CEO Traci Kelley–Setting standards for success in the OC building industry
by Dianne Austin
Take the name “Traci Kelley” and make it a hashtag for “Wonder Woman,” because the CEO and owner of Combined Resources Inc. in Rancho Santa Margarita, Ca. has the incredible ability to Rock a one-woman show. She may not claim that she can do it all, but one thing’s for certain, she has that kind of determination!
Kelley’s been able to grow her multi-million dollar company with savvy, style, and flare while still managing to orchestrate and nurture a large (and now even larger) family. The result she’s been able to achieve is the creation of a life that takes all the family and business components she has to juggle and integrates them, while working hard, spreading love, and giving back, almost on a daily basis.
This is because she is humble, yet smart and assertive, strong and capable, but empathetic—characteristics which make for a phenomenally powerful and unique leader of a thriving company.
CRi So Cal Inc. is a major subcontractor that supplies and installs Anderson, Alpine, and Western residential windows and doors for scores of elite tract homes in the southern California vicinity. Traci Kelley, the 55 year old CEO, established the business in 2006, and since 2008, has been able to single-handedly drive the sales for the company upward into the multi-million dollar range.
Traci began the company with a partner in 2006 and bought him out in 2008. She went on to realize $2 million in sales for CRi by 2011. Last year, in 2016, Kelley’s CRi made $18-1/2 million.
Kelley’s staff of 30+ people is key to the company’s success, and when she speaks of the “whys and wherefores” of her corporate solidity, she doesn’t just talk about herself and her own roles in making it such, she also always discusses her team of people.
About General Manager Tony Cipollone, Kelley states emphatically that he is “very important to me.” And follows it up with, “Tony can run things with his eyes closed.”
Although the company started in 2006, Traci began her sales career in 1987 with a high school education behind her. She sold construction industry building materials from 1987-99, and in 1999 she started in the windows and doors arena with a company called Stanline Inc. in Norwalk.
Presently, as the CEO of CRi, Traci Kelley remains the only Sales Rep for the company. Her main strength is her ability to engage in Value Engineering when dealing with the Builders and their architectural design plans.Value Engineering minimizes overall costs and maximizes architectural design and function. If asked, she will say that it’s this ability, more than anything else, that sets her apart from her competitors and gives her the stellar reputation she’s been able to establish.
The fact that she’s a woman running a company in what has traditionally been a male-oriented business has never, in her opinion, been a detriment. In fact, as Kelley states emphatically, it has always seemed to work to her advantage. Has she ever felt discriminated against, perhaps slighted in any way?
“There’s nothing about being a female in this industry that has ever proven to be a problem for me. In fact, if anything, it’s been an advantage. I have nothing but great respect and the highest regard for the people I’ve met and done business with in the window and door industry, and I feel like that same attitude has always been reciprocated.”
Traci believes in the three E’s—Experience, Expertise, and ETHICS. It becomes immediately obvious after talking with her that it’s these elements that make her a cutting-edge triple threat in the tract home window and door industry today.
But the icing on the cake is that Traci is not only an impressive business woman, she’s also the hub, heart, and home-base for a wonderful, new-age and cohesive family that lives in Coto de Caza, California!
There’s fiancee Bill King who heads the household with Traci, and their (combined) children, Warren 23, Nicole 22, Blake 20,, and Kaya 19 months. Home life for the Kelley/King family consists of hanging out at their lovely Coto de Caza home and engaging in BBQ’s and outings, travel to local and distant places, attention to schoolwork at home for the kids, seeing to higher education for the young adult children, and. . .BASEBALL AND FOOTBALL!!!
Traci is a HUGE fan and has season tickets for her Angels and Rams teams. She knows all the players by name, knows the positions they play, and the statistics that effect the games. When the season starts, you can be pretty sure where to find her on any given night—she’s usually at the stadium or in front of her TV at home watching every minute of each of the games!
But no one goes through life without challenges, and if you ask her which the most difficult segment of her life tends to be, what her biggest life challenge is, she’ll tell you it’s her personal and family life. Not to say that happiness and success in that realm have not been realized. It is apparent that they have. But Ms. Kelley believes this is the area that requires more attention, dedication, and devotion to persistence. For Traci, the business end of things has always come naturally, but it’s running and balancing a large family and managing the human operative that really presents the significant challenges!
Perhaps the basis for all of Traci’s personal and professional achievements comes from the fact that her roots were a little compromised at first. Before they had been given a chance to be watered and fed so that they could take a firm hold, something happened.
When Traci was just two years old a set of circumstances that surrounded her parent’s relocation of the family ended with the death of her father, and the subsequent care that she and her brother required was transferred from her mother to another couple entirely. It could’ve been an early disaster, but instead, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The children were settled into the home of the Mantooth family (who already had six other children) where they were soon to find sanctuary from the storm that led to a place that felt like home, and a set of parents and brothers and sisters that all showered them with love. So here it was that love became the key for the beginning that set her on her way.
And now it’s love that keeps her going.
After eleven years of working hard to make CRi successful, and twenty years of dedicated parenting (some of which was completed as a single mom) Traci decided to become a NEW mom once again in life and adopt a baby girl! Traci and Bill just signed adoption papers to make it all legal, and Kaya Erin-Kelley was drawn into the fold of the family. According to Mom, she is definitely treated like the little princess in the Kelley/King household.
New mom Traci just can’t keep still about her daughter.
“Kaya is like a little old soul. She’s only 19 months but she has the coordination and reactions of a 3 year old so much of the time! I believe in environmental influence over genetics. The fact that I was adopted made me realize that environment far supersedes anything that is passed along in our DNA or is inherited. My adoptive parents and sibs were the main factors who shaped me to become the adult I am today, and I firmly believe the same will happen with Kaya!”
Traci doesn’t just give back and share the fruits of her labor in and amongst family and close friends, she also believes in giving back to community and people who are less fortunate. So when City of Hope asked her to be a part of their annual gala, Kelley’s company participated wholeheartedly. Combined Resources Inc. has also teamed up with scores of other national and community based programs and fundraisers over the years.
Kelley also loves giving back and paying it forward every year at Christmastime when she holds an amazingly large and festive holiday party right on the premises of the company site. The Yuletide goodies are set up to be displayed and shared all around and across a massive warehouse space that is part of her own facility. The 2016 holiday party was awesome and the 2017 event promises to be spectacular as well!
What’s in store for Kelley and CRi in the future?
“I’ve told my financial planner I’d like to retire by the time I’m 60. That’s only five years from now, but I’m looking forward to doing more with my family. I want to get more involved with my baby daughter’s journey. I want to travel and maybe get involved in other work endeavors. I don’t know. It’s great to think that one of my sons might want to get involved and run the business.”
However it goes, it’s a sure bet it’ll go the right way, because Traci Kelley seems to have a magic touch—when it comes to her family business, and when it comes to the business of running a family. But if you ask her what magic potion she uses to make it all happen Traci would say that there’s no magic in it at all—just a whole lot of love wrapped up in a multitude of individuals who like to work together to make things grow.
“My parents were the greatest people ever. They took me in even though they had little money, but they were the kind that when asked for donations for those even less fortunate than they were, they’d give five dollars if they only had five dollars. And if they only had ten, they’d give ten.
Early positive and strong role models often make the difference in many lives, and in the case of the Kelley/King family compound in Coto de Caza and Traci Kelley’s company, CRI, So Cal Inc. in Santa Margarita, the difference is significant and palpable.
The difference boils down to love.
Contact: Traci Kelly