Feb

05

Callen Recognized for Craftsmanship and Customer Service

Residential Bathroom $25,000-$50,000 Gold Award

Callen was recently recognized by three different organization for the quality of its work and how it conducts business.

The company received two awards in the Milwaukee NARI-sponsored 2017 Wisconsin Remodeler of the Year Awards (WRA) presented January 12, 2018. Callen was recognized with awards in the following remodeling categories:

  • Residential Bathroom $25,000 – $50,000: Gold Award
  • Residential Kitchen $60,000 – $100,000: Silver Award

Residential Kitchen $60,000-$100,000 Silver Award

This is the 18th consecutive year Callen has won an award in the WRA competition, which is conducted annually by the Milwaukee NARI Home Improvement Council, Inc.

Callen was awarded “Best Of Houzz” in Customer Service on Houzz, the leading platform for home remodeling and design. Callen was chosen by the more than 40 million monthly unique users that comprise the Houzz community from among more than one million active home building, remodeling and design industry professionals.

The Best Of Houzz is awarded annually in three categories: Design, Customer Service, and Photography. Customer Service honors are based on several factors, including the number and quality of client reviews a professional received in 2017. A “Best Of Houzz 2018” badge appears on Callen’s profile as a sign of the company’s commitment to excellence. These badges help homeowners identify popular and top-rated home professionals in every metro area on Houzz. Follow Callen on Houzz at www.houzz.com/Callen-Construction.

“The Houzz community selected a phenomenal group of Best of Houzz 2018 award winners, so this year’s recipients should be very proud,” said Liza Hausman, Vice President of Industry Marketing at Houzz. “Best of Houzz winners represent some of the most talented and customer-focused professionals in our industry, and we are extremely pleased to give them both this recognition and a platform on which to showcase their expertise.”

Lastly, Callen earned the service industry’s coveted Angie’s List Super Service Award for the ninth time in the company’s history. The award honors service professionals who have maintained exceptional service ratings and reviews on Angie’s List in 2017

“The service providers that receive our Angie’s List Super Service Award demonstrate the level of excellence that members have come to expect,” said Angie’s List Founder Angie Hicks. “These pros are top-notch and absolutely deserve recognition for the trustworthy and exemplary customer service they exhibited in the past year and overall.”

Angie’s List Super Service Award 2017 winners have met strict eligibility requirements, which include maintaining an “A” rating in overall grade, recent grade and review period grade. The Super Service Award winners must be in good standing with Angie’s List, pass a background check, record a current trade license attestation, and abide by Angie’s List operational guidelines.

Service company ratings are updated continually on Angie’s List as new, verified consumer reviews are submitted. Companies are graded on an A through F scale in multiple fields ranging from price to professionalism to punctuality.

“Being once again recognized by these three outstanding organization represents the dedication to quality work and service by all Callen employees,” said Phil Callen, owner. “Since 1986, we’ve worked with our clients to create the home they desire with our unique approach. These awards show that our emphasis on providing the best products and service to our customers is appreciated.”

Feb

24

Certifications and Training Building Blocks of Excellence

By Christopher Wittmann, CR

Benjamin Franklin once said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

Tom and Phil Callen have believed in this philosophy since 1986.  This is also the reason so many of our installers and sales people have certifications and training related to the specific fields they work in.

Building practices are ever evolving.  Years ago, a carpenter learned by doing, or they were taught by their father or grandfather on the methods of constructing a building or installing materials on a house.  Through the years, professional courses were developed to aid in the education of those practices.  While this teaching is still prevalent today, it doesn’t offer the continual education, requirements, and recommendations for installing residential building products.  This is why many manufacturers and organizations are taking an additional approach when it comes to ensuring accuracy and customer satisfaction by the ways of installer certifications and training.

GAF:ELK LogoAs a GAF® Master Elite Roofing installer, our roofers and sales people are required to take a yearly written exam on the best installation practices and the system of components used.  Our installers go one step further by being tested on physical installation standards based on GAF’s requirements.  Through the years, we have continually abided by this and have proved ourselves year after year by receiving GAF’s Training Excellence Award, Installation Excellence Award, Consumer Protection Award, and once again, the GAF President’s Award!

13ANG0007_SuperServiceLogo_Final_LessGradient-2200pxOur siding crew takes advantage of the numerous certifications available through companies like James Hardie (fiber cement products), Mastic (vinyl siding, aluminum trim, and gutters) and the Vinyl Siding Institute (VSI).  These courses help our installers learn the best methods and practices of not only installing the numerous products, but also troubleshooting situations that can help ensure future problems are avoided.  Callen was recently again recognized by Angie’s List with the Super Service Award for siding.

Our carpenters that install windows and doors also have many certifications.  As one of the leading Infinity from Marvin Fiberglass Window companies in the nation, our installers have received the factory installation standards training.  This is performed at Marvin’s Warroad, MN facility, in conjunction with the Installation Masters certification through the American Architectural Manufactures Associations (AAMA).  Again, Angie’s List recognized Callen for window installations with the Super Service Award.

certifiedSpeaking of carpenters, over the past few years, four of our lead carpenters earned the National Association of the Remodeling Industry’s (NARI) Certified Lead Carpenter (CLC) status.  This designation promotes the highest standards of carpentry remodeling through credentialing of remodeling professionals.  It assesses and improves the level of knowledge demonstrated by the carpenter and ensures professional growth and development.

Finally, the EPA’s Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule requires firms performing renovation, repair, and painting projects that disturb lead-based paint in homes, child care facilities and pre-schools built before 1978 have their firm certified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or an EPA authorized state, use certified renovators who are trained by EPA-approved training providers and follow lead-safe work practices.  All of our lead carpenters have been trained under these rules and continue to receive updates on the methods used to perform all projects in a lead-safe manner.

This time spent learning ensures that not only do our clients receive the best possible installation, but also the best possible experience.  Becoming an expert is not only in our best interest as a company, it’s also undeniably the best way to keep up!  Our repeat business and referral rate proves this.

Jun

16

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Washing Machine

As the owner of Callen Construction, Inc. and Callen Design Group and a member of Milwaukee/NARI, I’m quite eager to show off our work during NARI’s annual tour of remodeled homes, the Spring Home Improvement Showcase.  I never expected or planned to put my own home on tour, but that is what happened, all because of the laundry room.

My wife, Bonnie, really wanted a first floor laundry room, which she got later rather than sooner, because like the shoemaker’s children who had no shoes, I’m the construction guy busy on other people’s projects.  Anyway, we were able to create a laundry room by utilizing closet space in the eating/entertainment area of our kitchen and bumping out a bit into an adjacent bedroom.  Now here is how one simple project morphed into almost an entire first floor re-do and a spot in the Spring Home Improvement Showcase.  Since we were opening up a wall and changing up the eating/entertainment area, we decided to freshen up its look, beginning with stripping off wallpaper.  Well, the wallpaper extended into the kitchen cooking area, so of course we had to continue with the stripping and repainting.  And since we never liked our countertops, backsplash, and sinks, why not replace those, too!

Does it stop there?  You guessed it.  The kitchen connects to the dining room, which we had redone a few years prior, but not the windows.  So we thought now was as good a time as any for window replacement.  As long as we’re replacing windows in the dining room, let’s fix those living room windows as well, replacing a picture window and two French casements with three cottage-style double hungs.  And we were never crazy about the fireplace.  Let’s gut it to the studs and replace the woodburning feature with gas.  We need some new comfortable furniture, too.  Before you know it, we’ve got a whole new look.

Now in early March, I met with my staff and marketing people to discuss the spring tour and possible projects we could feature.  I never gave a thought to showing my own house, but at their suggestion, well, I suppose Bonnie and I could feature the laundry room, kitchen and living room.

A little background here.  Over the past 25 years, Bonnie and I have redone almost the entire house bit by bit.  Prior to the laundry room fix, our most recent projects were the upstairs bathroom and bedrooms in 2007 and the dining room and front hallway in 2006.  We’ve made cosmetic changes several times throughout. So now we are talking about not only showing the first floor, but the entire house.

The race is on.  Do you know what’s involved in prepping a house for a home tour, even a house that was recently remodeled?  You start by taking a long hard look at everything in the house, where it’s placed, how it functions, if it’s attractive or worn, and so much more.  Is there a crack in the plaster somewhere that was overlooked? Does the carpeting have a stain?  Do the window treatments need updating or cleaning? Will our new furniture arrive in time or will the living room be empty?  Should we get a new bedspread?  You look at everything from a different perspective, wondering what people will notice, and what will they think, down to the infinitesimal detail.

So many things to consider and accomplish in a short amount of time.  Remember, we decided this at the end of March and the tour was the second weekend in May.  Needless to say, it was intense. Thanks to Merry Maids for the deep cleaning.  Thanks to Faith Wolf, our interior designer, for making sure our furniture came on time.  Thanks to Bonnie and Faith for coordinating all the finishing touches, their good taste in choosing just the right accessories, and setting our dining room table so that it was fit for a presidential visit.

The day of the tour, we went to a hotel, exhausted, and slept most of the afternoon.  But the house looked the best it ever had.  We had 97 visitors on Saturday and 90 on Sunday.  Faith Wolf, who was in the home during the tour, said the response was fabulous.  The good thing about this is that having the home on the tour meant everything we wanted to do got done.  No postponing of a project or putting off the finishing touches.

Now every time I come home, I come to a home I really enjoy.  And it makes sense.  This is where we want to be.  There is no Florida getaway, no lake cottage.  This is the house we want to enjoy and stay in for as long as we possibly can.

Now the funny thing is, what do you think is Bonnie’s favorite part of the remodel?  If you guessed the first floor laundry, you would be correct.  She loves not having to walk up and down the stairs to the basement lugging clothes back and forth.  I enjoy most my new leather chair by the gas fireplace.

My point in this rather long blog is that a homeowner should truly love where they are living.  Make your home what you want it to be.  You don’t need to knock out a wall or build an addition to make things more comfortable or beautiful.  Little things can go a long way to improving appearance and functionality, like our laundry room and the fireplace.  Even if you can only afford to do one thing at a time, change out old doors, get that new sink and faucet, invest in closet organizers, replace your cabinet hardware…it all makes a difference.  The best part is you will feel good about where you are living.

– Tom