Robert Kort started painting houses and doing landscaping while at Indiana University in the late ’80s and early ’90s. He never really stopped.

In 1991, he added carpentry, remodeling and room additions. By 1995, he transitioned the company entirely into commercial jobs because he preferred business-to-business work. Over the past few years, Kort Builders has done, or continues to do, work for Ossip Optometry, Melting Pot restaurants, Dunkin’ Donuts, Simon Property Group, Milhaus and Verizon corporate.

Kort Builders is by far the oldest of this year’s fastest-growing Indianapolis-area private companies, and Kort said the reason for the new burst of growth is the company’s bouncing back from the recession. At the lowest point, Kort’s revenue plunged 70 percent.

“So we got small and used a lot of our cash up that we had saved,” he said. “We had the cash to survive.”

And when the economy began to rebound, Kort was poised and ready.

“We didn’t know when,” he said. “We just knew it was going to. We made sure systems were good and when we rehired people, we hired the right people. We made sure our culture was prepared and ready, over-served what clients we had left, and made sure the clients that were no longer growing knew they were ready to go.”

They also did a lot on the marketing side—sending out newsletters to current and prospective clients, “letting them know we’re still here and we survived it. When it starts coming back and you have projects for us, we’re going to be eager to do your projects.”

“It’s humbled us,” Kort said, “to give not just great customer service and value, but phenomenal customer service and value.”

Source: "9 Fastest Growing Firms in Indiana", IBJ