Wesson Builders wins national award for remodeling jobWritten by Aya Khalil | | email@example.com
Wesson Builders is becoming a national model for success.
The Toledo-based company won the Midwest regional award for a bath remodel in the $40,000 to $60,000 category. This Chrysalis Award was given by judges including editors and writers from Better Homes & Gardens and other home decorating and remodeling magazines.
“We never thought we had a chance because most of these companies we thought were out of our league — they’re multimillion dollar, big city companies,” said Bonnie Wolke, owner of Wesson Builders.
“And believe me, people took notice when they said, ‘Wesson Builders Toledo, Ohio.’ It’s like everybody stopped and look and said, ‘Who? Toledo?’”
Her husband Dennis Wolke, also an owner, said the winning entry was a remodeling job in Sylvania Township that turned a garage into a bathroom and master suite. This was the bathroom that was also entered into the Home Builders Association of Greater Toledo (HBA) contest.
“[The customer] fell in love with this tub arrangement,” Dennis said. “The tub is full to the top and it overflows into a basin around the perimeter of it, and that’s where the pump for the whirlpool is, so it’s always overflowing over the edges like a fountain.”
The Wolkes won several HBA awards in 2008: Bath Design of the Year, Remodeled Project of the Year, Remodeler of the Year and Charitable or Community Event of the Year.
Wesson Builders was founded by John Wesson in 1946 and focused exclusively on building garages. He died in 1960, and his employees bought the company from his widow. The Wolkes purchased the business in 1987.
“We really changed the focus of the business from just garage building to all-around home remodeling,” Bonnie said.
Wesson Builders looks to surpass its growth in 2006 and 2007 with the end of its fiscal year in six weeks, the couple said.
The Wolkes said the projects they are seeing are bigger and more complicated than in the past, with more whole house remodeling than room additions. The firm is keeping 12 contractors working on carpentry, concrete, electrical, heating, mechanical and plumbing for the projects.
“People are not adding space, but using existing floor space more efficiently,” Dennis said. “They are spending more on bathroom and kitchen remodeling projects than in the past. Seven of the nine bathroom projects we’ve done this year featured ceramic tile.”
“Customers are better informed from research they do on the Internet and require more from us,” Bonnie said.
“We have the ability to do design-build projects based on the customer’s ideas or floor plans,” said Dennis, who recently completed a course to become a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified remodeler.
The remodelers use the U.S. Department of Energy’s software to make the building projects 8 to 10 percent above local and state requirements with more green design features, Dennis said.
Wesson Builders is using two products that contribute to green design. The company uses a paperless, mold-free drywall from Georgia Pacific in bathroom and basement projects. The other product is a sound-dampening material to mount drywall on to reduce noise.
Wesson Builders provides commercial work like office renovations, conference rooms and home remodeling. It competes for work in Southeast Michigan and Northwest Ohio.
The Wolkes remodeled the store location, 1630 Laskey Road, because the previous owners were smokers and the interior turned yellow.
“The bulk of our business now is room additions, kitchens, baths and finishing basements and sunrooms,” Bonnie said. Bathroom remodeling starts at $10,000 to $20,000.
“We always have someone come out to the home,” Bonnie said. “Typically, on the first visit, we take some pictures and some measurements to get an idea of the scope of work.”
The company has nine staff members, plus additional plumbers and electricians when needed. Estimates are free. For more information, visit www.wessonbuilders.com or call (419) 476-2259.
Toledo Free Press Senior Business Writer Duane Ramsey contributed to this report.