Michael Kennedy, Jr., CEO of KAI Enterprises and The UP Companies (UPCO), has the prestigious honor of being named a 2023 St. Louis Titan 100 – a program recognizing the area’s most accomplished C-level executives for their exceptional leadership, vision and passion.
Collectively, the 2023 St. Louis Titan 100 and their companies employ more than 94,000 individuals and generate $28 billion dollars in annual revenues. They embody the true diversity of the St. Louis business landscape, representing technology, manufacturing, education, healthcare, construction/real estate, professional services, hospitality, transportation and non-profit organizations among many others. They will be honored at an annual awards ceremony on April 6.
“The Titan 100 are changing the way that business is done in St. Louis. These preeminent leaders have built a distinguished reputation that is unrivaled and preeminent in their field. We proudly recognize the Titan 100 for their efforts to shape the future of the St. Louis business community. Their achievements create a profound impact that makes an extraordinary difference for their customers and clients across the nation,” said Jaime Zawmon, President of Titan CEO.
As CEO of Minority Business Enterprise KAI (architecture, engineering and construction firm) and UPCO (electrical, carpentry and labor subcontractor services), Kennedy has successfully embraced change in the ever-evolving design and construction industry. After years of developing progressive resolutions, Kennedy managed to grow KAI’s revenue from $8 million in his first year as president to more than $55 million. He founded The UP Companies in 2011 and propelled the subcontractor’s revenue from $3.7 million in its first year to more than $70 million.
A second-generation leader, Kennedy also strives to promote diversity within the industry workforce, develop new clients and expand into new markets, all while leading the companies’ strategic vision and business alignment to transform underserved communities through integrated design and construction excellence.
“We do this not just through the physical environment but also through serving the communities of the people who use them,” said Kennedy. “KAI seeks the most complex, culturally conscious and politically sensitive projects that will make lasting differences in the lives they touch. UPCO is our boots on the ground. We build up communities through diversity, innovation and integrity. This is a killer combination that creates great projects, builds great people, encourages extreme diversity and transforms the communities we work in all over the country.”
Under Kennedy’s leadership, KAI has expanded from St Louis to across the nation with offices in Dallas-Fort Worth; Atlanta; and Kansas City, Kansas; and has grown a diverse staff from 60 to over 150. Through a complete company re-branding effort and a focus on talent acquisition, training and staff diversification, he and his team grew UPCO from 34 employees to well over 470 office and field staff. KAI and UPCO’s core industries include healthcare, higher and elementary education, commercial office, retail, public housing, water, government and transportation.
KAI Enterprises is a national design and build firm providing delivery-oriented building solutions with a diverse portfolio of experience, in-house multi-discipline professionals, and expertise in both design and construction delivery. Founded in 1980, KAI has grown into one of the largest minority-owned firms in the AEC industry. For more than 40 years, KAI has been instrumental in transforming communities through its expertise in residential, commercial, K-12, higher education, healthcare, science and technology, aviation, mobility, sports and entertainment, government, water and community-focused projects. KAI Enterprises is comprised of four distinct business units—KAI Design, KAI Engineering, KAI Build and KAI 360 Construction Services. To learn more about KAI, visit www.kai-db.com.
About The UP Companies
Headquartered in St. Louis with a full-service regional office in Kansas City, The UP Companies (UPCO) is one of the Midwest’s largest full-service sub-contracting companies offering fully integrated solutions for general contractors, owners and facilities management professionals.
For a decade, UPCO has focused on its mission of Building UP Communities Through Innovation, Diversity, and Integrity, providing superior design and contracting services through each of its distinct operating companies— Power UP Electrical Contractors, Square UP Builders and Hustle UP Laborers.
Power UP is one of the region’s largest minority-owned, full-service electrical contractors and a leader in electrical and technology systems design, construction, installation and maintenance serving the commercial, residential, industrial and institutional marketplaces.
Square UP is one of the region’s largest full-service carpentry contractors specializing in high-quality rough and finish carpentry and drywall services for the commercial, industrial, institutional and healthcare markets.
Hustle UP is a certified minority-owned business offering general labor, selective demolition, general clean up, site maintenance and final cleaning services.
UPCO delivers a highly diverse and exceptionally productive union workforce that is fit tested, safety-trained and lives up to The UP Companies’ reputation of ensuring a timely and successful completion of construction projects. For more information, visit www.theupcompanies.com.