The soft-spoken Catlett is a hometown kid made good. A 1978 graduate of Gordon Lee High School, he played tailback on the Trojans football team, which he recounts fondly.
We went 9-1 my senior year, he said, and that was without a quarterback, as all three of ours got injured that season.
On a recent visit with a classmates mother, Catlett said she told him that she had never seen such closeness as that between he and his fellow students.
When we have a class reunion its just like a family reunion, he said.
Out of high school Catlett literally went straight to work.
The day after I graduated I went to work with my dad on top of a 10-story building, he remembered.
Working his way up from helping his brick mason dad as a laborer for two years, he entered the apprentice program for three years.
Family: Wife, C.J.; son, Travis, 18; daughter, Michaela, 11; daughter, Samantha, 9; son, Luke, 6
Organizations: Walker County Chamber of Commerce, Associated General Contractors, Masonry Contractors Association, Masonry Institute of Tennessee board member, Gordon Lee High School Alumni Association, Building & Construction Institute of the Southeast at Chattanooga State board member
Church: Elizabeth Lee United Methodist Church Chickamauga
Favorite books: Incredible Journey, Where The Red Fern Grows
Favorite movies: Somewhere In Time, A Star is Born
Favorite music: Soft rock
Favorite singers: Barbra Streisand; Reba McEntire
Favorite TV show: Saturday Night Live (though I usually dont stay up late enough)
Favorite actress: Barbra Streisand
Favorite quote/philosophy: Best price doesnt mean best buy and Every day is a new day, if you need it to be.
Something most people dont know about me: Ive always wanted to learn to fly
After completing his apprenticeship he became a journeyman mason and worked at that for a couple of years before starting his own masonry business with a partner in 1985. Catlett became sole proprietor in 1990, and incorporated Masonry Specialist Construction in 1995.
He moved the business out of his house in Chickamauga up to East Ridge, Tenn., to accommodate the large amount of commercial work they do in the Chattanooga area.
But Catletts heart is in Chickamauga and Walker County, and he says doing business here helps him keep in touch with his roots. His company employs about 50 people, many of whom commute from Walker County.
Projects that hes proud to have been involved with include the Chattanooga Valley Middle School and the Chickamauga Public Library.
Catlett, 46, has been a resident of Chickamauga most of his life, the only exception being about two years during childhood when his family lived in Huntsville, Ala.
The world has changed a lot since I was a kid, but Chickamauga has kept a lot of what I remember from those times, he said.
One of the good changes hes seen in the town is the growth of the Chickamauga Recreation Association. He remembers helping to clear rocks at the site of the Chickamauga ballfields on Cove Road.
We were lucky back then to even have football and baseball, he said, and now they have soccer, cheerleading and baton and all kinds of things for boys and girls to get into.
Catlett said hes concerned with one change he sees, that being how nowadays, with more kids going to and from these activities, theres more traffic.
I dont know that I would trust my kids out in the streets on bicycles like my parents did with us, he said. Traffics heavier and people just seem to be in more of a hurry. They drive too fast.
As a member of the Walker County Chamber of Commerce, Catlett stays involved, having served on the board as treasurer in 2006 and now as vice chairman for 2007. He serves on several Chamber committees, including the small business and legislative committees.
He is particularly proud of his work on the senior citizens committee, which hosts the very popular annual lunch for Walker County elderly.
A 97-year-old cousin of mine recently passed away at Shepherd Hills (nursing home in LaFayette), he said. I really enjoy visiting there and have come to know many of the residents.
As for his self-made success, Catlett attributes much of that to parents who taught him how to work hard.
Theres been some long hours involved in getting to where I am today, he said.
The hard work went beyond just its own reward when Chip got married at age 33.
Its so much more rewarding to have success when you also have a family to share it with, said the father of four.
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