WBS November 2016 Market Update

Nov 14, 2016

The final step in a whole-home updating, the latest trends in housing costs, learning how to continuously improve, and partnering with a local housing authority and high school to build a new home.


Warm and Inviting Kitchen

The client at this Fond du Lac home had already updated the rest of her house when she came to WBS designer Kris Freismuth with a kitchen renovation request.

The older home was adorned in rustic décor, and the homeowner wanted her kitchen to coordinate. Kris knew she needed to take the small kitchen of this basic house and turn it into a warm, inviting space.

So Kris created a design that removed the soffits and used raised-panel, distressed rustic alder cabinetry and Cambria Quartz counter tops in Shirebrook to achieve the look. The rustic cabinetry pairs nicely with the modern counter tops, backsplash, and sink, and it perfectly completes the whole home renovation.

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2016 Cost of Housing Trends

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Continuous Improvement through Six Sigma Certification

For the past three years, WBS has set out to reduce waste, improve processes, and ensure efficiency within the entire company, from top-level management through the full organization. The purpose of learning this methodology, called Lean Six Sigma, is to continuously improve, increase customer satisfaction, and reduce costs.

Our goal as a top building industry supplier is to make your job as a professional contractor run smoothly and more efficiently, and we’re able to do that by training our employees in Lean Six Sigma methods.

One way WBS implements the strategies its employees learn in Six Sigma training is by evaluating systems to avoid repetition and unnecessary steps. For instance, an evaluation of lumber yards was performed last year, and it was determined that the layout of the yards wasn’t as efficient as it could be. So several lumber yards were reorganized, and components for particular projects – all the pieces to build a fence, for example – were placed in close proximity to each other. This reduces the time and energy it takes to load a truck before a delivery, and in the process lowers the cost for you, the consumer.

WBS human resources manager Ann Carpenedo said the process of Six Sigma training at WBS has “created an environment where people are challenged to become the best they can be.” The company sees great importance in investing in its people and helping empower them to help drive continuous improvement to sustain excellence.

There are different levels of Six Sigma training, and the most common is a four-hour certification class where participants receive a White Belt in Six Sigma. The next level is Yellow Belt, then Green Belt, and Black Belt. By the end of 2016, WBS will have put nearly 520 employees through Six Sigma training.


WBS Partners with Merrill Housing Authority, High School Students to Build a Home

A longtime building program in Merrill that has been on hiatus since the recession and housing crisis has been picked back up again. The program, which is funded by the Merrill Housing Authority and uses high school students to build a house, is being supplied with materials from WBS.

Four Merrill high school students are learning the skills of the building trade while helping to supply a family in need with new, affordable housing.

The building program, called the Blue Jay Build Team, was started in 1977 and ran until the recession of the late 2000s and early 2010s. But because the housing market is on the rise, the Merrill Housing Authority and high school tech ed teacher Tim Osborn decided to start the program again. The housing authority’s Tim Mueske said the organization and other local businesses are paying for the project, and the finished home will be used as affordable housing through the housing authority.

The program, said Tim, is a great way for today’s younger generation to learn skilled trades. The students are framing and hanging drywall in the home, and they’ll work alongside other professional contractors like electricians and plumbers to complete the rest of the build.

“The trade industry is suffering, it doesn’t matter what area you’re in,” said Tim. “Everyone thinks it’s a low-paying profession, but it’s not. There is good money in it.”

Tim said that due to their school schedules, the kids are only able to spend two hours a day on the building site. The plan is for the house to be complete by the time school lets out in spring. By then the students will have learned a skilled trade, and Tim said maybe it will have sparked interest in the students for a future in the building industry.