By: Kayla Kopke
My father, David Kopke, grew up in a family of entrepreneurs and home service specialists. My great-grandfather, Michael Kopke, started his own Furnace Repair Company and my grandfather, Robert Kopke, owned and operated Kopke Heating & Cooling on Grosse Ile. Instead of handing the Heating & Cooling business to one of his 4 sons, Robert decided to sell it and encourage his sons to go to college to pursue more “suit and tie” type jobs.
Dave went to college at Central Michigan University to study Business. He left college not only with a wealth of knowledge, but also a wife named Laura. Dave immediately applied to many companies and took an opportunity as apparel manager at Kmart in Bowling Green, KY. After a few years at Kmart, Dave quit to accept a similar position with Eddie Bauer in Novi, MI. Then they purchased their first home, in Livonia, and had their first child, me.
One year later, my parents bought their second home in Sterling Heights. We resided there for the next 21 years, soon welcoming my sister Danielle. Their move to the Eastside was prompted by a new job opportunity, one with more earning potential to offset the costs of raising a family. A few months earlier, Dave had turned to the newspaper and saw an advertisement for a sales position at a large home improvement company in St. Clair Shores, MI.
On the day of the interview, he was met with inclement weather and showed up wet, young, eager, and naive. When the interviewer asked Dave how much money he would like to make, he answered with a conservative, “$27,000.” The ad had said, “Great opportunity for a 35 year old to make $35,000,” and Dave was only 27 years old. “My dad always told me if I made my age, I’d be doing well. My goal is to make $50,000 by the time I’m 50 years old,” said Dave to the interviewer. This sentiment was met with a “get out of here” and, consequently, Dave left. As instructed in business school, Dave went home and wrote the company a “thank you for the opportunity” letter and sent it off in the mail. They were so impressed by the letter that they asked him to come back for another interview. “Would you send thank you letters to every potential client while you are working here? Then you’re hired.”
For the next five years, Dave worked long hours and became a top salesperson. He found out he had a knack for home improvement sales; he had a lot of industry knowledge and his customers loved him. In 1992, the company abruptly went out of business, leaving dozens of projects unfinished. Dave took it upon himself to make sure these existing projects were all followed through to completion, by hiring subcontractors and scheduling them himself. As fate would have it, in January of 1993, Kopke Home Enhancement, Inc. was born.
Our first office was located on Jefferson Ave. in St. Clair Shores, but from 1996 to 2013 we called Harper Ave. at 12 Mile Rd. our home. During these 20 years, we experienced year-after-year growth, mainly due to past customers and referrals.
We moved to Sterling Heights in 2013, as we finally outgrew our previous office/showroom and sought to expand our radius of travel. We have more team members on our staff than ever before, and our showroom is so big you really have to see it to believe it!
As for me, I have worked here every summer since I could type (I remember the days of rolodex cards and typewriters). After graduating from the College for Creative Studies with a degree in Photography in 2011, I was hired on full-time as Marketing Manager. Through all these years and the changes we have made, we have never forgotten the reasons for our success: thank you cards and complete customer satisfaction and referrals.