Those who live in the Hawkeye State, and even those who just visit, call it Iowa Nice — a reputation the state has earned for doing neighborly things for others. Like holding the door open for strangers, chatting up your grocery store cashier or stopping to help a stranded driver.
Helpful, hardworking and honest — they’re just a few of the traits Iowans are known for. In 1977, Rick Kading was inspired to help more of these humble folks find more affordable homes. And almost a half-century later, Bobcat® equipment is playing a key role in Rick’s mission, start to finish.
Homes for those on honest wages
“It was really a passion my dad had — to help ordinary folks living on honest wages find housing within their means,” says Karie Kading Ramsey, Rick’s daughter and CEO of Kading Properties, a Central Iowa real estate development company that currently manages more than 22 communities across 20 counties.
“Every single property makes a difference in its own way,” says Karie. In addition to providing shelter for Iowans living on modest paychecks, including everyone from young singles and new families to older retirees, Kading homes benefit entire communities by attracting and retaining businesses. More local housing options translates to a larger workforce, which paves the way for additional community-wide development and opportunities.
“Communities like the ones we build make a big difference to employers that rely on keeping their staff only 10 minutes from their job instead of an hour and 10 minutes,” says Karie. “There are studies showing that if workforce housing is available, the overall community is much more successful.”
A new home every 15 days
As you can imagine, efficiently developing modest homes at affordable prices requires a team effort. Karie says that finding people who are passionate about building homes is key to their success. One of those individuals is foreman, Casey Jefferies, a 16-year Kading employee.
“Our mission is providing quality workforce housing that’s affordable,” Casey says. “If you have a mission, it’s easier to get behind it.” Luckily, Casey and his crew employ the brand of equipment known for keeping operators happy and projects on schedule.
“Bobcat equipment is my life,” says Casey. “I work about 2,000 hours a year and I’m in the machines for about 1,500 of those hours. It’s basically my office.”
Casey’s “office” is often one of Kading’s seven Bobcat® T66 compact track loaders, a workhorse in turning out a new front door every 15 days. That pace amounts to about 300 units (homes and townhomes) a year, dramatically different from the only 15 new annual units in the not-so-distant past. “On a typical site, we usually have two machines,” says Casey. “If we are heavy in it, a lot of times there are three operators.”
Kading handles snow removal for most of its properties as well. So the Bobcat machines work hard year-round. “We have 2,000 residents we serve right now and another 300 under construction,” says Karie.
Other Bobcat machines in the Kading fleet include five T595 compact track loaders and a Bobcat UV34 utility vehicle. But the T66 in particular gives Casey and his crew members a versatile tool to work more efficiently:
- Track Options — “The [wide] tracks help you float if the dirt is a little softer. The narrower track has a little bit more PSI and helps pack in the dirt in some spots,” says Casey.
- Comfort — Along with a comfortable seat that reduces bouncing, the ergonomic foot and hand controls help Casey and crew develop an intimacy with the machine that supports them all day, every day.
- Flexibility — From cutting sub-grade to roughing and finishing the concrete grade, to planting trees, to cleaning streets, the T66 loaders help Casey tackle just about any task. He also depends on his assembly of Bobcat attachments, including a tree spade, stump grinder, auger, hydraulic breaker and sweeper, as well as mowers and heavy-duty buckets.
Foundations built on family values
Supporting their communities. Taking care of neighbors. Respecting one another. Kading Properties’ family-owned roots help the developer live out these values every day. And they’re all attributable to the company’s founder, Rick Kading.
“My dad’s dedication is really what made us successful,” says Karie. “He believed that humble, hard-working Iowans deserved comfortable homes on comfortable budgets. And he devoted his entire life to that cause.”
That spirit of hard work and dedication is evident on every jobsite. “We always say if it were easy, everyone would do it,” states Karie. “I think that’s part of the fun for us. We like the challenge.”