Local home builder stays under the radar while growing her business
By Anna G. Larson FARGO FORUM
on Mar 13, 2016 at 10:54 a.m.
FARGO – For years, when Angie Kuznia was spotted at a construction site, she was mistaken for the Realtor or homeowner.
Kuznia, 40, is the owner of custom home-building company Titan Homes, but she prefers to stay under the radar.
She doesn't advertise much, relying on word-of-mouth and referrals for business.
When Kuznia, a 2016 YWCA Women of the Year nominee, sat down with The Forum, she said it was her first-ever interview.
Since founding Titan Homes in 2005, Kuznia built 200 houses in Fargo, West Fargo, Moorhead and surrounding areas. The business started after she built her family home. Her first spec house sold immediately.
"I think I was offering a different approach to home building. I came into the industry with using white interior trim and offering a cottage-y, Craftsman feel in my homes. I did all of the project management and designs in the homes so I was able to build them as if I was moving into them myself, which offered a personal touch that was missing in the industry," Kuznia says.
When she established Titan Homes, it was rare to have a female own a construction company, she says, which is why people would assume she was at a job site to sell a home or buy one.
She built three houses her first year of business, doing everything from design to painting to project management and accounting.
In 11 years, Titan Homes grew to complete about 30 homes a year and hired two employees. Kuznia's husband, an engineer, left his career to join Titan Homes as vice president.
"I get a proud feeling when I look at where we started and where we are now," Kuznia says.
Growing up in Stephen, Minn., a small town about two hours north of Fargo, Kuznia would look at home plan books as a kid. Her parents didn't have a background in home building, but her mom enjoyed decorating their rambler. Kuznia was allowed to paint her bedroom and change up her space as she pleased.
She moved to Fargo 22 years ago to study to be a dental assistant. When she and her husband had three kids, Kuznia stayed home with them, teaching aerobics and yoga classes. The family decided to build a home more than 11 years ago, and Kuznia decided she could do it. She found mentors to help her learn the business, like Gary Fritz, owner of GFE Inc., an electrical contractor.
"She started with no knowledge and now she's a very smart lady. No question about it," says Fritz, who's worked in construction for 35 years.
Kuznia's hands-on approach to building stands out, he says. At the end of a job, she's usually inside the home, touching up paint. Fritz also describes her as honest.
"I have a lot of respect for her because she's always been honest with me. That's one thing that I really like about her. In the field as well, she's honest with everybody," he says.
Park Co. Realtor Melissa Mozley says Kuznia's built a positive reputation with that honesty and her involvement in every aspect of the building process. The two women met professionally about five years ago, and Titan Homes later built Mozley's family house.
"A lot of builders have a team of people—managers, design people, in-house staff. When you're working with Angie, you're actually working with Angie," Mozley says. "She's a breath of fresh air."
The Titan Homes team is only four members—Kuznia, her husband and two designers. Kuznia relies on solid relationships with subcontractors to ensure homes are completed, typically, in 90 to 120 days. She's used many of the same professionals since she started.
"They become like family. You build that relationship and trust and know they're going to put out good work," she says.
When she's not working, Kuznia's going to her kids' activities, cooking, gardening or working in her home. A few weeks ago, she was up at 4:30 a.m. painting a bathroom.
"I like to be on the go. My house changes a lot," she says.
Although she's fully involved with her business, Kuznia believes in leaving work at work so she can enjoy her own home and family. But her goal is to continue growing Titan Homes and "doing her own thing."
"When people see their home complete and they're moving in and they're happy, that offers a great sense of satisfaction for me," she says. "I really feel like this is my dream job."