Q&A Chris Stebnitz

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To complement this issue’s At Home Section, we caught up with Chris Stebnitz, third-generation owner of Stebnitz Builders, a full-service residential remodeling and design firm serving clients in the greater Walworth County area since 1972. Established by Chris’ grandfather and then guided by his father and uncles’ leadership for nearly 40 years, Stebnitz Builders was purchased by Chris in 2005.

A graduate of Delavan-Darien High School and the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, where he received a journalism degree, Chris is married to his best friend, Jill, who is an elementary school teacher in Elkhorn. The couple has three sons.

WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS TO ENSURE STEBNITZ BUILDERS’ CONTINUED SUCCESS?

Stebnitz Builders’ focus is to be the very best listening company, translating into a wonderful experience for our clients and a project completed to the highest quality. We are continually adding to our process with both improved systems and new staff to manage those systems. This ensures our clients are heard 100% of the time and their project and experience is exactly what they’d hoped for. Hiring a company to tear apart your home and reconstruct it in a way that better fits your lifestyle can be a frightening thought for most homeowners. My goal for Stebnitz Builders is to continue offering homeowners an experience that not only eliminates that fear, but provides them a process in which the design, selection and production phases all lead to a wonderfully “better-suited” home through an equally memorable experience throughout our process.

HOW HAS THE LABOR SHORTAGE IN THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY IMPACTED YOUR BUSINESS?

When the building crash occurred in 2007, we saw a great number of young to middle-aged carpenters leave the industry and pursue other opportunities. It also led to those not yet in the industry to redirect their efforts to other opportunities. So, the remodeling industry has a 10-year span of workers who either left or didn’t enter the industry, thinning the availability of “the next generation” of carpenters. To help gain interest in the industry with young adults, Stebnitz Builders created two new initiatives. First, we created an apprenticeship program with Elkhorn Area High School to give students interested in carpentry and construction, a hands-on experience on a project site. Second, we developed a scholarship fund for students interested in continuing their education with a career in the construction industry following high school.

REMODELING CAN BE OVERWHELMING FOR HOMEOWNERS. WHAT’S YOUR PROCESS TO HELP EASE CLIENT CONCERNS?

Remodeling can be a frightening thought to a homeowner. A successful project, in our minds, is the one where our client enjoys the experience of developing the concept of the space as much as they enjoy the new space itself. The process of ensuring that experience is through listening and communication. It goes well beyond hearing what our clients wish us to know. It’s asking the right questions to get the information they may not otherwise know how to articulate.

WHAT ARE THE LATEST DESIGN TRENDS YOU’RE IMPLEMENTING IN PROJECTS?

Some of the more popular designs trends our clients are choosing continue to be timeless and classic: grays and whites, shiplap, reclaimed and rough sawn woods, and barndoors. Our clients love the combination of modern luxuries mixed with a splash of rustic. In fact, we are currently remodeling our conference room and it includes all these design trends so our clients can see and feel the different material options and how they look together.

WHY IS COMMUNITY SERVICE SO IMPORTANT TO YOU AND STEBNITZ BUILDERS?

Community involvement, support and giving are values deeply rooted in my family and the business we’ve created. I have personally felt the impact one community can do in the life of one person. After the accident that left me paralyzed from the waist down, I had a community rally around me to lift me up and get me back on to the path of happiness and fulfillment.

I encourage my staff to volunteer and give back to the community. We host an annual chili cook-off at the office in February, March Madness bracket challenge, loose change collection and a food drive during the holidays. These events not only boost company morale and engagement, but they are also used as a foundation to give back to local organizations like the United Way of Walworth County.