In 1951, Clayton O. Katski founded Bay Electric out of his home in Tracey’s Landing, MD. Clayton ran a small but profitable business which employed various family members including his brothers, Harold and Alfred. Clayton was a believer in hard work and rewarding employees based on their performance. He felt so strongly about this that he helped form an organization in Anne Arundel County named Associated Builders and Contractors (“ABC”), which later became a National organization. Today, ABC has over 25,000 members – the Katski family takes great pride in knowing that they helped create ABC!
In the 1960s, Clayton’s son, Robert H. Katski (“Butch”), worked for his father’s business while also attending Anne Arundel Community College (“AACC”). Unfortunately, in 1965, tragedy struck the Katski family when the office burned down in a fire. Everything was lost – including the majority of the assets of Bay Electric. Insurance proceeds were insufficient and Bay Electric was forced to file for insolvency. Clayton was devastated, both on a personal and professional level. Somehow, though, he found the strength to persevere and went to work for Drake Electric as a General Manager. Butch did his best to remain strong, as well, by continuing his courses at AACC and also working at Drake Electric (“Drake”) as an Assistant Estimator. As Butch will tell you, it was here that he learned the lessons of the trade from experts like Frank Bowen and Eddie Sheriff – lessons whose benefits would prove immeasurable down the road. Father and son were also working together again – little did they know this would be a theme that would repeat itself for decades to come.
While Clayton and Butch continued to work hard at Drake, Butch was also busy in his personal life — working on his dream of starting his own family. On February 24, 1968, Butch married his high school sweetheart, Jo Ann Hodges, in Owensville, MD. In November of the same year, Butch was drafted and joined the National Guard. He left home to serve his country for 6 months, returning in May 1969. Upon his return, Butch resumed his job at Drake, working side by side again with his father. Butch enjoyed the work he was doing at Drake, but was finding that it wasn’t the challenge he was looking for — he had the heart and spirit of an entrepreneur and wanted to strike out on his own. Butch approached his father and told him that he was leaving Drake – he asked Clayton to come with him so that they could continue working together, but this time in their own family business. A thrilled Clayton accepted and in November 1969 they signed their first job with IKM Custom Homes.