After nearly 30 years running a successful Front Range company manufacturing custom shipping crates, animal enclosures and micro-structures, Kevin Kvols is turning his focus and his finances to a new endeavor.
Kvols and his son Jason, 26, have created Compassion Shelters, a new nonprofit that would bring the materials for snap-together micro-dwellings to third world countries, areas stricken by natural disasters or cities looking to address their homeless problem.
The shelters can vary in size and are easily buildable, snapping together in as little as 30 minutes without tools.
The elder Kvols started Compassion Shelters about seven years ago but was still too focused on his larger company, VPE Global, to dedicate much time to the new nonprofit.
“Now this will be our focus,” he said.
Kevin Kvols first saw business success through his company Companion Habitats, which manufactured plastic crates used to display animals in stores like PetSmart. Through VPE Global, he also created SnapCrates, custom-made reusable plywood boxes used for shipping and Rigid Tent Systems, multi-use shelters that have become popular with the United States government for use during military training.
Though the company was headquarted in Colorado Springs, Kevin Kvols and his wife, Ann, have owned and lived at the Circle K Ranch, southwest of Steamboat Springs on Routt County Road 43, since 2001.
Jason Kvols was a 2008 Steamboat Springs High School graduate and finished college before starting work with his father as a project manager at VPE Global.
In June, the family shut down the company’s Colorado Springs headquarters with plans to focus on Compassion Shelters.
“We sold that to pursue this,” Kevin Kvols said.
On Wednesday, the father-and-son duo was finishing up cleaning and preparing a lot of 15 communications shelters for the government at their ranch, the last shipment they would oversee from VPE Global.
Rather than mass manufacture Compassion Shelters the way Rigid Tent Systems were produced, the nonprofit would seek to teach the people that would use the structures how to build them, as well as relying on help from people recovering from addition looking for service work through the U-Turn For Christ program.
In the case of third-world countries, the nonprofit would seek to use as many local materials as possible, as well as shipping in the necessary components to build the structures.
“We can teach people to manufacture these themselves,” Jason Kvols said. “That’s where our hearts are.”
Startup funds for the nonprofit are coming from Kevin and Ann Kvols, who are eager to give back after finding their own success.
“We’ll bring 30 years of manufacturing success into the field,” Kevin Kvols said. “We just want to help people. God has been so great to us, and we want to give back.”
People from around the country, and even internationally, have already shown interest in Compassion Shelters, including homeless advocates in Dallas, Texas, who are working through the logistics of creating a $5 million, 350-person Compassion Shelters neighborhood on a 3- to 5-acre plot within the city.
The Kvols are also reaching out locally to the Housing Stability Task Force, a group run by Routt County United Way, to see if Compassion Shelters could be a temporary housing option for local people facing homelessness.
Jason Kvols and his wife, Haleigh, are in the early stages of opening an organization headquarters on the Front Range, though manufacturing of new shelters would happen elsewhere.
“It’s going to be really exciting,” Jason Kvols said.