The Katt Advantage
Katt Construction, LLC strives to be among the most trusted construction companies in Wisconsin
“Someone told me to call Katt.” That’s a sentence Herb Katt, Owner of Katt Construction, LLC hears over and over again. “About 90% of our work comes from existing customers and referrals. When you build something people are happy with, word gets around,” he says.
Headquartered in Racine, Wisconsin, Katt Construction is a general contractor that provides design-build and renovation services for commercial and industrial customers across southeast Wisconsin. “We work primarily with property owners. We’ve built and renovated a wide array of buildings—from warehouses and offices to churches, beauty salons, gymnasiums and eye care clinics.” With an average project size of $300,000, the company provides construction services at every level of a project’s life span.
Katt Construction is in the process of completing its second 24,000-square-foot warehouse and office for Lotus Light Enterprises, Inc. in Silver Lake, Wisconsin. “The property can accommodate three buildings,” Herb says. “We constructed the first 24,000-square-foot warehouse in 2006. The owners were very happy with the work, and more than 10 years later, they contacted us again to build their second building.”
Herb notes that customers are happy because the company offers the Katt Advantage with each and every project. “I founded the company with one belief in mind: Customer service and satisfaction are priorities above the bottom line. That’s the Katt Advantage.”
Complete Customer Satisfaction
What that means is that Katt Construction doesn’t walk away from a job until the customer is completely satisfied. And if something isn’t quite right or stops working properly down the line, the company stands behind its work. “We make sure the project is done right, but if something goes wrong, we get it fixed.” Herb likens it to buying a new car. “You don’t expect a new car to break down after just a year or two. If I receive a call that something has broken, I don’t even look to see if the warranty has expired. We go out and make the repair.”
Herb likes to stay hands on with projects. “I stay very busy—from meeting with clients to estimating to pricing—it’s a joy to be working closely with the team to deliver a project we can be proud of.”
With more than 40 years in the construction industry and 31 years at the helm of Katt Construction, Herb understands every facet of the industry. “We have a lot of historical data on project costs and offer accurate cost estimates,” he says. The team works closely with architects and governmental bodies to smoothly sail projects through the permitting process.
And when it comes to selecting subcontractors, Herb knows who to call. “I’ve been in the industry so long that I know who to work with. I’ll call in a certain type of sub for a specific project. It’s critical to have subs you can trust,” he says.
Subcontractors that work for Katt Construction are loyal to the company and pitch in to help each other out. “Our subs go the extra mile for us and for the client. That’s why we use them time and time again. And if things go haywire for one sub, another sub will come in and shore us up. Our subcontractors like working for us, and it shows in the quality of work,” Herb says.
The company’s renovation work typically spans from 1,000 up to 20,000 square feet. LCS, a nonprofit that finds employment for youth and adults with disabilities, came to Katt Construction for help with a 12,000-square-foot office renovation. The company was charged with completing all work while the office remained in operation. To accomplish the renovation with minimal disruption, the team performed the work in phases. “We completed the project on time, under budget and without disturbing the work of this important nonprofit,” Herb says.
Another renovation project provided a new home for Kenosha News, a daily newspaper serving southeastern Wisconsin and northeastern Illinois. “The client’s goal was to move into a more efficient, right-sized space, which was more centrally located to its customer base,” Herb says. Katt Construction was brought in as general contractor to build out a large, shared office area totaling 7,000 square feet. “We gutted and rebuilt the office, creating an attractive updated workspace that better serves the customer’s and employees’ needs.”
Contractor of Choice
Herb says that, at an early age, he always imagined he would own his own company. His dad owned a heating business, and Herb remembers making ductwork in the company’s sheet metal shop when he was just a boy. When he was just 15 years old, Herb began working as a laborer for a concrete contractor and at 18, he began working for Racine road-builder James Cape & Sons Co. He gained management experience as he worked his way up in the industry, working for several companies in the industrial sector.
At just 28 years old, Herb formed Katt Construction Corp. “I started out doing residential concrete, including driveways, sidewalks and patios, and working out of my garage,” he says. It wasn’t long before word got around. “I had this crisp new logo on the side of my truck which people began to recognize around town. Business took off pretty fast.”
The company soon became a contractor of choice for large construction companies like A.W. Oakes & Son and James Cape & Sons Co. Every new connection brought the chance for additional work. “I ran into a plant engineer from Jacobson Manufacturing. He asked if I could cap off a floor drain. That was my first industrial job, and it got my foot in the door. For the next 13 years, we did all sorts of work for the company.”
Katt Construction is also known for taking on jobs others wouldn’t want. “We worked in the basement at Ball-Foster Glass Container Co.,” Herb recalls. “The basement is one of the worst places to work—it’s loud, hot and steamy with glass dropping all around you. We installed concrete foundations in that environment.”
Transitioning to General Contracting
In 1993, Katt Construction started moving into general contracting. The company took on large projects like the renovation of the Racine Radisson Hotel. “We converted the Radisson into a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel,” Herb says. The project involved gutting and renovating 125 guest rooms, the lobby and restaurant, as well as making improvements to the exterior, hallways and portico—all while the hotel was in operation.
As the company grew so did offers to acquire the general contractor. Herb sold Katt Construction Corp. in 2016, though he retained the Katt Construction name. “I stayed on as President for a year. I hadn’t intended to start another company, but before long I was getting calls from past clients asking me to bid on projects.”
With his sons, Mitchell, Christian and Nicholas, and longtime Katt Construction carpenter Troy Madore working for the business, Herb formed Katt Construction, LLC in 2018 and began offering the same scope of services as before. “We’ve been very busy with new construction projects for our industrial and commercial customers,” he says. Herb appreciates working alongside his sons and loves the team of professionals he’s assembled. He hired Field Superintendent Frank Nowag shortly after forming the company. “Frank came to us with 23 years of experience as a field superintendent. Clients love him because he’s very personable, detail-oriented and gets projects completed on time.
“We’re very selective about who we hire,” he continues. “Our team looks out for each other and has really gelled,” he says.
Value of Hard Work
Over the years, Herb has enjoyed serving the community. In addition to offering pro bono work for the nonprofit, Love & Charity Mission, Herb has served as past chairman of the Douglas Avenue Business Improvement District and served on the board of directors for local organizations that include the Racine Zoological Society, the River Bend Nature Center, the Racine Literary Council and the Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare - All Saints Foundation. Most recently, he served as district chairman of the Lighthouse District of Wisconsin for the Boy Scouts of America and received the Good Scout Award in 2015 and the Silver Beaver Award in 2019.
Whether serving community or serving customers, Herb knows the value of hard work. “I’ve been around a long time, and I learned this business from the ground up,” he says. “At Katt Construction, we bring our hearts, experience, credibility and innovation to every project. It’s our goal to be among the most trusted construction companies in Wisconsin.”