People through the Years
January 14, 2020
I was fortunate to be a part of starting our firm in August of 1978. I was definitely young and green, not long from my college years, but very excited to make this work. With our sawhorses, plywood drafting tables and a brand new IBM typewriter, our annual budget of $100,000 seemed astronomical at the time. Al Sheldon, the “S” in MSKTD and our first president, taught me what accrued wages meant. And, I’ve learned a lot over these past 42 years…a lot!
In architectural school (go Ball State!) I was taught architectural design, history, drawing and the rest — I was not taught business. As it turns out, architecture and engineering is a business. This came as a surprise to me and a definite learning experience. With the help of a great group of partners and consultants such as our accountants, attorneys, insurance agents and bankers, we run a great business. A well-run business gives our staff great confidence and drive to do their jobs knowing that we are doing ours. A good salary and bonus along with a stable work environment is a staple at MSKTD. I’ve not mentioned the importance of clients… hey, without them we have nothing to do. I will cover my thoughts on our amazing clients in a future blog. Right now, I’d like to dwell on our people and my thoughts concerning our internal reasons for success. People make the difference.
As a business, we have been very successful. We have grown to a staff of over 75 people and have two offices now. My personal progression has grown as well. There may be an “I” in Jim, but with MSKTD’s success, I have learned there really is no “I.” I have found that without very dedicated people, I am nothing. Developing projects large and small always takes a team. I have found no buildings that are all “me.” That being said, one of my greatest joys over these past 42 years is seeing our people buying houses or cars, getting married, growing families, and even seeing their kids graduate from college. We have supplied a livelihood, career and work-life for many, many people. Our management group makes all this happen and I get to be a part of it.
Of course, we’ve had wonderful people leave us for various reasons over the years. I used to take it personally when someone left — after all, we are the best place to work! I then realized people have other needs or objectives, and they need to have the opportunity to pursue them. And fortunately, several of them have actually returned to us!
MSKTD’s overall commitment from staff has been overwhelming. In particular, we have 6 important people who run our front desk, accounting, projects, and marketing. Until Nicki C joined our Indy office last year, the rookie of this group had been with MSKTD for over 30 years. Internally, they run the show. Our architects and engineers depend on them to keep us consistent and responsive. These women are the backbone of our firm. Thank you, Jackie, Barbie, Nikki, Jan, Lisa, and Nicki C!
I am in the process of selling my stock in MSKTD and Gary Voirol is now our President – only our third. I am working a bit less these days, but still working. It seems like only yesterday that I was drafting on that plywood desk on sawhorses and having Al accrue my wages! Our objective from the start was to develop a firm that would move on and not be about any individual. Well, that’s happening now, and in some ways, it hurts. I didn’t expect that. I have been a part of building something that I hope will continue with other people helping MSKTD supply houses, cars, college educations and the rest for our staff. My wish is that by running a good business with great professionals, it will give our clients great confidence in hiring MSKTD to work for them — and I hope that when you see me on the streets you’ll say, “Hey, there’s Jim, he helped start a great company!”
Wishing you well until next time,
Jim Kratzat, Founding Principal, MSKTD & Associates