Nicole Peters’ finest hour strikes when the phone at her desk rings and a Korte employee on the other end says, “My device quit working.”
Not too long ago, a plea came in from a colleague who couldn’t get their printer to work. It soon became obvious to Nicole that she needed to remove a pre-existing printer first, a seemingly easy process that took an unexpected twist.
“It wouldn’t let me remove it.”
So she deployed an age-old bit of IT wisdom: When in doubt, restart. And that did just the trick.
That sort of all-too-simple moment never fails to make her chuckle.
“I don’t know what happens in that restart on a computer. But it works.”
Keeping Korte’s operations running smoothly
Ask Nicole to describe her job and the first words out of her mouth are, “Oh my.”
It’s straightforward but difficult: She’s here to provide technical support to Korte employees — the kind of support that enables us to work smarter through the critical technology we depend on every day.
“Everybody in the company, if they have issues, they call a 200-line or my extension directly and I help them with any computer issues, any printer issues, basically any issue they have. We want our superintendents, quality control, our SSHOs, to have all the equipment they need so they can get the job done as soon as possible because The Job is the Boss.”
It’s her responsibility to field inquiries and tickets from Korte people across the country. As part of the Technologies Team, Nicole addresses almost every issue imaginable issue as quickly as possible, aiming for fixes within a week.
Her job would have required countless hours and travel costs in the old days. But thanks to remote connectivity capabilities, video calls and a decade of experience with Korte’s computer systems, she can solve it all from her Highland office.
And even though her work occurs almost exclusively behind a screen, it’s key for maintaining no-fail operations on job sites from Florida to Oregon.
Without access to programs like Procore, Cloud Job View and even just email, production can plummet and grind to a halt. And while there are very real efficiency and cost risks to technological disruptions, the toll of failing technology is also emotional. People get stressed. They get frustrated.
But Nicole handles it all, and she makes it look easy.
“I just swallow it and go with the flow. There are so many programs that I explore, and I know what to do if there’s an issue. I know how to fix it. I like to get my hands dirty.”
Nicole’s role requires patience and diligence. And she has plenty to offer — she credits growing up on a dairy farm for that. It’s that very background that made her such an appealing candidate when she first came to The Korte Company nearly ten years ago.
The IT department wasn’t actively hiring when she first sent us her resume. But shortly after picking up a different job at Allsup in Belleville, she got an email from Barry Kauhl, asking if she was still interested in Korte.
There was just one problem: She was scheduled for elbow surgery in two days.
“I showed up to the interview a week later with my arm in a sling. I’m thinking to myself, ‘Ain’t no way I’m getting this job. There is no way. No way.’”
She definitely made an impression. A few days later, Barry called with a job offer.
Her strong work ethic finds its roots in childhood. Raised on a St. Rose century farm that’s been in her family for more than a hundred years, she worked for the family’s dairy operation, which supplied milk to Prairie Farms Dairy.
The rhythms of farm life became ingrained in her routine. The responsibility. The resourcefulness. The day-in, day-out dedication.
“When I was younger, I got up in the morning to milk and then I milked again at night. And that was all by hand, before the robots actually started.”
Shortly after she started working for The Korte Company in 2014, her family embraced modernization by installing milking robots. This innovation was so remarkable that Prairie Farms encouraged open houses for the public, and even Ralph Korte attended.
“He enjoyed it for sure. He still asks me about it, if I still farm, how the robots are going.”
Nearly ten years later, they are. Today, the family’s two milking robots handle 60-65 cows, multiple times a day.
“Some cows go to the robot anywhere between three and four times a day. We get 1,150 gallons of milk per day.”
Her brother eventually took over the operation from their parents, but it’s still very much a family-run operation. Nicole even enlists her daughters, eight-year-old Quinn and five-year-old Audrey. All in all, her family cares for 120 cows on their expansive grounds, where a 25-mph tractor ride from end to end takes a full hour.
While her career has evolved and thrived at Korte, Nicole’s roots on the farm remain steadfast.
“I will take vacation days here to go help my family farm just because one, my bosses let me do that, and I still love that part of me.”
Perhaps more than anything, what she loves about going back to the farm is the satisfaction of the work.
Whether it’s a calf bawling for a bottle or a stray cow that needs bringing in, the solutions are concrete. It’s energizing. And then she brings that same solutions-oriented mindset back to Korte.
“I am a very helpful person. I can’t let anything go. I don’t know. I just can’t. I’ve been raised a hard worker and I think I have it in my blood that if something’s wrong, I need to get it done.”
Bringing connectivity to construction sites
Every month, Nicole reviews emails announcing upcoming projects. Every assignment requires collaborating with project managers to understand the budget for Internet access, manpower requirements and the number of project trailers that will need connectivity.
“If a person has to have a computer, printer and an iPad to see project documents or contracts, then the job needs Internet. Superintendents can’t get all that without an IT department.”
This task is most challenging on Department of Defense projects. Her roster includes the K-46A Fuel Maintenance Hangar at Tinker AFB in Oklahoma, Virtual Warfare Center Operations Facility at Nellis AFB in Nevada, the Joint Simulation Environment Facility at Edwards AFB in California and more.
Here, security measures and documentation demands reach their peak. The process can be time-consuming, often taking three months or more.
“That is a big hurdle for me because you have to talk to the government and get superintendents involved and everything. Plus you have to get Charter or Comcast on base. Whenever I do get those job sites Internet, I’m happy.”
Happy because it’s a win. Happy because she can then shift to other tasks — or anything else her bosses Danny Kapp and Barry Kauhl throw her way.
“They have both taught me to think outside the box.”
And every time they give her a project, she does.
It all comes back to the farm
The first thing Nicole noticed about The Korte Company was how much family matters. She’ll soon celebrate ten years with the company. But loyalty is easy when it lines up with your values.
“They’re very family-oriented. Family always comes first here.”
The culture offered the foundation Nicole and her husband, Eric, needed to nurture a fulfilling life for their family, which includes two spunky little girls and, in Nicole’s words, a “very spoiled, very lazy” black lab named Trigger.
“He goes shed hunting, but otherwise he stays at home. He is wonderful with my children. He lets them step on him so they can get onto the couch. He’s a very, very good dog.”
During deer season, Trigger stays home, and Nicole, Eric, Audrey and Quinn hang deer cams together at their hunting grounds in Washington County.
“I love that we do that. And we have yet to bring our children deer hunting yet, but Eric will sit with me until I get my deer. I usually tag out the first morning. And I know it’s not disgusting to gut a deer or whatever — I can do it — but he will do it for me. That’s just the nice husband he is.”
Church keeps them busy, too. Nicole especially likes volunteering to help with church picnics. Between family, church and work, Nicole is a busy woman.
But she always makes time for the farm. After all, that’s where it all started.
“I really do love my farm life. There’s the saying, you can take the girl off the farm, but not the farm out of the girl.”
That’s Nicole. She’s not milking at dawn and dusk anymore, but she loves showing her girls how to bottle-feed the calves. And her favorite chore is driving the tractors, combine and hauling hay in the summers.
“Being a farmer, you have to get the job done, otherwise you’re not going to feed the people or you’re going to have dead animals. It’s something that you just can’t sit on.”
It’s honest work. And it’s an identity she brings back to Korte, where she saves the day (and tracks down a few passwords or two) for her construction counterparts in the field. Technology is an industry cornerstone that helps us all work smarter.
And Nicole, she makes it possible to Build Smart.