Field Day’s Andrea Kathol is paving the way for others in real estate development
Faces of Millwork | Stories • July 30th, 2021
Tags: Community, Design, Entrepreneurship, People
Andrea Kathol gets up at 4:30 a.m. every day, does her morning routine, and then starts her work as the owner of Field Day Development. Her early wake-up time began during her service in the Army. That’s also where Andrea developed her work ethic and close attention to detail.
“I went to bomb school,” Andrea said. “You learn that attention to detail will save your life.”
While overlooking project details won’t actually threaten her staff’s lives, they know that a wrongly-placed comma or decimal point could cost a client – or Field Day itself – thousands of dollars.
Andrea didn’t set out to start her own business. She “barely” graduated high school before going into the Army and said she never dreamed of having much of her own, let alone a thriving company.
“I went to bomb school. You learn that attention to detail will save your life.”
After the military, Andrea returned to Omaha to attend graduate school in public administration. She earned a HUD scholarship, which funded her work as a graduate assistant in the City planning department and in a real estate nonprofit in Council Bluffs. Through her master’s program and graduate work, she began working on development projects.
In 2009, Andrea was approached by an Omaha architecture firm that had clients who needed her services. The firm recognized Andrea’s skills and potential. They funded her company with a zero-interest loan, telling her simply: pay us back when you can. She proudly paid them back years ago.
“I wasn’t entrepreneurial. But I learned that you could become entrepreneurial,” Andrea said.
Field Day Development now has four employees and is located in the Mastercraft building in Millwork Commons. Over time, Andrea and her team have taken on larger, more complex projects, building a reputation for honesty and timeliness – qualities not always characteristic of the development industry.
Field Day’s clients include nonprofits, businesses, developers, government agencies, philanthropic organizations, and economic development groups. Andrea describes Field Day’s services as “soup to nuts,” meaning the company takes a client through a project from the day they purchase a building and have a vision for it to the day they walk in the door of their finished space.
The Field Day team also helps clients with budgeting, tax credits, and building out teams that may include attorneys, engineers, architects, contractors, and accounting firms.
“Our diverse knowledge of all project types definitely sets us apart,” Andrea said. “We’ve worked on everything from an art gallery to a homeless shelter. From Class A office space to movie theaters to banks. We have a deep knowledge base across our team. We even have an environmental scientist in our office. We do passion projects – stuff we really care about. And we’re focused on the urban core.”
One of the urban core projects Andrea and her team have been working on is Millwork Commons. She got involved in the project after her friend and colleague, PJ Morgan Real Estate CEO Ryan Ellis, approached her to do a financial analysis for the Ashton building. Ryan was trying to help the then-owner sell the Ashton, and they needed to figure out a use for the enormous building that would make the most financial sense. Andrea came up with several different models. The conclusion? It needed to be a historic project and an office building. Or, exactly what it is today.
“This neighborhood has been a dream my whole career. These are some of the bigger historic buildings left and I didn’t want to see them crumble. I’m a preservationist and this is what we dream of.”
“This neighborhood has been a dream my whole career,” said Andrea. “These are some of the bigger historic buildings left and I didn’t want to see them crumble. I’m a preservationist and this is what we dream of. I also love taking old, vacant industrial land and making it useful again.”
When she thinks about the future, Andrea hopes that the neighborhood will be a place where all people are comfortable regardless of income, race, or other differences. She is passionate about creating a neighborhood that is an extension to North Omaha.
As Andrea’s experience, skills, and team have grown, so have the size and scope of Field Day’s projects. In 2021, the team is working on a 20-acre project in Council Bluffs, the park in Millwork Commons, and two large nonprofit projects.
Giving back to the community is also important to Andrea, and she focuses her giving on organizations that support and provide opportunities for women and people of color. Andrea serves on the Spark CDI board of directors and is known to load up a truck of supplies for people in need during difficult times. In 2019, she was recognized for her community and industry leadership at the Women’s Center for Advancement Tribute to Women event. She has also coached many small business owners, recognizing that younger entrepreneurs in particular need help to build their businesses.
“Overall, promoting women is my biggest goal,” she said.
At home, Andrea is a wife and stepmom. She splits her time between Omaha and Alabama, where her family is based, and where her wife, Amanda, works as a nurse. Andrea is the proud owner of a Volkswagen bus and takes family and friends on frequent rides.
“My mom always had fresh fruit cut up and things like homemade cookies, so I’m making sure the kids have those kinds of memories,” she said. She also enjoys playing with the family’s new French bulldog puppies, Grace and Ruthie, aka RBG.
“RBG was once asked when there will be enough women on the Supreme Court. And she said ‘when there are nine.’ I feel that way about development, too – about women and people of color, too.”
The late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg – Ruthie’s namesake – comes to mind when Andrea thinks about her male-dominated field and how to continue to increase the number of women working in real estate development. Early in her career, she didn’t feel as confident as the men in her industry, but over time she learned to recognize that she’s good at what she does and that her skills are highly valuable. She wants to make sure other women feel the same way.
“RBG was once asked when there will be enough women on the Supreme Court. And she said ‘when there are nine,’” Andrea said. “I feel that way about development, too – about women and people of color, too. Women are better at it than men. They can multitask and think critically. I’m happy there are more women in it now than when I started out, but we have a ways to go.”
And while her days of defusing bombs are long behind her, Andrea’s clients – including Millwork Commons – know they are in safe hands with Andrea and the team at Field Day Development. For more information, visit fielddaydev.com.