When you were a kid, did you ever wonder what it meant when you built something with legos, blocks, playdoh or pipe cleaners? That race car, plane or house you made probably didn’t predict what you were going to do for a career—but it did for Jeff Morone, Co-Owner and Operations Manager at Kort Builders.
Jeff knew early on as a kid that he liked to build things, take things apart and put them back together again. He was always fascinated with the way things worked and how they operated. As a kid, he would take apart his toys and put them back together —not in a destructive way—but in a curious way. He had to know how things worked. Now as an adult, and Father to his to three boys, Wesley, age 17, Joseph, age 15 and Vincent, age 13, not much has changed. He now takes apart their toys and puts them back together for the same reasons, but a few things have changed…their toys have gotten much bigger and more complex. You see, Jeff and his boys recently raced go karts for many years, and their current passion now is flying model airplanes. Yes, Jeff takes those apart and puts them back together too (as Tim “the tool man” Taylor would say “more power.”)
While in high school, like most high school kids, Jeff had a part-time job working at a movie theatre where he met Bobby (Bob) Kort—a 16 year old, pimple-faced kid looking for a job and a dream. Since Jeff had worked at the movie theatre for a few years and had seniority, Bob kind of worked for Jeff. So, Jeff had Bob scrape gum off the floors of the movie theatre, clean the bathrooms, mop the floors and taught Bob how to blow all the garbage from the top of the theatre to the bottom of the theater with a huge blower—it was not an easy task. So, after about 6 months, Bob quit the theatre to start his own landscaping business and asked Jeff to come with him, Jeff did, and a life-long friendship was made.
After high school graduation, Jeff went to Purdue University to pursue his degree in engineering. After college, Jeff reunited with his old friend Bob Kort and they both set sights on Tucson, Arizona. By this time, Bob had built a successful painting and landscaping company while in college at Indiana University and decided to build the same business in Arizona, and Jeff went with him. After living in Arizona with Bob, Jeff found a full-time job at Fujitec were he would work for the next 5 years. So, as much as he hated to, he left Bob in sunny Arizona to work in the corporate world at Fujitec.
While Jeff was at Fujitec, he took on various positions in different geographic locations. He was an engineer for 3 years in Cincinnati, OH, moved to Dallas, TX where he became a sales rep and sold the most units over a two-year period—proving to himself and others that an engineer could be a successful sales rep. Then, took an engineering position with Austin Commercial where Jeff worked on projects ranging in value from $2.2 million to $550 million that included a childcare facility, hospital expansion, semiconductor manufacturing facilities, a television broadcast facility and a recycling steel mill.
Throughout the years, Jeff and Bob would keep in touch, and Bob would always ask Jeff to come back to Indianapolis. In 1999, Jeff finally made the decision to move back to Indy where he became partner and co-owner of Kort Builders—and ever since he’s never looked back.
After 16 years with Kort Builders, Jeff feels the company is in the best position it has ever been in as far as potential growth. Jeff stated, “We have the best talent in place that we have ever had. We have the most potential right now to grow.” Although the industry has changed a lot since he started with Kort, Jeff feels the company has made the needed changes it had to make in order to be successful. Bob said, “I’ve known Jeff for over 30 years, his contributions to our business have been invaluable to our stability and success. With Jeff’s engineering mindset and my rainmaking experience, we complement each other well—where Jeff is the ying, I am the yang.”
Jeff is not only a great engineer and has a passion for how things work, he loves to tinker with machines. When asked if he had a hobby, besides, go karts and high-tech remote airplanes, he said “machine work.” (So, you are not alone. I asked the question.) “What is machine work?” As a side hobby, Jeff likes to make raw metal, wood and plastic into machine parts. How he explained it in laymen’s terms was, he needed a new tool to remove a filter cap on his car, so instead of buying a new one, he just manufactured one (see below). With Jeff’s tools, engineering talent and precision in “machine work,” he gets requests for custom parts/work from his friends, family and co-workers. He is very popular.
Proudest Career Moment: Helping to develop Kort Builders to where they are now.
Proudest Personal Moment: Having his children.
Business Advice: Put your effort into your passions and enjoy where it takes you.
Something Interesting About Jeff: He still plays with Legos.