Built to Last: Thelen Total Construction looks back on 40 years in business
Reflecting back 40 years, when Randy and Nancy Thelen started their home construction business in their home in 1974, think about this: The yearly inflation rate in the US was 11.3%, the 55 mph speed limit was imposed and daylight savings time observed year round to save energy. (Due to the 1973 oil embargo.) The global recession deepened with unemployment rising to 9%. A home mortgage rate was 9.79%. Mortgage rates rose to an astonishing 18.16% by September 1981! Not exactly the most opportune time to start a business.
Yet, Randy Thelen was young enough not to be deterred by the pessimistic outlook of the country and driven enough to find a way to succeed. Deeply interested in designing and building homes from a young age, he started the company after high school; and initially did home remodeling projects. Nancy took care of the bookkeeping. His brother, Robert joined his company in 1976 when he graduated from high school. (Today, Robert oversees home construction as site superintendent.)
When home energy costs rose dramatically in the 70’s, it became the impetus for Randy to use energy-efficient home building methods, design, and products – even building a number of earth sheltered homes in the early 80’s. In that respect, the company was “green” way before “green” became a popular buzz word! Randy has continued his education in green home building science and is a certified Green Home Builder by the National Association of Home Builders.
Construction and business education is so critically important to building a successful business and the best resource for up-to-date construction education, research, building products and technical expertise is the National Association of Home Builders. Randy availed himself to every educational opportunity by the NAHB. Strongly believing in the power of the organization, Randy helped start the local builders association – Lakeland Builders Association in 1979, and has served three times as President.
The business continued to grow in the 80’s, and Marianne O’ Brien -Hurlburt (who recently retired in 2011 after 25 years), joined the company first as a bookkeeper and then took on construction project management duties.
Randy’s son Jason came on board in 2011 as project manager, and is also closely involved with Randy, meeting with clients in the home design phase.
Jason’s not the only offspring involved with Thelen Total Construction. In 2004, Randy’s daughter Katie started an interior design business – Katherine Elizabeth Designs, which created a synergistic alliance; giving our clients the opportunity of personalized guidance with color schemes, materials, lighting, floor coverings and furniture.
This is a family business; not simply because of family directly involved in the business, but also true of employees. Several employees have 20 or more years with the company. “It’s a place where employee’s work, attention to detail and input matters,” said Melody Fehling, the office manager since 1994.
Thelen Total Construction carpenters have a mind-set of building each home as if it was their own, and the office staff; Sue, Jim and Melody continually focus on creating a smoother home building experience for clients from start to finish.
Living and thriving in the community creates a natural desire to give back. Over the years we’ve partnered with many community organizations, sharing our building expertise:
We’ve designed and built the Wiswell Center at the Walworth County Fair Grounds in 1998. (Keeping the unique and historic octagon shape of the original building) We were part of the Elkhorn Mathesson Library and Community Center expansion project and most recently in 2013, been part of creating “The Tree House”; the Walworth County Alliance for Children building.
“It’s personally gratifying using our building experience, working with other dedicated individuals to make our community a better place,” said Randy. “We continue to support many local charities and causes.”
We create lasting relationships with our homeowners. They know we are around to listen and help; whether they’ve just moved into their home, or its ten or more years later. One of the most telling facts is that several homeowners volunteer their time helping us staff our Parade Home each year! They simply enjoy talking to prospective homeowners about their homebuilding experience, and the quality of our homes. Said John and Linda Bauer, “Thelen Total Construction was wonderful to work with. They put your needs first, and make you think of everything in the planning process, so in the end, the final result is a home built for you.”
We believe that building a custom home should be one of the most rewarding, enjoyable and stress-less experiences in your life. Our satisfied clients who continue to refer us and our area wide reputation for beautiful homes are just two of the reasons we have been in business for more than 40 years. For that we are immensely grateful.
Over the four decades we’ve designed, built or renovated over 250 homes in the lakes region of Walworth County. From small beginnings and tough economic times and during times of prosperity, our mission remains to build distinctive homes and treat each homeowner like theirs is the only home that matters. Because of all the places we hold dear in our lives, your home is the most important. We come to understand that for us, for our families and for you – a home is everything.