Jay Cates started his on-the-job training with his dad at 15. Initially, Judd had him learning the basics: cleaning up job sites, picking up lumber and doing lots of sweeping. But soon Jay went on to learn the art of carpentry, and the right way to put walls together. Eventually, his father taught him how to read plans and lay out the framing of the house. This experience has proved to be invaluable since Cates works with world renown architects.
As Jay states, “If an architect can draw it, we can build it.”
Today, Jay is the initial contact with clients, and has the responsibility of pricing, bidding and beginning the building process. During each project, Jay makes sure the foundation of each home has been laid out perfectly. Then he is free to move on to begin the next project. But Jay always goes back to see each home after it’s completed. “When I see that finished project, I feel proud of having another job well done,” he says. That, of course, goes to the core of the Cates family work ethic.
Jay was educated at the University of Minnesota, where he was captain of the Gopher hockey team. From his years spent as team captain, he gained his sense of leadership. Jay’s skill as a natural leader, in combination with his early years spent learning how to build homes, has made him a first-rate contractor.
Jay also captains his two rambunctious boys and takes great pleasure in coaching them in hockey and, like his father before him, teaching them how to hunt and fish.
Jennifer Cates Peterson came into the family business in the mid-90’s and arrived armed and able. With a bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Minnesota and as a CPA, Jennifer has made her mark as the communications director and overall manager for the entire Cates team.
Overseeing the finances, keeping projects on track and on time, and serving as the communications liaison for the company, Jennifer handles the daily functioning of the office with enormous energy and success. Because the office functions smoothly and precisely, the rest of the Cates team is allowed to do their jobs. The role each fulfills allows them to be a highly functional team.
“Our clients demand that we know the ins and outs of how to execute highly detailed plans”, says Jennifer. These plans include high-end architecturally designed homes and extensive remodeling and additions. “We strive to make the process of building new or remodeling as easy and comfortable as possible for our clients. By keeping our office and communications functioning at a high level we achieve this.”
Jennifer’s passion is cultivating satisfied clients. “We build homes, but we also build relationships with people. Doing a good job of making our client’s dreams come true is something we are proud of being a part of.”
If Jennifer doesn’t multitask enough running the Cates business operations, she’s busy at home – an old dairy farm complete with sheep, rabbits, horses and pigs – running after identical twin boys.
Jeff Cates first started working for his dad when he was 14, and like his older brother, this experience would be fortuitous. Jeff developed his skill as a builder by putting on his carpenter belt every day and going to work framing. Then when he was finished on site, he’d go to the office for sales meetings.
As he says it, “My father taught me craftsmanship and creative problem solving, and my mother taught me how to be respectful and gracious to others.” This combination is a powerful one and one that makes Jeff so easy to work with.
Jeff believes that building a home is a very personal endeavor, so as the projects manager, he is uniquely qualified for his role in the business. Jeff is intimately involved with the homeowner, and intricately involved with all the subcontractors. He is called upon to talk to everyone – almost daily- for the duration of the build. Jeff deals with all the details and complexities of building or remodeling a home with enormous courtesy, flexibility and resourcefulness.
A University of Wisconsin – River Falls graduate, Jeff captained the hockey team that won the National Hockey, Division 3 championship. Jeff’s natural talent for leadership was finely honed during his college years.
And like the rest of the Cates clan, Jeff is a family man. He and his wife, who run and rollerblade together, have two young boys. Waterskiing with his kids is one of Jeff’s favorite summer past times.
Judd Cates has spent a lifetime building homes. This lifelong pursuit is what has made him a remarkable craftsman and what has given him enormous pleasure and satisfaction.
Now his business has grown to include his children.
“I have a sense of pride about my children. They’re working with me in the business and I couldn’t be more proud of that accomplishment.” In the early days, when he headed the business, he taught his children his craft as they were growing up, by putting them to work at job sites. What he asked from them was “working hard, being honest and making sure they did their job right. I wanted to give them each a strong work ethic.” Through this type of early apprenticeship, he imparted his talent as master craftsman to each of his children.
The combined attributes of honesty, integrity and craftsmanship is the legacy Judd has passed on to his children. It is Judd’s lifelong commitment to these values that lie at the very foundation of Cates Fine Homes. These days, Judd has entrusted the smooth running of the business to his children, and now has time to be a grandfather. He enjoys spending time teaching his 10 grandsons how to hunt and fish. And probably teaches them a few other things too.