New England Design Hall of Fame 2016: Kenneth Vona ConstructionText by Lisa H. Speidel
We present Kenneth Vona Construction 2016 inductees into the New England Design Hall of Fame.
Ken Vona credits the school of hard knocks for his start in business. “I went to college for a couple of weeks, but I didn’t like it,” he says. He loved woodworking, trained with a few guys in the trade, and learned at the elbow of his dad, a plumbing contractor.
Construction came naturally to Vona. “I’m severely dyslexic; I see the world through a different lens,” he says. “Understanding the world in 3-D is second nature.”
When he struck out on his own, his dad gave him one piece of advice: “Whatever you do, do it well and don’t chase the money.”
Thirty-five years later, with seventy employees and a renowned general contracting and property management company, Vona says doing the right thing by his work, his clients, and his staff is the key to his success.
The Waltham, Massachusetts-based firm specializes in high-end new builds and renovations, with a portfolio that runs the gamut from coastal Shingle-style to classic Georgian brick to ultra-modern. Often, the scale is grand. A twenty-five-room estate the firm built in Brookline, Massachusetts, has a bowling alley, a theater, two four-car garages, caretaker’s quarters, and a chef’s kitchen big enough to staff twenty for large parties. And the devil is in the details. “In a 10,000-square-foot house, there could easily be ten million parts and pieces that all have to come together in twelve to fourteen months,” he says. “It’s mind-boggling.”
Vona takes a personalized approach. He thinks of the people who will inhabit these beautiful homes. “We take a two-dimensional plan, bring it out of the ground, and create a living, breathing home where a family is going to make memories,” he says. “Most of our houses are dream homes. It’s amazing.”
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