For Kraus-Anderson, construction is about much more than bricks and mortar
“Building buildings and building people.” That heartfelt phrase sums up what many of us feel when we think about the American Midwest: common-sense problem solving, hard work, unyielding kindness, fairness, and community. It’s also the sentiment at the core of Kraus-Anderson’s success as one of the nation’s most innovative and successful commercial general contracting and construction management companies.
Established in 1897, Kraus-Anderson takes an integrated approach to the business of building, blending expertise in development, construction, and real estate leasing and management to deliver memorable projects built with the health of the community — and the planet — at top of mind. With headquarters in Minneapolis, Kraus-Anderson operates offices in Madison, Wis.; Bismarck, N.D.; and in Duluth, Bemidji, and Rochester, Minn., and undertakes consulting and project work from coast to coast.
While construction and development are cornerstones of the KA enterprise, the business does not limit itself to those realms. The KA overall umbrella includes a financing division that supports their in-house development team with underwriting and analysis expertise, enabling them to structure third-party joint ventures.
As property and leasing experts, Kraus-Anderson boasts a management portfolio exceeding 90 commercial properties that make up roughly 5 million square feet of office, residential, retail, and industrial/flex properties. Additionally, KA Insurance provides insurance and risk management solutions in the commercial, design and professional, employee benefits, and personal insurance sectors.
KA has developed and built some of Minnesota’s most memorable and historic buildings, including Goodfellow’s Dry Goods Co., built in 1902. You may not recognize that company name these days, because that flagship store became the Target Corporation. Add to that the first television station in the Upper Midwest; the very first suburban shopping center in the Twin Cities; the first LEED® certified building in Minnesota; and one of the first grocery chains in America to achieve LEED Gold certification … and the list goes on.
The KA approach to success is informed by a regional sensibility that you might call a “can-do” attitude. As construction superintendent Allen Zaffke put it in a recent conversation with BOSS, “Midwestern sensibility is more of a lifestyle than a way of thinking. Every problem presents another opportunity. We go into every situation trying to find ways to make it work better. Every project, every client, every build site, every architectural, structural component has its unique set of challenges, and we roll up our sleeves and do our very best.”
To that end, in 2018 KA established their Building Science Group, an organization within KA that oversees the safe, robust, and impeccable quality construction of every project it undertakes.
Lasting community and building for the long term
Another overarching commitment made by the firm is their championing of sustainable construction. “We are a heavy participant in the U.S. Green Building Council,” Zaffke revealed. The Council describes green building as “the practice of designing, constructing, and operating buildings to maximize occupant health and productivity, use fewer resources, reduce waste and negative environmental impacts, and decrease life cycle costs.”
Two KA employees currently sit on the board of the Minnesota chapter of the USBGC: senior project manager David Kray, LEED AP BD+C, and professional development director Mike Smoczyk, LEED green associate. “One day we’ll reach the day and age where we are all stewards of our communities and of the planet,” Zaffke opined. “While not all of our clients are committed to obtaining LEED certification, we make them aware of green building methods. From using recyclable materials and renewable products to using energy-efficient lighting like motion sensors in public areas that can cut down energy costs, we try to bring it to their attention.”
At present, the firm is working to complete a $72 million mixed-use development in downtown Minneapolis, part of the historic Mills District. The private, high-end Ironclad project — built on the site of an old parking lot — includes a 14-story, 172-unit apartment building, a 3,300-square foot restaurant, a four-story, 65,318 square foot underground garage with space for over 400 vehicles, and the jewel in the development’s crown, an eight-story Moxy hotel. The Moxy, a Marriott brand targeting trendy millennial travelers, will have 10,000 square feet of retail space on the first level.
“This project is one for the books,” Zaffke genially confirmed. “It’s one of the most uniquely shaped buildings in Minneapolis, and it’s owned by a local family, the Kharbandas, who immigrated from India and built their own enterprise here from the ground up.” When the project wraps up this spring, the development will feature “private outdoor terraces, green space with rolling topography, and a pathway through Central Green with a sculptural stone wall separating the apartments from the hotel.”
Staying on the forefront of technology is a KA mandate, from using building information modeling and VR technology to employing drones to map building exteriors. Zaffke’s favorite is an app-based software program that brings the office to the field. “It gives us the capability to hold every document we need on a tablet or phone or both. The app carries upwards of 1,000 pages of spec sheets, for every product, bid, or submittal, for every subcontractor and every discipline on the project all in one file. We have vital information available to all of the trades at all times.”
The KA organization leads with its heart. As champions of diversity, inclusion, and community support, they invest in myriad ways to add value to the lives of their employees and the communities to which they are so deeply connected. In fact, an in-house program, KA Has Heart, frees up workers to volunteer at local nonprofits during the workday. The company also provides monetary and in-kind support to a number of causes, particularly to organizations focused on education and healthcare.
Their charitable endeavors include membership in the Minnesota Keystone Program, in which participating companies contribute a minimum of 2 percent of their pre-tax earnings to address the needs of their local communities. For over five years, KA has given in excess of 5 percent. Hard work. Kindness. Fairness. Community. That’s the Midwestern way — and the Kraus-Anderson way, too.
Founded in 1897, Kraus-Anderson is an integrated construction management and real estate enterprise working independently and in collaboration with a family of companies including insurance and financing operations. Kraus-Anderson, an EEO/AA employer, is headquartered in Minneapolis, MN with regional offices in Madison, WI; Bismarck, ND; and Duluth, Bemidji and Rochester, MN.