Michelle and Ryan Thompson have opened Kitchen Tune-Up to help renovate kitchens and bathrooms in the area. Kylie Hubbard, USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee
When Michelle and Ryan Thompson graduated from the University of Tennessee Knoxville in December 2001, they wanted nothing more than to stay in the area.¬†
The couple, however, moved to Ryan’s hometown of Memphis.¬†Ryan and Michelle were¬†engaged¬†nearly a year later.
“The whole time, especially after we decided to get married, the game plan was to return to Knoxville,” Ryan said.
Another part of the game plan? To own a business.
“We’ve always wanted to own our own business,” Ryan said. “As a matter of fact, right out of college we had talked about a couple different options. We were young and inexperienced¬†and didn’t pull the trigger on anything.”
Michelle worked for 14 years in the staffing and recruiting industry with Robert Half International and was vice president of Robert Half’s¬†OfficeTeam¬†Memphis and Knoxville market¬†when she left the industry.¬†
Ryan found a passion for the Memphis Redbirds and ran ticket sales, promotions¬†and corporate sales for more than seven years before working as UT Athletics’ director of annual giving from 2009 to 2016.¬†
After a combined 15 years in the marketing industry and the birth of their son, Sean, in 2015,¬†the pair opened a franchise of Kitchen Tune-Up in April 2016 to serve Knoxville and its surrounding communities.¬†
“It was one of those things that we didn’t want to always wonder ‘what if?’ ” Ryan said. “What if we had started a business? What if we took that step of faith out on our own and tried, but didn’t do it. I didn’t want that regret and neither did she (Michelle).”¬†
Kitchen Tune-Up was founded by Dave and Cindy Haglund in 1988 in Aberdeen, South Dakota. With a goal of keeping customer service as a first priority, the couple created a process to keep wood surfaces looking new. Kitchen Tune-Up now has almost 100 locations across the country.¬†
“The beauty of our franchise, and one of the biggest reasons we decided to open Kitchen Tune-Up, is because we offer such a variety of service options,” Ryan said.¬†
The least expensive project the team can take on is its “Original Tune-Up,” a one-day wood restoration process. Stained wood cabinets that look worn¬†or scuffed can be polished and treated to look new again.¬†
Kitchen-Tune Up also offers door replacement, custom cabinets, cabinet refacing and painting, granite and quartz countertops, and organizers to make spaces functional. The team¬†also can remodel bathroom wood surfaces¬†and construct custom closets and garage cabinets.¬†
“We have such a variety to choose from, including the recessed and shaker styles to the more traditional raised panels and even a more modern and sleeker slab look,” Ryan said. “You also have a variety of colors to choose from both in a stain or paint. The options truly are limitless.”¬†
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Michelle typically does the marketing and bookkeeping as “the wizard behind the curtain,” according to Ryan.
Ryan handles the in-home consults and project management.¬†
“I do get my hands dirty,” Ryan said. “I like to get involved, and that’s one of the ways I am getting to know my business from the ground up.”
Outside of learning some of the basics, Ryan said the couple has learned more about themselves.¬†
“We have both learned so much both about being business owners and the industry, of course,” Ryan said. “It has been eye-opening as well as fun, challenging and great for both of us professionally and personally.”¬†¬†
Currently in a busy season, Ryan said the couple prides themselves on¬†providing customers with the best¬†experience.¬†¬†
“We truly pride ourselves on being able to update someone’s home with as little hassle as possible. That’s our goal,” Ryan said. “As well as providing exceptional quality and superior customer service.”¬†
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