In 1964, Kate-Lo formed as a Minnesota corporation by a group of private investors in the construction industry. The name Kate-Lo came from combining the first names of two partners wives, Kathleen (Kate) and Lois.
Within a year, Bill LeVahn joined Kate-Lo, with the intention to import and sell Japanese ceramic tile to distributors. Operations moved to Bill’s home in Robbinsdale, MN, where it would remain until 1974. During this time, distribution increased from three states to twenty.
Kate-Lo Minnesota incorporated in 1974 with 13 employees to distribute tile and related products locally. They moved their warehouse and corporate headquarters to Brooklyn Park that same year. The emphasis was placed on providing beautiful showrooms and large stocking inventories for the local construction industry. In the coming years, they would expand their operations to include showrooms throughout the Twin Cities Metro. The employees bought out the original investors with an employee stock ownership plan in 1987.
Four years later, Olympia Tile, one of the largest tile distributors in North America, purchased Kate-Lo from the employees. This was a fantastic opportunity for Kate-Lo to expand not only its product line, but also its reputation in the U.S. market.
In the last decade, we have opened new branches in Des Moines, Iowa and Omaha, Nebraska. We have several showrooms in the Metro, including Plymouth, Burnsville and Roseville and a retail outlet center located in our headquarters in Plymouth.
During the past 35 years, we have seen many changes. The sheer scope and breadth of tile that is available from around the world has changed dramatically, due to ever-evolving technologies in the tile industry. There have been times when we have seen economic downturns to booming construction business. It has been an honor to be a respected leader in our industry and to be a key service partner for our clients.