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posted: 10/7/2017 6:00 AM

OHi is a new name, but company has a long history

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  • John Kautz, right, and his nephew, Nick Kautz Jr., founded OHi, short for "Our Home Improvement," a home remodeling company based in Elk Grove Village.

    John Kautz, right, and his nephew, Nick Kautz Jr., founded OHi, short for "Our Home Improvement," a home remodeling company based in Elk Grove Village.
    Courtesy of OHi LLC

  • Ray and Kathy Kautz with their sons.

    Ray and Kathy Kautz with their sons.
    Courtesy of Kautz family

 
By Jean Murphy
Daily Herald Correspondent

In the Northwest suburbs, the Kautz family name has long been synonymous with carpet and all types of flooring.

Now, the family has expanded into the home remodeling business, as well.

The first three generations of the large family were carpet layers; the fourth ventured into other types of flooring, as well. Now, one member of the fourth generation and his nephew (a fifth-generation guy) have teamed up to do home remodeling and additions, kitchens, baths, basement finishing, window installations and window coverings, as well as home and office floor coverings.

After years of doing business from a Buffalo Grove storefront as Carpets by Ray & Son and later Home by Ray & Son, John Kautz and his nephew, Nick Jr., moved to a facility in Elk Grove Village in 2014 and opened OHi LLC, a full remodeling business with an 8,000-square-foot showroom.

"We do everything from kitchen and bath remodels, additions (including second-floor additions to ranch homes), window installations and home decor like window coverings, flooring and even bedding and pillows," said John Kautz, OHi's president. "We are a one-stop shop now."

"A woman called the other day and she wants her condo gutted and redone -- but she doesn't have time to go from showroom to showroom and shop," he said. "She came to us because she knows that she can have us do it all and come to one place to make her choices.

"If my father and grandfather were still alive, they would be amazed at what we have become," John added.

In fact, the firm is even initiating some fun family events this fall to draw people to their showroom at 106 Garlisch Drive, Elk Grove Village.

For instance, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 14, OHi will hold its first Fall Festival, which will include food, pumpkin carving and more for all ages. Customers may register online at www.contactohi.com to win a bath remodel worth $25,000, but they must be present at the 1:30 p.m. drawing to win, John said.

OHi, which stands for "Our Home Improvement," may be a relatively new firm, but it has a lengthy history in the Chicago area.

Ray Kautz, John's father, started installing carpet for other carpet dealers during the 1930s, working with his father and grandfather. In fact, they installed carpet in the Chicago Theatre, the Drake Hotel and even at "A Century of Progress," the 1933 World's Fair which was held in Chicago. Of course, they installed carpeting in private residences and commercial buildings, as well.

During the 1960s, Ray Kautz decided to open his own retail carpet store in Mount Prospect in order to better support his wife and young sons. The family lived just to the east in Des Plaines and walked to work, John recalled.

"We all learned the business from my father and as young men, worked as carpet installers," he continued.

During the early 1970s, Ray expanded to a second store in Buffalo Grove. One brother chose to manage that store and then, when their parents retired to Florida in 1980, the other five brothers left installing and became salesmen. The business gradually expanded into other types of flooring besides carpeting and even into some home remodeling.

When his oldest brother, Dick, became ill with cancer in 1987 and died, the Ray Kautz and his wife, Kathy, came home to help and eventually moved back to Illinois and once again became active in the family business. In fact, John believes it kept them alive since they both lived well into their 90s.

"They sold the Mount Prospect store to my brother, Mike, and it is now known as Michael Kautz Carpets and Designs, and I took over the Buffalo Grove store, which my nephew and I recently expanded into a full-service home remodeling firm and moved to Elk Grove," he explained.

"We employ designers, product specialists, project managers and tradesmen, all in-house, to ensure the highest quality control possible with minimal subcontracting," the OHi website proclaims.

"I really enjoy what we do. When I wake up in the morning, I wonder how quickly I can get to work because I enjoy it so much," John said.

And, he said, they try to make the process fun for the clients, as well. "I assure them that I will be here if something goes wrong and I charge them a fair price, because we want to continue to work in this community as long as we can," he said.

For more information, call (847) 541-4848 or visit www.contactohi.com.

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