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Conversations with the Inspiring Karla E Mahuchy

Today we’d like to introduce you to Karla E Mahuchy.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Circa 2000, I was in the process of searching for a position as an Industrial Engineer, as my background is specialization in quality control and manufacturing operations. At the same time, a friend of mine was working as a contractor and he was having a hard time finding good painters. So, that summer, while I was submitting applications and having interviews, I decided that I will spend my spare time painting while I was trying to find my dream job as an Engineer.

Soon, I had my first client who wanted to have a small bathroom painted at her house. I hired one of my friends who was on a summer break from her studies at Boston University and started the job. Once we completed the job, the client was so happy with the result that she hired me to paint her living room and a bedroom as well! Not only I ended up helping her with the color selection, but I also assisted her in choosing the window treatments, lamps, and decorations! The lady loved her new design so much that she recommended me to her friends and family. Soon, I started to receive so much work that is becoming difficult for me to handle all projects. By that time, my friend went back to school, so I was working by myself. That fall, I hired a few new employees and my great business adventure began!

In the beginning, I only worked in Charlestown, but as the business grew we moved to other towns like Cambridge, Arlington, Brookline, Newton, Winchester, etc. I continued doing the interior painting but soon, we started performing some exterior work as well. Some clients hired us to do renovations in their kitchen and bathrooms. I LOVED THE PROCESS! It was so much fun and I was so happy to perform those jobs that engineering stopped being my dream job… becoming a contractor was my new goal, so I took the necessary tests and got all required MA licenses and certifications to perform that kind of work.

As time passed and I continued working, I met other contractors and also worked on projects that allowed me to learn about all aspects of construction from frame to finish, including foundation work, framing, electrical, plumbing, carpentry, roofing, cabinetry, fixtures, lighting, tile, flooring etc. For almost 20 years I had and continue having great clients, many of which represented a new learning opportunity and challenging experience.

With all the ups and downs of my business, those challenges have provided me with the knowledge and experience I have today. I’m so thankful to all the people that gave me a chance to work on their projects.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I would be severely exaggerating if I said it was a smooth ride all along…the process was not exactly easy in regards to all aspects of the business, especially in the early stages. I had to learn how to administrate the business and employees; I also had to manage the projects myself. As the majority of contractors are male sometimes it is hard for some clients to see a female working as a contractor. On multiple occasions, clients were very surprised to learn that I was the contractor. Also, many employees were surprised to be hired by a female boss in a construction industry.

My advice to other women starting their journey would be to not give up, as you face various obstacles (and sometimes many of them) on the way to your goal. Chances are that you will also find opportunities when you are dealing with those obstacles; all you need to do is to identify those opportunities and give your best!

What should we know about Coelho Contracting, Urban Green? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
We specialize in total renovations, including kitchens and bathrooms, as well as roofing, painting, and exterior and interior carpentry work. I’m very happy with all the services we provide and also extremely proud of our work portfolio over the years.

Working on kitchen renovations has a special meaning to me, as many families gather at the kitchen to share a meal and socialize; I also know how important is for many people including myself to have a great and beautiful kitchen! A new kitchen also inspires to make amazing meals for your loved ones. This has always been at the back of my mind, pretty much during every project we had, and that is what sets our work apart from others: the human aspect, attention to detail, craftsmanship of our projects, as well as the focus on making our clients happy at the end of the day.

Do you have any advice for finding a mentor or networking in general? What has worked well for you?
I have never looked for a mentor; I think to do the best you can lead you to meet people that will teach you. Also, I didn’t realize that I had mentors until years after and I am very lucky and thankful to those mentor figures I happened to meet on my journey.

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Image Credit:

Urban Green Inc.

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