Tara Saxton – KTM Exteriors & Recycling
Reputations spread fast in the construction industry, and that’s worked to the advantage of New Hampshire-based roofing and siding specialist KTM Exteriors & Recycling.
When the historic Wentworth by the Sea in New Castle needed a new roof in 2018, KTM was contracted for the project. One year later, it was entrusted with an even more challenging project in abutting Portsmouth.
The Sheraton Portsmouth Harborside Hotel needed roofing and specialty siding that would adhere to the stringent rules and regulations of the city’s Historic District Commission. The aesthetic of the existing wood facade had to be maintained. HardiePlank lap siding was chosen for its tradition and timeless style, and how it complemented the surrounding structures.
“That showed we’re not afraid to tackle a project in a historic district,” says Tara Saxton, who recently celebrated her 19th year as president of the family-owned company. “And our willingness to collaborate with other contractors to get a project done under any conditions.”
With downtown Portsmouth prone to congestion, Saxton scheduled deliveries and operations with consideration for others. KTM’s role being just one part of the hotel’s upgrade, she allowed other vendors use of her lifts and dumpster. Challenging as this project was, it wasn’t KTM’s toughest.
“We’ve worked under a lot of tight restrictions in Boston,” Saxton tells Blueprint in June from her Hampstead office. “There we’re dealing with a large building department and commissions and navigating all kinds of complexities.”
Complexities notwithstanding, KTM’s work proceeds on a condominium at Edgar Allan Poe Square at the intersection of Boston’s much-traveled Boylston and Charles streets. Though Beantown’s infamous gridlock stands to be even more congested with this summer’s closure of the Sumner Tunnel, Saxton assures that KTM will continue performing up to, if not beyond, expectations.
While there are projects aplenty in New England, the company has expanded into Florida where it operates in two divisions: KTM Exteriors and Environmental Restorations. According to Saxton, both are doing well, with the Sunshine State’s construction industry booming and hurricanes and tropical storms leaving many buildings in need of repair.
Saxton has placed a company representative, John Crosby, in St. Augustine and arranged for an office in Lakeland. KTM recently won the bid for roof replacement on a 15-story building owned by Gatehouse Mgt. in Miami, and has smaller projects in other locales, including Tampa, Jacksonville and Daytona. Recent storms having left much damage in their wake, especially on the Gulf Coast, KTM’s Environmental Restoration crews keep busy, she says.
Saxton says it helps to have her father and company founder, Chuck Minasalli, in Florida for much of the year while she mostly minds the New England projects. There’s always big-ticket repeat business, especially on the commercial and institutional side, as well as residential projects.
When she spoke with Blueprint, KTM was wrapping up a major siding project at the prestigious Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. This past January, KTM commenced with installing the siding—again, HardiePlank lap—on eight buildings, two of which are also considered historic. Saxton expects the project to be complete by Labor Day.
There’s more repeat work in the fast-growing suburb of Bedford, New Hampshire, where the Village Green Condominiums allocates an annual budget for KTM’s roofing. Having worked with Village Green since installing a successful test roof in 2019, KTM is certain to be called back, Saxton says.
That also could be the case in southern Maine, where KTM has been putting the finishing touches on a major roofing trim at the Grand Victorian, a signature structure at Old Orchard Beach whose upgrade had been long delayed. Upon being contracted, KTM was given a tight timeline, under often rainy skies, but with tenacity, skill and the dedication of Operations Manager Jay Gurley, Saxton says everything has proceeded as scheduled.
Born to build
There was a time when Saxton would have gotten her hands dirty and calloused. Under their father’s tutelage, her two brothers, her sister and Saxton literally learned this business from the ground up. She helped pay her tuition at Babson College by lugging ladders and painting Boston buildings. Saxton combining onsite work with office responsibilities, she was ready to take charge soon after graduating Babson in 2003 with a degree in business management and marketing.
What was a family-owned business has evolved into one that’s woman-owned, and not just for favorable positioning in public contracting.
“It’s not just a name on paper like others that claim to be woman-owned even though the woman isn’t very active in the day-to-day,” Saxton says. “I’m highly involved in this company and that sets us apart. Women aren’t as common in the leadership of construction.”
But the presidential letterhead doesn’t say it all, for Saxton laughingly calls herself an “overpaid babysitter and firefighter.” The role, after all, does call for a comprehensive skillset with her also handling the marketing, advertising and customer service. As far as the onsite work goes, she sums it up as “measure twice, cut once and stand by the KTM name.”
The KTM name seems to speak for itself, with projects coming in and the Florida expansion exceeding expectations. KTM also has been spared the boom-and-bust cycles of the industry, what with Saxton making the most of a lean and mean crew and the wisdom of sustaining her father’s modus operandi: “Get me the work and I’ll figure out how to get it done.”
Saxton’s personal life is also flourishing with a family home on Lake Winnipesaukee in Laconia and her balancing business demands with such outdoor pursuits as scuba diving and boating in the summer and snowmobiling and skiing in the winter. Nothing like a 100-foot dive to block out the business mindset, she says.
But when playtime’s over, Saxton is all business. Any facet of the construction business is competitive, even cutthroat. A company’s got to be on the level, another value she learned from her father.
“I know we’re great, but we’re not perfect,” she recalls him saying. “Don’t judge us by our mistakes, but how we fix it, and any mistake we make we’re fixing it 10-fold.”
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