Founder of the AAA Kartak family of companys.
By Joan Kartak Adams.
Born 1930 to family of Swedish immigrants.
Father: Justin Sjohland, whose name was changed to Justin Petersen when they landed at ___ Island, the great melting pot in New York. His family settled in Minnesota in a Swedish community.
Jerry grew up during the great depression. His father died, and Jerry's mother remarried Dr. Stanley Kartak who adopted Justin, and changed his adopted son's name to Jerry Kartak, giving the family a fresh start in Seattle.
In 1956 Jerry and three of his brothers started a glass company in Seattle glazing windows in newly constructed buildings. The freshly started business encountered various difficulties, lots of broken glass, and a host of challenges. It wasn't long before the brothers left to do other things, but Jerry refused to give up.
In those very early years, since I was Jerry's oldest child, I helped him by answering phones and assembling mirror rosettes for my hard working father. Jerry continued on through many booms and busts, most notably the Boeing bust of 1970.
Remember the billboard reading: "Will the last one to leave Seattle please turn out the lights?" The company founder somehow struggled through those difficult years building his business on what he called: "Immediate Service." He noticed that it was very hard to get materials in a timely manner, and began to stock an ever growing inventory of products his customers needed, so he could surprise them with immediate delivery. His clients loved it, and he developed a very loyal base of building contractors.
More children arrived, and all helped one way or another in the growing little business, including Peter, Mary Jo, Kevin, Kristin and John. Kevin and Mary Jo remember assembling mirror rosettes for a penny a piece and saving enough to buy their first bicycles.
"It was fun when we got the rare opportunity to go to work with Dad when we were kids," Kevin shared with me, one day while we were reminiscing, "Dad loved to explain his work, and demonstrate his inventions to make things more efficient. He always took me out for a hamburger lunch, and he must have worked a much shorter day than normal, just to spend some time with me and give Mom a much needed break."
Jerry invented a patent pending product he designated "Windo-Bar." At that time he found himself running three businesses, and his wife was pregnant again. It was more than he could handle. He sold "Windo-Bar" to an investor who went on to market the product very successfully all across the nation.
Many years later, Jerry took his wife Joanne on his first month-long vacation, leaving the business in the hands of his trusty staff. Upon his return, he was shocked to find that he had made money while he was away. With the blue eyed twinkle in his Swedish eye, he began to make a plan to pass on the family business while enabling himself to retire. Jerry began grooming his son Kevin in 1983 to run the family business. After two years, Jerry took the plunge and promoted Kevin to general manager in 1985, while announcing his semi-retirement. Gradually stepping further and further away over the next five years, he managed to retire fully leaving the reins firmly in the hand of Kevin.
Today Jerry lives in Arizona with his wife of 57 years, who also once served as President of AAA KARTAK. They enjoy a great life with friends, golfing, mountain climbing and volunteering on projects for Habitat for Humanity . To this day, Jerry is always there to give Kevin counsel sharing his wisdom and experience and often comes to Seattle to promote AAA KARTAK at the Seattle Home Show. He is very proud to have several family members working in the business, including his first helper, me! I serve as Public Relations Ambassador for the growing firm. Dad also takes great pleasure to see his grandchildren working as part of a team of really terrific people (including, I am proud myself to say, my own son Geran) as his legacy of fast service and craftsmanship is carried on.