Kalish Masonry Profile
To emphasize quality over quantity, to do it right the first time, and to be known as the best rather than the biggest.
Addison Kalish founded Kalish Masonry in Middleton, Wisconsin in 2000. Addison first began working in the industry in 1993 at the age of 18. He started off fresh, without a clue of what the field of masonry entailed, but was nonetheless excited to delve into a new challenge. After learning the ropes, he swiftly progressed and found that had a knack for the trade. “It came very naturally to me,” he recalls. He progressed to laying masonry within the first six months of starting, and over time, honed his craft while working for a small residential masonry company.
After a few years, he had a desire to tackle larger projects and to learn more about the industry i.e techniques, materials, and general knowledge, and took a position with a commercial company in southern Wisconsin. Once he made the move, Addison realized just how rewarding masonry could be. After putting in more time, he eventually made the decision to start his own masonry company.
Leading up to Kalish Masonry’s establishment, Addison focused on creating a solid network of industry contracts: general contractors, builders, etc. He gained traction by performing more side work and building credit with his material suppliers. By 1999, when he felt it was time to, “give it a try on [his] own,” he began his business plan. After about a year of organizing, he opened for business, prepared and enthusiastic.
At first, it was just him, and on occasion, his friends could help him out on weekends. After about six months, though, when projects started to accumulate, he began hiring employees. In the following years, both the company size and Kalish Masonry’s reputation continued to grow. Addison gradually took on more complex projects and a higher volume of work and became involved in the industry in ways that he could have never anticipated. To Addison’s humble amazement, Kalish Masonry now stands, over two decades later, as one of the most prominent masonry companies in Southern Wisconsin. “I just can’t believe it”, he remarks, “It’s already twenty years later.”
Kalish Masonry now does work for about 25 general contractors per year, taking on a good mixture of exterior and interior projects, commercial and residential. On the commercial end of the business, they mainly work on apartment buildings, each ranging between 50 and 250 units. They have also built retail centers, convenience stores, and other local establishments. On the residential side, the company works on about 100 homes in a given year.
Oftentimes, Kalish Masonry will be commissioned for larger home projects ranging between two to seven million dollars. These multi-million dream home projects, while typically more complex and time-consuming, are always great for the company. Addison considers homes such as these to be one of Kalish Masonry’s specialties, as they are a great opportunity to show off the talent and skill of their masons through unique masonry details and accents that are outside of the norm.
Another company specialty Addison mentions is his company’s ability to handle clients who are less familiar with the masonry process. “Once we can explain it, then we are good to go,” he says. He’s found that clients are very receptive to learning about the both masonry process in general and the value of choosing higher quality materials that will be a better long-term investment. Kalish Masonry takes pride in the ability to clearly communicate, whether it be with clients building their dream homes, general contractors, or other industry professionals involved in a project.
As the founder of Kalish Masonry, Addison takes a hands-on approach to all company projects. He is very involved in the day to day operations and he makes a point to visit every jobsite. In addition to supervising his own masonry “portion” of a job, Addison is also often consulted regarding larger project issues due to his in-depth building expertise and eye for detail. If, for instance, an architect needs help resolving an issue on the design side of things, they will frequently reach out to Addison for input and advice. In this way, Addison gets the chance to be involved and utilize his extensive knowledge in many areas of the building.
If you visit Addison’s main office, you will find a quote by Benjamin Franklin posted on his wall that reads, “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.” This saying, Addison believes, perfectly captures Kalish Masonry’s work ethic and approach to masonry. “It doesn’t matter if it’s residential or commercial projects,” he explains, “just do it right the first time, every time.”
Involvement in the Industry
Aside from his regular company duties, Addison further involves himself and his company in the industry via an affiliation with several local and national masonry associations. At the local level, he frequently goes to meetings scheduled by organizations like The Middleton Chamber of Commerce and the Madison Area Builders Association to stay informed on events and opportunities in the area. At the national level, he maintains a membership with the Masonry Contractors Association of America (MCAA). “Yeah, obviously, that’s a huge part for us. Very proud of that,” he exclaims about the affiliation. He goes on to express gratitude to the MCAA’s perks programs, which he mentions have greatly benefited Kalish Masonry’s business.
Addison is also involved by attending different masonry events around the country. One event he really looks forward to is the annual World of Concrete Show held every summer at the Las Vegas Convention Center, which he has attended the last 12 years in a row. The World of Concrete Show, on top of showcasing the great aspects of masonry, is a great learning opportunity, he believes. As he comments, “utilizing as many of the training and certification programs as [they] offer, especially the silica, obviously, that’s been just huge in our industry.”
Kalish Masonry also regularly attends the Wisconsin Regional Spec Mix Bricklayer 500, a competition that Addison has had the privilege of judging three times. “The South of 40 events, those were always a great time,” he recalls. He adds that it is great to be there first hand to see the skills of the industry come to life.
As a longtime masonry professional and company owner, Addison believes in always striving to improve, continued education, and networking with other industry professionals; the latter which is unfortunately difficult during the current pandemic. Nevertheless, Addison gives parting advice to “always surround yourself with smart, motivated, and successful people,” and to “never be afraid to ask for help.”
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