When Ramsey Khalidi made the trek from Detroit to Savannah in the early 1980s, he was struck by the city’s historic buildings and unique architecture. So when he saw builders in the city just trashing the interiors of historic homes, he wanted to do something about it.
A former industrial engineer, Khalidi started RK Construction, a company dedicated to restoring old buildings using historic materials. He would gather materials like windows, doors, trim and even roofing materials from buildings about to be demolished. Then he would reuse those materials in other building projects.
Khalidi told Inc his philosophy about historic structures:
“Somewhere, somehow, 100 percent of a building can be reused.”
After about 10 years, Khalidi had collected more materials than he really needed for his building projects. So he started the Southern Pine Company of Georgia to sell some of those materials to others looking for historic additions to their homes or building projects.
Through both of his companies, Khalidi tries to always keep the good of the community in mind. Once, he even arranged to have seven homes moved down the street so that an underserved neighborhood could get a supermarket.
In a lot of places, just tearing down those old homes to make room for a grocery store wouldn’t seem so terrible. But Savannah is a city that is known for its history. And that’s part of what convinced Khalidi and plenty of others to settle there.
So by saving parts of historic structures, Khalidi’s main goal is to preserve the past and help his community keep some of its historic charm. But he’s also catering to the needs of others who share his love of the history and character of that Savannah architecture.
Whether they’re looking for their own home with historic charm or just in the market for some of those leftover historic materials, there are plenty of people in the area who are interested in what Khalidi is offering. And that shared interest and love of the city is what has made his businesses successful.
Image: RK Construction
This article, “Entrepreneur Works to Preserve History and Cater to City’s Needs” was first published on Small Business Trends