Market Director of Education
Katelin B. Happy
Lives: Georgetown, KY
Family: Married with 4 Kids
Graduated: Georgetown College
Hobbies: Watching horse racing at Keeneland, her kids playing sports, and University of Kentucky sports
Fun Fact: Her hometown is home of the famed Chained Rock-a; giant 101 foot chain that holds large boulders in place, “protecting” the city from being crushed.
Q & A
Tell us about your experience in working with educational institutions on creating spaces?
I have worked in the higher ed space for 15+ years and have been on the food service side the whole time. I have worked for furniture manufacturers, food brokers, been inside sales, outside sales but always in higher education and hospitality.
I am a member of NACAS, NACFUS and ACUI. I attend 15+ trade shows a year and love the client interactions and relationship building at these events.
What are some of your favorite completed projects?
We just finished Kendall’s Brasserie at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, California. It is a beautiful space. We worked closely with the design firm to make recommendations on durable finishes as well as to help value engineer the project. This kept the intended look and feel but also kept the budget in view.
Completing all the dining areas for Northwestern University and several for North Carolina A&T have also been favorites. These facilities make me want to go back to college.
What has made you successful in your job?
I hate talking about myself but here goes. I am a relationship builder at my core. Being honest, open and communicating has helped me build relationships which has translated into happy clients and a very high % of repeat business. I stay engaged from start to finish with my projects and try to avoid surprises. With this type of work, there are so many moving pieces and parts that no matter how good at juggling you are, something will be delayed, damaged, or misplaced and tackling these head-on is the only way for me.
One client summed it up by saying “I have known you for 6 years and I never feel like you are pushing your “sales talk” on me.” A great compliment.
Name some trends you are seeing in the industry?
Ha! Supply chain issues are a major trend at the moment. The only reasonable way to tackle these issues is communication with the client.
We are also seeing our higher education clients going back to adding community spaces and gathering spaces into their dining areas. Coming out of the pandemic some people believed more individual space would be incorporated into food service design, but human nature is to be together. Clients have told me that no matter what they do with design, students always find a way to gather together. It is important to design spaces that encourage students to not only stay on campus but keep them wanting to come back day after day.