For architect James Kratzat, forty years of multiple projects in numerous cities comes down to one thing: the customer.
“It can be easy to forget that the reason you have a job is because you have a customer who has a need,” says Kratzat, president/treasurer of MSKTD & Associates in Fort Wayne.
Kratzat was one of three partners who started the architectural firm in 1978. He and his colleagues share the same philosophy about customers, and anyone who visits their office on Magnavox Way will see their motto printed on the entrance way doors:
Because the customer has a need, we have a job to do.
Because the customer has a choice, we must be the better choice.
Because the customer has sensibilities, we must be considerate.
Because the customer has an urgency, we must be quick.
Because the customer is unique, we must be flexible.
Because the customer has high expectations, we must excel.
Because the customer has influence, we have the hope of more customers.
Because of the customer, we exist!
“That says everything about why we exist and why we’re even here,” says Kratzat. “You need to be quicker. You need to be more thorough. You need to be more responsive. It says all of those things.”
As Kratzat and his partners shaped their firm over the years, they chose to focus on four areas of work. First and foremost, they wanted to be local.
“We want to be involved in our community. We want to be involved with making the zoo even more engaging, making the Grand Wayne Center even better, working with local companies to change the face of Fort Wayne.”
The second and third areas are statewide projects in the health care industry and higher education.
“We have an office in Indianapolis that does a lot of work for IU Health as well as for a number of hospitals through Community Health Systems (CHS), including Lutheran Hospital and Kosciusko Community Hospital,” Kratzat says. “With higher education, we’ve done a lot of projects for Indiana University, Purdue University, Ball State University, Manchester University and Ivy Tech Community College.”
The fourth area of concentration is on a national level for food processing facilities and hygienic design.
“We designed the facility for Chobani in Idaho, which is the largest yogurt plant in the world. We’ve also designed plants for Edy’s Ice Cream and Marzetti’s. Five of the facilities we designed were named ‘Food Plant of the Year.’”
Kratzat recognizes that the architectural industry is unique. He modestly explains that a majority of its work comes from referrals and repeat customers.
“We’ve been told that the quality of our designs is high; that we listen to what our clients want and need and provide for those wants and needs; we’ve been told that our drawings are thorough and comprehensive. Our services include electrical, mechanical and architectural design as well as civil and structural. This, in turn, produces a very complete design for our client and communicates the building’s intended design to the contractor to build without having a lot of problems in the field.”
Kratzat says MSKTD is a “one-stop shop” because everything and everyone you need to have your building designed is all under one roof.
“We have an entire team work on each project, which, in addition to the architect, would include interior design and landscape design, as well as structural, mechanical, electrical and civil engineers. It’s usually the architect who has the most contact with the customer, but the whole team works together to make the project happen.”
Every customer’s needs are unique and so is their image, explains Kratzat.
“Take the Ash Brokerage building we designed for downtown Fort Wayne. The owner, Tim Ash, works for clients all over the country. He wanted a building that would be just as comfortable being in the middle of a big city as it would in the middle of Fort Wayne. That was important to him. Another example is Franklin Electric. Its goal is to provide fresh water to the world. It is the biggest submersible pump company in the world. So, we designed their building to have a pond in the front that recirculates the water from their research and development with fountains that express water. It’s just really cool and emphasizes what the company is about.”
Kratzat says MSKTD has been fortunate to work on a lot of impressive and iconic buildings.
“You know when you’re in a well-designed building. People seek out cool places. I think architecture doesn’t just provide space, it expresses space and provides space that’s good to work in and live in. Architecture is more than just a building.”
While Kratzat enjoys looking back at past accomplishments, he doesn’t like to dwell on them. Instead, he is always looking ahead and asking, “What’s next?”
“Some firms open up and stay open for many years, but then close when the owner retires. Our goal from the beginning was to keep the firm going and to give it a long life, even after the founding partners were no longer here. So, for me, what’s next is to bring in the right young people to keep up the energy level of the firm. It means getting better in the four markets of work we do and to constantly look at who runs your business and how you look at your business. Our industry is always changing and there are new challenges along the way. We are ready to take on what’s next.”
Address: 1715 Magnavox Way Fort Wayne, Indiana 46804
Phone: (260) 432-9337
Years in Business: 40
Number of Employees: 80
Products & Services: MSKTD offers clients a full range of comprehensive design services, including in-house architects, interior designers, mechanical/electrical/civil/structural engineers, estimators and landscape architects.