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‘Wired differently’ and agile, founder of K2 Kinetics finds success in York County

‘Wired differently’ and agile, founder of K2 Kinetics finds success in York County

  • Kevin Keller built his Springettsbury Township business by focusing on what he does best: problem-solving.
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Kevin Keller’s office feels like a Silicon Valley startup was dropped in the middle of Southcentral Pennsylvania.

Beyond the bold branding, green walls, and ping pong table, his Springettsbury Township company, K2 Kinetics, is delivering innovation.

The reason his business is based in York County, Kevin says, is strategic. The region touts itself as the “snack food capital of the world.” For K2, that’s the industry they choose to focus on, helping companies automate their production lines.

Their clients range from Hershey Foods to Wolfgang Confectioners and Starbucks to Pepsi Co.

“There’s always a consumer demanding a different flavor of Gatorade or a differently sized candy bar,” Keller says. “That’s where we help our clients engineer and manufacture changes to their factory floors — whether it is speed improvements, labor utilization, or new greenfield projects.”

Entrepreneurial journey

Kevin has lived all over the country but has focused on food automation to lead him to where he is today.

With both a business and an engineering degree, he started with internships and real-world experience in the Consumer Packaged Goods landscape before jumping in to help an uncle who ran his own packaging company.

He later found himself in the corporate world working for a global snack company. Despite the opportunities he had there, something was driving him to do what he did best: problem-solving, which led him to start K2 Kinetics in 2011.

“I knew after working in the corporate world that I was wired differently,” he says. “I look at things differently. I assess problems differently. Certain aspects of running a business are stressful and not natural, but the technical side has never been one of those things.”

Kevin plays to his strengths and weaknesses as K2’s founder: he believes he’s strongest in directing the bigger picture, so he’s taken on the role of managing director.

The growth of K2 is thoughtful and intentional, he says. While K2 has big clients, he doesn’t see his company growing beyond a staff of 50.

“I always want to be that nimble, agile partner,” he says. “We’re experts at what we’re doing, and I want to continue to provide the personal touches that are so important to us.”

Delivering solutions

Kevin used to believe in one-, three-, and five-year plans for his business.

“I changed my viewpoints in the past few years to focus on smaller chunks of time — 30-, 60-, and 90-days — while allowing the trends over the last 10 years in business to guide us long-term,” he says.

Their track record of bringing quick solutions landed an Apple project during the pandemic, where K2 engineered and manufactured robotic automation that filled and sealed COVID-19 Test Vials.

While they typically have a 20-plus week lead time, they were able to turn it around in about five weeks.

“For the last 20 years, the U.S. has struggled in comparison to our Asian counterparts,” Kevin says. “We are part of the puzzle driving automation back into the U.S. utilizing agile principles, and it makes me really excited for the future of our industry.”