LEE MICHAEL KENNEDY
617.825.6930 | leekennedy.com
Lee Kennedy Company is a full service construction firm providing feasibility analysis, pre-construction and construction management, and general contracting services. Lee Kennedy is the company’s president and CEO.
Who started this family business?
This is a second generation family business started by our father. Our father worked for another construction firm in the 1970s until that company closed in 1977. In February, 1978, my father founded the Lee Kennedy Co., Inc. His goal was to create a company that was very customer-centric, which was different from how construction was delivered back in those days.
I started working for the company as a laborer, taking the bus from Duxbury to job sites while I was still in high school. I continued to work for my dad during the summers when I was in college. When I completed my bachelor’s degree, I came back to work for the company. I later got my construction management degree at Wentworth Institute of Technology and was able to move into estimating and project management. I think working our way up through the company gave me and my brother a better understanding of all aspects of the business. My brother, Gene, is vice president and is a great business partner.
Why is the location of your business so important to the success of your business?
Boston is an outstanding and diverse market. It has great businesses, and some of the best hospitals, best higher education, science, technology, and pharmaceutical companies in the world. It’s very unique compared to the rest of the country. Because of that diversity, we had a much different experience than many other businesses during the recession. The local economy in Boston did much better than other cities across the country.
What is unique about building in Boston?
Boston has a lot of unique and historic architecture, which it does a good job at protecting and sustaining. One of the reasons that the business grew so quickly is because my dad did a lot of adaptive reuse, for example taking a building built for a single outdated purpose, such as furniture manufacturing, and converting it to office space or lab space.
Have you ever encountered any challenges in your family business?
Certainly through the transition from the previous generation to our generation there’s that gap of experience that needs to get filled. There were definitely bumps along the way, but the business was built on such a solid reputation and strong financial foundation, that we made the transition quite successfully.
What’s the best advice that someone in your family offered you?
My father used to say to me, “It’s not about the mistakes you make, it’s what you do about it.”