A legacy of giving back – Q&A with Jay and Greg Korte

Our company’s history began with a $5 bill a dad gave to his son before putting him on a bus to the Army.

Ralph Korte didn’t make that $5 stretch over the last 65 years. But it was his father’s generosity that inspired his own desire to give back.

One of Ralph’s lifelong mantras sums it up nicely: “You always do the right thing, all the time, and things will go your way.”

That’s rubbed off on today’s generation of company leaders, each of whom leads by example and encourages employees to explore opportunities in the community. In Ralph’s words, it’s important to “give back to what got you to today.”

Jay Korte, Director of Client Relations and Project Executive, and Greg Korte, President of the Las Vegas Division, shared their thoughts on the importance of being involved in a Q&A with United Way.

As a construction company, why do you feel it is so important to be involved in the community?

Jay: Everybody understands that the success of all the individuals in the community leads to the success of the entire community.

Greg: We don’t want to be perceived as some outside, Midwest contractor who came out to reap the benefits of a booming market and developmental area. We want to show that we’re committed to making the community a better place for what it’s provided for us, including our employees.

What is your favorite part about getting involved in the community?

Jay: I like the camaraderie of it all, when people come together for a common cause. People of all backgrounds, political persuasions, etc. are gathered together, and you just work for what you’re there for.

Greg: When you put a group together that wouldn’t normally have a chance to meet, and you’re all aligned with the same purpose and goal, it can’t help but provide a bigger network and connect people to do further good in the community.

How did you get involved with United Way? What inspires you about the organization?

Jay: What I like about United Way, and what I learned about it from being part of the auxiliary board of the Southwestern Illinois Division, is that they truly are a watchdog for the community. Once I got involved, I better understood that they hold agencies to a high standard and make sure the funds are going to worthwhile causes that are in need in the area.

Greg: I’ve been on United Way’s board in the past and learned how United Way pools the efforts of the community together to make for a bigger impact. Locally, our United Way focuses on childhood development and improving the graduation rates in Nevada. The Korte Company values education, especially in the communities we live and build in. It’s valuable that we can support the company’s values as well as local causes.

At The Korte Company, how do you help with local efforts?

Jay: In the Highland, Illinois area, we help a lot with playground construction and educating students. Education has always been a soft spot for our founder, Ralph Korte. He’ll always be the first to tell you that he owes his success to his degree he earned from his military scholarship. 

One of my favorite projects was the construction of a Rotary pavilion at a city park about three years ago. We had a few interns at the time who helped, and I helped enlist the SIUE construction club students to build this pavilion for the community.

Greg: We’ve helped renovate and refresh schools, such as painting the building and trash pickup. We’ve also served food and packaged meals at Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada. And recently, we have completed a cottage renovation at St. Jude’s Ranch for Children in Boulder City, Nevada.

At The Korte Company, we want to work at solving problems from the root of the issue. It helps with the long-term outcomes as opposed to just putting a bandage on it. Because if you don’t tackle the root of the cause, you’re not achieving anything with just a bandage.

What does it mean to you when your employees get involved in community efforts?

Jay: Showing our commitment to the community and being a face in the community is important to me. Being involved in whatever the community’s interests are shows that The Korte Company is there to help and support and grow, not just make money and live quietly. 

There are so many people in the area who want to help their neighbors. I think that always surprises me and is rewarding. There is never a shortage in desire to help each other.

Greg: We have good people who are understanding that it takes a village to provide a good environment and community to live in and thrive in. Hopefully, our employees inspire their own children and so forth.

When I came to Las Vegas in the late 1980s, the population was nowhere near as big as it is now. There are people coming from all parts of the country, and they really embrace the community as their own. People accept Las Vegas as their home community and take initiative to see what they need to do to make it a better community.

In ten years, what do you want the community to say about The Korte Company?

Jay: We are a caring company, and we are personable and fair. We have a respect to our communities that we live in. I hope our employees continue to lead involvement in the community and find their involvement rewarding.

Greg: That we continue to be a leader in the community and across the country, wherever we set up our offices. We are more than just a company that can build buildings. We are a company that is involved in the community, and we have employees who get involved. 

The Korte Company aims to continue involvement in the communities build, and employee involvement is so valuable to our efforts. No matter the task at hand, we’re there to help serve. It’s in our DNA. So, let’s keep on sharing The Korte Company’s give-back mentality by supporting local efforts.

We recognize that we don’t just build buildings. We help build communities. We think if someone can help their neighbors, they should help. Learn more about our community building efforts here.

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