Kading Properties’ Philanthropy Has a Personal Touch

From left: Kading Properties team members (and family members) Heather Burns, Rick Kading, Lindsey Opp, Karie Kading Ramsey and Mary Kading at the Brenton Skating Plaza.

Writer: Steve Dinnen

As they ambled along a walking path in Adel, residents expressed an interest in having some lighting there, so they could see better during early morning and evening hours. Along came Kading Properties, which volunteered to fund the installation of lights. In Osceola, residents were searching for a backer of a weekly kids’ night at the local swimming pool. Kading pitched in to fund that, as well. They even threw in free beach balls for the kids.

Call it corporate philanthropy, but with a personal, down-home twist. The Urbandale real estate developer collaborates with each of the 20 communities where it builds and leases housing units to discover ways to improve living experiences.

Last spring, as the pandemic began to tighten its grip on Iowa, Kading ordered meals for all 1,700 people who lease its apartments and townhomes. And the company made sure to buy all the meals from local vendors.

“We wanted to relieve some stress and support local businesses,” said Karie Ramsey, CEO of Kading. The company takes its commitment to food seriously – whenever it builds a new house or project, it feeds all of its construction workers every day they are on the job. That adds up to thousands of meals each year, all spent with local eateries.

Rick Kading launched the business in 1976, aiming to fill what he perceived to be a gap in affordable, leased housing for workers. At first he bought and refurbished homes. These days, the company typically buys land and then builds its own homes; it currently owns 1,700 “front doors,” said Ramsey, including in Boone, Perry, Osceola and Grinnell.

In each town where there is a chamber of commerce, Kading joins it. A company staffer serves as a liaison with each chamber, and between that and tenant feedback, Kading learns of projects it can participate in.

In Osceola, where Kading owns and leases 190 properties (there are 1,900 households in town, so they have a major presence) the company sponsors the farmers market and the annual Easter egg hunt. It has sponsored some “Dutch-themed” projects in Pella, and an art sculpture in Pleasant Hill. The company tries to buy into local school calendars and support parent-teacher organizations in its communities. Pretty simple stuff, some of this. Heartfelt, too, and all aimed at what Ramsey said is “doing something we feel the residents will benefit from.”

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