Builder/contractor of the year: Fred Kolkmann Tennis & Sport Surfaces
Just because tennis courts are built according to a set of construction guidelines, it doesn’t mean they are cookie-cutter projects. Nobody knows this better than Fred Kolkmann of Fred Kolkmann Tennis & Sport Surfaces of Grafton, Wis., TI’s 2013 Builder of the Year.
Kolkmann believes there is no such thing as a “typical” project or customer, and it is this philosophy that guides his work. “Our strength is finding out what people want. You need to know what’s right for them because when we’re done, they are the ones who will be playing on it and have to be happy with it.”
Kolkmann has been in the industry for over 45 years. He routinely travels a four-state area to give educational presentations about tennis court design, construction, maintenance and repair. In addition, he is a Certified Tennis Court Builder and an active member of ASBA. “I’ll meet people who are thinking of getting into the industry,” he says, “and I always tell them they need to join the ASBA. It’s helped me in so many ways.”
Sports facility construction is always evolving, he notes. “A lot of places are asking for 10 and Under Tennis lines because they want the USTA funding. I’m also seeing an uptick in people asking for pickleball courts. It’s our job to keep them all happy.” — Mary Helen Sprecher
Tips for Success
- Evaluate each customer’s needs. You want to try to find the right mix and match for them.
- No economic downturn is permanent. “You learn to tighten your belt and make a plan to get through,” Kolkmann says.
- Do educational, not promotional, sessions. “We practice not to preach or talk about our projects; we do an educational type of seminar and people appreciate that.”
See all articles by Mary Helen Sprecher
About the Author
Mary Helen Sprecher is the managing editor of Sports Destinations Management Magazine, a niche business-to-business publication for planners of sports travel events, in addition to being an RSI Contributing Editor. She is the technical writer for the American Sports Builders Association and works as a newspaper reporter in Baltimore City.