect,” he said.
But even when there is extra work to do or delays in the schedule, Koemans said he tries to make the experience as positive as possible for his clients. He said he learned from his years in the restaurant industry how to handle stressful situations where things do not go as planned.
Now that he is a general contractor, he said working with clients from start to finish and forming relationships with them has become one of his favorite parts of the job. But what keeps him in the work is what always has — his love of seeing the parts come together to form a permanent structure he can be proud of.
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The Park City Chamber/Bureau on Tuesday honored Bob Wheaton, the longtime leader of Deer Valley Resort, with its annual Myles Rademan Spirit of Hospitality Award. Wheaton joins a long list of prominent Park City figures who have won the award.