JIM MCLAIN SAYS THAT in 43 years of being in business, he’s only ever worked half days. The joke is, his half days are 12 hours long, not four. Linda and Jim McLain, owners of Signature Kitchens & Baths and Signature Appliance Center, have been doing their magic in Lowcountry homes since 1977. By my calculations, Jim McLain’s half-day schedule equals roughly 161,508 hours in the industry. If 10,000 hours makes one an expert in something, then the McLains are something like Most Supreme Gurus.
Signature Kitchens & Baths is known for designing and installing award-winning interiors that are highly attuned to the tastes, lifestyles and budgets of their clients. Not only does the company create beautiful, functional kitchens and baths, but it is also a licensed contractor with a team of full-time electricians, carpenters, painters and craftspeople. Most of its work is done in-house by hourly employees.
Control over every aspect of a renovation project means Signature Kitchens & Baths can be hyper-efficient and avoid delays. The company’s process varies from most in the business because it buys and stages all the products required for the job in advance of starting the project. That eliminates those annoying situations where projects get delayed because one element is missing or late. “When you work like that, you’ll get two months behind fast,” Jim McLain says. “I have my customers’ cabinets in my warehouse way before the job starts. That’s what puts us in control.”
The entire team has a reputation for hard work and no-excuses high quality. “Most of our business comes from word of mouth,” McLain says. “Builders, architects and interior designers send their clients to us because they know we’ll take care of them. We offer an entire service; we design the project and execute the work per plans, within the budget and on time.”
The family business operates out of an impressive 7,200-square-foot showroom on Savannah Highway. There are seven kitchen designers on staff, including the McLains’ two sons, a daughter and a son-in-law. Not that their expert team needs oversight, but McLain says he and his wife are “very sensitive to how their customers are being taken care of.”
Scroll through the Signature Kitchens & Baths portfolio on its website or Houzz, and you’ll notice the thoughtful details in its projects. “People are expecting a more refined design that fits their lifestyle,” McLain says. Though the company is known for its high-end renovations and new construction work, it caters to all price ranges. Because the McLains also own the Signature Appliance Center, an 8,400-square-foot showroom that represents 120 lines of appliances, they can save their customers money. The most expensive items in a kitchen renovation are the cabinets, appliances and countertops. These are supplied by Signature, which saves money for the clients.
When clients come in to discuss a kitchen or bath renovation, the team listens carefully. In the design world, that means helping clients set expectations and think of practical matters they may not know to consider. They’re so good at this that many of their repeat clients hand them the keys to their house, go away and let the McLains do what they do best.
Signature Kitchens & Baths is currently operating on regular business hours. During the “Great Pause,” the company kept staff busy and safe by doing renovations in empty second homes. “People know what to expect when they work with us, and they trust us even if they aren’t there,” McLain says. The team has been so busy that they even hired additional staff. The company primarily operates in the Lowcountry, but frequently takes projects out of town or out of the country.
“We like to say, ‘If you’re ever our client, you’re always our client,’” McLain says. With the company’s dedication to integrity, efficiency, customer experience and satisfaction, it’s easy to see why that’s true.
Robin Howard is a full-time freelance writer in Charleston. See more of her work at robinhowardwrites.com