There is a rich history behind Callen Construction, Inc. that started in 1986 with founders Tom and Phil Callen. Two brothers who both had experience in the home improvement and remodeling industry decided to combine that knowledge and passion to form Callen Construction. With Phil’s experience in sales and production and Tom’s experience in sales and marketing, the brothers had a strong base for starting their exterior home improvement business.
In 1986, when Phil worked for a local siding and window distributor, and brother Tom had just left corporate life and was working for a contractor in Denver, Phil suggested they form a business partnership. Tom moved back to Milwaukee and began the process of incorporating the business. “I signed the papers on my 38th birthday, April 29, 1986,” Tom said.
Their small office in Franklin at 111th and Forest Home was their home base. “We both ran leads and slowly built a customer base,” Phil said.
The business soon began to grow and permanent staff was hired. The game changer for Callen was bringing on the wood window product line from Pella in 1988. “That decision in ’88 to sell Pella windows had many different offshoots,” Tom said.
A full-time salesperson was added in 1988 – Brad Flannigan who is still with Callen. The first major Callen remodeling project took place in New Berlin in 1990. More crew was hired including Mike Petersen as lead carpenter. Mike is still with Callen today and plays a key role in interior remodeling projects as well as mentoring and training new hires on the job site.
“We built our business on personal contact,” Tom said. “We were on site with sales, installation, clean-up, and picking up the final check. We made sure our customers were happy.”
The Callens moved the business to their present Muskego location in 1988, first renting 800 square feet. In 1994, they incorporated a showroom and expanded to half the building. By 1996, they owned and occupied all 5,400 square feet of space and established an interiors division for kitchens, bathrooms, and basement and attic conversions.
On April 29, 2006, 20 years after incorporation, Callen opened a newly built 2,800 square foot addition to its Muskego showroom featuring an expanded line of interior and exterior home improvement building products, including kitchen and bath vignettes, full-sized window, siding, and roofing displays, conference room and reception area.
Adding another window product line significantly helped the exterior division. In August 2006, Callen was chosen to be the exclusive Infinity from Marvin fiberglass replacement window dealer for the metro Milwaukee area. That resulted in an Infinity® from Marvin Replacement Window showroom in Brookfield at the Sendik’s Towne Centre, which opened in May 2010.
Like the Muskego flagship, the showroom features a wide variety of in-wall and freestanding Infinity window displays, entry and patio doors, along with siding and roofing displays.
Phil Callen emphasized the importance to everyone at Callen, from the top down, of treating customers with respect, as well as their home as their own. “Our employees come to us with skills, but we make sure they know the fundamentals of giving our customers the best possible remodeling experience,” Phil said. “It may sound simple, but we emphasize the basics of working with the customer, the please and thank you’s and helping the customer out. Through these efforts, we’ve created a team where everybody has one thing in common – they believe in the company, the work they do, and their fellow workers.”
Over the years, Callen has won numerous national and local remodeling awards including Remodeling Magazine’s Big 50 in 2000, given to the top 50 Remodelers across the country for professionalism in the industry; The Vinyl Siding Institute’s Award of Distinction multiple times; GAF Master Elite Excellence Award: and numerous wins in the Wisconsin Remodeler of the Year Awards (WRA) sponsored by the Milwaukee/NARI Home Improvement Council, Inc.
One of the cornerstones of Callen Construction is its commitment to community. The company supports the Milwaukee NARI Foundation, which promotes public awareness of the home remodeling and improvement industry through educational programs and community activities, as well as Muskego’s Country Christmas, Blue Lotus Farm and Retreat Center, the Richfield Soccer Club, Friends of Hales Pool, the Channel 10 Auction, and a number of others. At Milwaukee’s Irish Fest, Callen’s Cottage serves as the information booth in the Cultural Village.
One of the company’s most prominent and successful fundraisers is Refashion for Life, benefitting CommonGround Ministry/Elena’s House (Wauwatosa) and held at the Callen Muskego office and showroom. The event featuresfrom Marvin th respect, as well asparate and distinct sales forces for the interior and exterior divisions.ationships with its t a fashion show combining the newest looks in early and late fall apparel with fashionable products for the home, including countertops, tile, cabinetry, windows, flooring, and hardware
Tom Callen estimates that over the years, they have done close to 12,000 individual remodeling projects. “We have a lot of people to thank – Callen employees, customers, suppliers, trade contractors, and vendors. Close to 50% of our business comes from repeat customers, friends, and referrals,” Tom said.
“It’s amazing how the business grew; it’s been a pretty neat ride,” Phil said. “It’s unusual for two brothers to stay in business, but we always had the same goal – keeping communication open between everyone involved in the project and continuing to provide quality products and installation.”