LBA Builder of the Year – Thelen Total Construction

Randy Thelen & Melody Fehling receive awards from LBA

Randy Thelen & Melody Fehling receive awards from LBA

Randy Thelen was recognized as LBA 2016 Builder of the Year, a reflection of the Thelen Total Construction’s active role in the organization throughout the years.  We consistently supported LBA by participating in the Home Expo and the Parade of Homes, year after year. In addition, Melody Fehling, office manager at Thelen Total Construction chaired the 2016 Parade of Homes committee, and serves on the LBA Board of Directors.

Traditionally at the Lakeland Builders Association’s Christmas party and officer installation ceremony, awards are given to members in three categories: Builder of the Year, Associate of the Year and Cornerstone Award.

That night LBA’s first ever Foundation Award was given to Melody. Susan Keel, the 2016 President of LBA talked about how some members are the “foundation of an organization.” They are the go-to people when there is a question or a challenge. They are the people who give of their time unhesitatingly. They help move the organization forward in its goals.

2016 was a challenging one for LBA in which Executive Officer, Karen Mrozinski left for a career opportunity in May. The Raab Group was then hired to fill the Executive Officer role at LBA. Kathy Raab and her team are doing a great job with new ideas, experience and knowledge. During the transition, there’s a period of time needed to fully understand the member’s needs and what the goals are. Melody had a role in that –because of her close to two decades of involvement with LBA.

Under the leadership of Bill Ruebl, incoming 2017 President of the Association, new challenges and opportunities await builders and associate members. We look forward to an exciting and prosperous new year!

2017 LBA Home Expo at The Ridge Resort January 28-29

2017 LBA Home Expo

Jim Gage from Thelen Total Construction answering questions on home construction.

The perfect place to start planning your new home building or remodeling project is the 2017 Lakeland Builders Association Home Improvement Expo, which will be at a NEW location – The Ridge Resort  in Lake Geneva on January 28-29.  This conveniently located venue has plenty of close parking for guests. Check out the bold contemporary look of The Ridge. The perfect place to start your bold adventure in home improvement!

Why not make great use of the cold winter weekend talking to:

  • Custom Builders
  • Remodelers
  • Landscapers
  • Electricians
  • HVAC Specialists
  • Bath Renovators
  • Painters
  • Roofers
  • Window covering specialists
  • Fireplace installers
  • And more!

 All under one roof. As they tell you on late night TV commercials; “Wait! There’s more! There will be speakers and demonstrations to help you bring your home from ordinary to extraordinary.

Tickets are $5 each. Children 12 and under are FREE. Want to get FREE admission? Simply print this page and bring it to the Expo for TWO FREE TICKETS! Our compliments. Stop by and say Hi. We’ll be at Booth 303 – by the fireplace!


Lakeland Builders Association Home Expo – January 28-29

The Ridge Resort

W4240 Wi Hwy 50

Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

Saturday January 28  10 am to 5 pm

Sunday January 29  10 am to 4 pm

2016 LBA Parade of Homes

Lake Beulah home featured in the LBA Parade of Homes

Lake Beulah home featured in the LBA Parade of Homes

One highlight of the summer months is the Lakeland Builders Association Parade of Homes.

Lakeland Builders Association and Thelen Total Construction have a long history together: At last count we’ve showcased 46 homes since the first LBA Parade of homes in 1989!  More than any other builder.

This year we will be featuring two homes; one on Pleasant Lake in the Elkhorn / Troy area, and one on Lake Beulah in East Troy. They are unique homes – personifying the style and features our homeowners wanted.

The Pleasant Lake home is just under 2,000 square feet – quite a departure from the 11,500 square foot home we showcased last year on Lauderdale Lakes! It cottage detailing makes for cozy retreat on the lake.

The Lake Beulah home is on a ridge overlooking the lake. Three stories of windows give you lots of natural light and inspiring lake views in this contemporary- looking lake home.

“We always look forward to the Parade of Homes”, said Randy Thelen. “It’s a great way for people to see the details and quality of the home and learn a little bit about the latest and best products used. We enjoy the “open house” aspect of it connecting with people in the community and visiting with past clients who stop by and say hello. We love that a few of our homeowners even lend a hand each year showing visitors our Parade Home. Our friendly staff wants to make your visit enjoyable and informative.”

Perfect, relaxing get-away cottage on Pleasant Lake.

Perfect, relaxing get-away cottage on Pleasant Lake.

The Parade of Homes Dates:

Saturday July 30 and Sunday July 31

Saturday August 6 and Sunday August 7

Hours: 11:00 am to 5:00 pm

For more information on this home and other homes in the 2016 Lakeland Builders Association Parade of Homes, please visit the LBA website.

We look forward to seeing you!

Pantry Power



According to the National Association of Home Builders, a pantry was the kitchen feature most desired by new home buyers.  Kitchen pantry possibilities range from a closet, a nook to a dedicated room.  A couple of interesting trends in pantry design:

  • Wanting more daylight in the kitchen prompts a shift in storage design. Delivering more daylight means less available wall space and that has translated to an increased interest in walk-in room pantry space.
  • A really large pantry can serve as a secondary kitchen; also known as a “messy kitchen” , or a back kitchen – complete with cooktop, dishwasher, sink, prep space, floor to ceiling storage for canned goods, serving platters, oversize pots and pans, and space for caterers to set up. With open kitchens adjacent to living areas, a back kitchen provides a place to keep kitchen chaos out of sight when company comes.

Convenience, accessibility,  and “at a glance” visibility are the key attributes of a great pantry.  A walk-in pantry doesn’t need to be fancy since it’s behind closed doors.  However, even if it’s only simple shelving, it’s a good idea to include a countertop for a landing zone. It’ll make it easier to stock items, provide extra place for food prep, and space for a blender, a stand mixer and a coffee maker.  You can add as needed wall cabinets with pull-outs and built-ins. Other features can include pullout baskets for root vegetables, narrow cubbies for large platters, and nooks for cookware. The pantry should be large enough to hold a week’s worth of groceries and close enough to the food prep area. Organization and the right location are more important than size alone though.

Other pantry design ideas to keep in mind are: Pantry Tip

  • Which way will the door open? A door that opens inward can work, but it may make an already small space smaller. When space is at a premium, the best options are a pocket, folding or a sliding “barn door.”
  • Ideal lighting illuminates every shelf evenly, so be sure to install quality LED lighting. A skylight is a great idea if the home design allows. And make sure the light switch is in a spot by the pantry door.

Whether your pantry is  built-in cabinetry, a butler’s, a walk-in, or a combination – storage is never in short supply, and your kitchen layout is optimized for maximum efficiency.

How long have you been in business?

A newly constructed Thelen Total Construction home - built to look like a 19th century farmhouse.

A newly constructed Thelen Total Construction home – built to look like a 19th century farmhouse.

Why this is a great question to ask a builder.

The National Association of Homebuilders estimates that it takes at least 3 to 5 years to create a sustainable building business. Most builders never get there: residential contractors have a failure rate higher than nearly every other business type, surpassed only by restaurants.

Only the strongest  homebuilding companies survive.

High-end custom home building is even more competitive. The few companies that rise to the top of this challenging niche are financially sound and professionally managed. They work to exacting quality standards. They know how to keep customers happy. These top builders all have a lot of experience. One only learns to excel at building complex homes for demanding customers by, well, building complex homes for demanding customers.

But it’s not just a numbers game. Besides having completed lots of homes for lots of people, the best builders make a point of learning something from each job. They spend time at the end of the project analyzing what worked and what didn’t, and they put those lessons to work on future projects. That’s one reason they have risen to the top of their markets.

Another reason is that they stay abreast of industry trends. Like everything else in today’s world, the demands on builders are growing faster than ever. They include ever-evolving tastes in home design, as well as codes, standards, and regulations. Successful, experienced builders educate themselves and their staff on these trends and smoothly incorporate them into their business practices.

Tuscan villa home constructed by Thelen Total Construction featured in 2015 Parade of Homes.

Tuscan villa home constructed by Thelen Total Construction featured in 2015 Parade of Homes.

Depth of experience and a culture of learning have direct benefits for customers. Top builders systematically track the time and money required to complete each project.  Over the years, they have learned exactly what can and cannot be accomplished with a given schedule and budget. And they have developed the communication and problem-solving skills to help customers reconcile the vision with the reality.

Experienced custom builders will also have earned the trust of their business partners. A long track record with material suppliers ensures the best prices and delivery schedules. And because like companies tend to flock together, experienced professional builders have long-term work relationships with the most experienced and professionally managed trade contractors in town, including plumbers, electricians, and HVAC companies. These relationships play a huge role in getting the job done right for a fair price and in a timely manner.

Rustic lodge design home

Long after the home is complete, these relationships ensure quick responses to warranty requests. In fact, customers can be confident that if a warranty item needs servicing a few years down the road, the experienced pro’s team will be around to take care of it. How many new companies can offer that peace of mind?

The point is that high integrity, great communication skills, and a track record of successful projects and satisfied customers raise the odds of a smooth building process. Hiring a professional company with the resources needed to do a great job, on time, and with minimal stress pays off big in the long run.