Meet our 2022 Builder of The Year, Jason Wanke of Wausau Homes Medford. A builder who is known for consistently achieving success, winning this prestigious award for the fourth time since 2011 and becoming the first builder in Wausau Homes history to win this award in back-to-back years. Jason and his team have worked hard to build a company that is dedicated to quality custom homes and top-notch customer service.
Get to know our Wausau Homes Medford team in more detail with our Q&A.
What does receiving Builder of the Year mean to Team Medford?
It feels great to be rewarded for your efforts. Every year we begin again, and this is a moment to take stock of a long-fought battle. We know there are many deserving builders who are part of the Wausau Homes Federation, so we’re happy to be recognized again this year.
When our clients come to our Design Studio and see the Builder of the Year trophy, it gives them confidence that they’re working with a team that is committed to quality and excellence. Since our first win in 2011, again in 2017, and back-to-back wins in 2021 and 2022, it truly is an honor to be recognized year after year for the experience that we provide our customers.
We asked Wausau Homes owner, Jay Schuette, why he chose Wausau Homes Medford as a back-to-back winner.
"To give out the Builder of the Year award to Medford two years in a row was an easy decision when you looked at the team's success, customer satisfaction, growth, and commitment to quality," explains Jay Schuette. “Wausau Homes Medford builds a lot of homes over the course of the year. Even during those cold Midwest winter months, production doesn’t stop. And when it comes to customer satisfaction scores, Medford's homebuyers had nothing but raving reviews for the team.”
What qualities does it take to become Builder of the Year?
It takes a lot of hard work, dedication, and perseverance. You have to be able to put in the long hours and make your homebuyers happy. We follow up a year after the home is built, to check in with our homebuyers and try to take care of them long-term. We truly believe the biggest part of our success is developing relationships with our homebuyers. You find over time that this is far more than a transactional relationship. We live here, we love it here. We're in a town of 5,000 people, but we know we aren't just building homes, we're building our own community.
This year has been a whirlwind. It is a day-to-day grind. You get up and keep going. But with all of this, you have to enjoy what you do. Helping homebuyers design a house and solving their problems is what makes it all worth it in the end.
How did you get into the custom home building business?
I am a second-generation builder who grew up in Medford. I watched my dad build homes and got my start putting shingles on roofs. As a father of five, I have high hopes that there may be a third generation to continue on our legacy of building beautiful custom homes in this beautiful place.
Why did you choose to be a Wausau Homes builder?
We love that Wausau Homes is a one-stop-shop. This not only benefits us but especially our homebuyers. With the exception of a few items, our homebuyers are able to completely design their custom home at our Design Studio. This streamlines the material process and saves the team time to focus on developing strong relationships with local tradesmen. We have seen over time the difference that makes. We couldn't imagine ever going back to stick building a home and having to pull together all of the separate elements.
How does Wausau Homes make you a better builder?
After working with our homebuyers to get everything they want completely dialed in, we simply send in the home order to the Wausau Homes headquarters. They will then source materials, build the panelized framework, and coordinate the crane and crew to frame the home on site. Our team doesn't have to worry about keeping track of everything on the backend and it is a huge help. This frees up our time to be more present with our homebuyers and the team is able to focus on timelines and ordering all the finishing details, so everything comes together at the right time.
For example, garage doors, this is a product Wausau Homes, Inc does not supply. Right now it takes four months to get a garage door. Just the other day I drove by a new home another builder was working on. The home was just about done, but it didn't have a garage door installed. Instead the home had a green tarp hanging over the space where the garage door should be. I know exactly what happened there! The builder was so busy framing the home themselves that they weren't able to order the garage door in time.
What is it that makes a Wausau built home different?
It's both the little things and the big things. For example, everything from the nail pattern in the panelized construction, to header sizing, and even the floor joist spacing. It's the fine-tuning of all these elements that home inspectors look for, and no one does it better than Wausau Homes. Creating that level of quality in the components of the framework, and then transporting everything to the actual building site is an amazing feat we don't take for granted.
What part of the custom home building process do you find the most rewarding?
We really enjoy seeing the finished product with the homebuyers. We can't imagine anything better than building a home that provides a solution for their situation, knowing we developed their lot specifically for their needs. We know when we hand over the keys, they will continue to walk through the door of their home for years and be completely satisfied. And that’s what brings us satisfaction. It's something that makes them happy to come home to every day.
If you were building your dream home what is the one feature you would have to have?
Jason: I can't do without a large garage, a big screened-in porch, and beautiful outdoor living space.
Jeremy: I love a large kitchen with lots of storage and a big island. Gathering everyone together in the kitchen is always my favorite part of hosting a party.
Terry: It would have to be what I have in my house right now, a zero-entry garage door, basically no steps from the garage into the house.
How has the Medford team handled the supply chain problems that we've seen over the last couple of years with customers?
The key with our customers has always been communication. Our customers have been incredibly understanding with all of the supply chain changes and our team has been working hard to keep them in the loop with what is happening.
Being a builder is a tough life. It is not for the faint of heart. But there’s also nothing else we would rather be doing.
Why are people building custom homes in Medford, WI?
If you took a gun and shot right in the middle of Wisconsin, you'll hit Medford. Medford has so much to offer. We have industry, recreation, lakes, farming — you name it, we have it. People are moving from everywhere and coming to central Wisconsin to get out of the city and get into these beautiful areas. I think central Wisconsin is a hidden gem and there's no place I would rather live.
How do you stay successful as a custom home builder?
It really comes down to our team. Every day our team gets up and keeps at it. One person can only handle so many houses. It takes a team to support each other and bring each of our skills to the table to make every part work. Wausau Homes Medford has had the same people since 2011. The people remain the same, but everything else around us in the construction industry has changed. The times we are in right now are some of the most challenging times for new construction.
What's changed? Everything.
What's the same? Our people. Our quality. Our commitment to excellence.
Get in Touch with Wausau Homes Medford Team