Monday, May 3, 2021

CVTC Building Houses, Partnerships

Article Photo - CVTC Building Houses, Partnerships

CVTC Residential Construction Program Director Brian Barth, left, talks with Matt Schumacher of C&M Construction at the site of construction of a new twin home in Eau Claire this spring. CVTC is now working with private contractors who are the owners of the class home construction project.

In 2010, Matt Schumacher, a recent high school graduate from Ladysmith, joined fellow Chippewa Valley Technical College Residential Construction students in building a house. Now, with 10 years under his belt as a professional in the field, Schumacher is the construction manager for the twin home the current Residential Construction students are building.

Schumacher admits, though, that Program Director Brian Barth is handling the day-to-day project management as well as the instruction and supervision of the students, just as he has always done. What brought the alumnus Schumacher into the picture is a partnership in which CVTC works with a private construction company that owns the project and will sell the home when completed.

This is the second year that Schumacher’s employer, C&M Home Builders of Eau Claire, has worked with CVTC to the benefit of both the company and the College. CVTC’s Residential Construction program in River Falls has the same agreement with Lund Builders.

Adam Wehling, dean of agriculture, energy and transportation at CVTC, explains that the program had been building houses on its own previously. CVTC would buy the land, order supplies, hire subcontractors, and sell the home to recoup costs.

“We would do everything, even act as a real estate agent in selling the home,” Barth said. Wehling noted that a few years ago, CVTC had partnerships with the Chippewa County Housing Authority and Lyman Lumber that took some of the pressure off the CVTC program leaders. The arrangements worked out well, so the College has turned back to active partnerships in a more comprehensive fashion.

“It’s better to partner with someone so the College doesn’t carry the financial risk,” Wehling said, explaining that if the housing market turned volatile, there would be no guarantee CVTC would get its investment back, leaving taxpayers to absorb the loss. “Our partnerships continue to evolve. This is a good one that’s working well right now.”

“Partnering with CVTC for the last two years building twin homes has been great for our company and CVTC,” said Cody Filipczak, owner of C&M. “It allows us to build another property we wouldn’t be able to otherwise, and it gives CVTC the opportunity to build two properties in one. It is a win-win for both of us, and hopefully we can continue the partnership going forward.”

“The partnership benefits Lund and the CVTC program,” said Tami Kucera, owner of Lund Builders with her husband, Todd. “It supports the industry by bringing in the next generation of builders. And it frees up our workers for other projects.”

“There’s a whole lot less risk and less on my and CVTC’s shoulders,” Barth said. “Justin Borgwardt at the River Falls program and I can concentrate on teaching and managing the house projects. The day-to-day difference with the C&M partnership is that we don’t have to look over invoices or do purchase orders. On all the deliveries and supplies, I work closely with C&M. We don’t hire the subcontractors, but we are in charge of the scheduling when it’s time to install the plumbing or electrical.”

Schumacher learned the trade through the CVTC program and he’s still a fan of it. It allowed him to secure an internship with C&M, then work his way up to foreman and now as a project manager. Seeing how he has succeeded as a graduate shows current students what’s possible for them.

“The partnership helps us at C&M, too,” Schumacher said. “It provides future employees and helps us build more homes.”

“The CVTC Residential Construction program is very important for our industry,” Filipczak said. “There is a large labor shortage right now which is having a big effect on housing prices and timing. A lot of our best carpenters graduated from CVTC, including Matt, who is now a construction manager and shareholder. The program has benefited our company greatly and has also benefited a lot of students who now have good jobs.”

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