A new chapter

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When Craig and David Jorgensen assumed leadership positions at Voss Jorgensen Schueler Co. Inc. (VJS) in 1999 as president and executive vice president, the brothers planned to increase the Waukesha-based construction company’s number of clients, projects and employees while keeping customer service the top priority.
Six years later, under the leadership of the Jorgensen brothers, the company has doubled its revenues and staff. Expected revenue for VJS in 2005 is $100 million, up from $56 million in 1999, and employees have increased from 100 in 1999 to 200 in 2005, Craig said.
In conjunction with a planned move to a larger space in June, VJS is planning a re-branding effort, including a name change designed to help the company retain new clients and encompass the new company culture that has been created by the brothers.
The Voss Jorgensen Schueler Co. name is commonly mistaken for a law firm to people who are not familiar with the company, David said. Craig and David declined to disclose the new name of the company.
The new location of VJS is a 42,000-square-foot warehouse space located at W233 N2847 Roundy Circle West in Pewaukee. The structure previously housed Wisconsin Lift Truck Corp.
VJS hopes the building, which is nearly double the size of its current facility, will act as a catalyst for further growth of the company. VJS purchased the building for $2 million and has invested $1.5 million in remodeling and retrofitting. Milwaukee-based Kahler Slater Architects designed the building. Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan Inc. purchased VJS’s current building at 2000 W. Bluemound Road, Waukesha.
Craig and David strive to keep the vision that Gary Jorgensen, their father, and Tom Schueler promoted when they took over the company in the late 1970s. The brothers focus on quality and customer service, Craig said.
“The way we take care of clients is the same way Gary Jorgensen and Tom Schueler were doing it,” he said. “The customer is No. 1, and we add value to the customer and the project through speed, technology and looking ahead to what the customer needs to do the day after they move in.”
Currently, Gary acts as chairman of the company and Schueler as president emeritus.
The leadership team at VJS consists of five executives with different specialties and was another factor in the company’s growth spurt, Craig said. The addition of the non-family leadership of Rick Andritsch as vice president of business development, Chad Bathke as senior project manager and Chris SuavŽ as vice president has given the previously family-owned and operated business an added level of expertise and an edge in the market, Craig said.
“We recognize our capabilities are limited,” David said. “Three members are non-family and have a certain expertise. We rounded out the team and try to have an owner involved in each project.”
Bathke has expertise in building schools and educational facilities. SuavŽ has expertise in building senior care and elderly care facilities and Andritsch has a specialty in business development, Craig said.
“With the new leadership, we are taking the next step,” he said. “We took the time to reconnect with our customers, architects and employees.”
VJS surveyed clients, employees, vendors and subcontractors when discussing possible changes to the firm, David said. That feedback was used in making the decisions about moving the company, changing its name and rebranding, Craig said.
“We wanted to be able to cater to what our customers were looking for,” he said. “We have had some terrific customers who have allowed us to work for them as they grow, and we have had terrific employees who do it right and well the first time.”
About 75 percent of VJS projects are repeat clients or referrals, Craig said.
“The key to what we do is scheduling and budget,” Craig said.
The design of the new building will be used as a marketing tool for prospective clients. The design is intended to show clients the process of building.
“It was an existing warehouse building that we purchased and are retrofitting,” David said. “Duct and electrical work will be exposed. We will have a wood panel exterior which is unique to the area and exposed stamped concrete. There will be an openness to the whole system.”
“We want to take the time to educate children about the construction trades (when doing a school building project),” Craig said. “We start training and show them that it is a neat thing to do as a career.”
Students in elementary schools where VJS is doing a building project are able to mix concrete, see how electrical systems work and learn the construction industry in a hands-on way, instead of a theory, David said.
Craig and David are looking forward to a more efficient company with the new building and new name. The added space will allow VJS to have a larger warehouse space, more conference rooms, training rooms for project managers, sectioned departments and room for growth for an estimated 10 years, Craig said.
The next stage of growth for VJS depends on the company adding more projects and employees, Craig said.
“We are a very diverse contractor,” Craig said. “In the early 1990s and 2000s, so many markets had a wide array of talent that we can build any commercial project. From customer requests to senior management who run the jobs, we can do more than one type of project. We are not just niche-based. We have a wide variety of capabilities.”
Voss Jorgensen Schueler Co., Inc.
Founded: 1947
Leadership: Gary Jorgensen, chairman; Tom Schueler, president emeritus; Craig Jorgensen, president; David Jorgensen, executive vice president; Chris SuavŽ, vice president; Rick Andritsch, vice president of business development; and Chad Bathke, senior project manager
Location: 2000 W. Bluemound Road, Waukesha
Employees: 200
Web site: www.vjscom.com
April 29, 2005, Small Business Times, Milwaukee, WI

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