This content is in partnership with NARI Milwaukee Spring Home Improvement Show being held Feb. 15-17 at Wisconsin Expo Center.
Thousands of people will attend the NARI show this weekend to find inspiration for their home remodeling projects. Meanwhile, a representative from one of the businesses at the popular home show came to my house earlier this week.
Riemer, a former Navy serviceman, has worked in the building industry for 26 years in many different capacities. He's been with Gabor for the past 18 years.
"We’ve built entire homes, but primarily we do kitchens, bathrooms and lower level additions," says Riemer. "We’re not a cookie-cutter builder; we’re a remodeler. The sky’s the limit based on your ideas and, of course, your budget."
Riemer came to my home specifically to talk about my kitchen. I usually refer to it as "the size and shape of a stick of butter," but Riemer used less poetic words to describe the space.
"You have what we call a 1980s galley kitchen," he said. "There’s not a ton we can do in this case."
And yet, Riemer was full of ideas. Basically, and least expensively, he said we could do a straight remodel: new cabinets, new flooring, new paint. The next step up would be to add more counter space and more light via solar tubes. I had thought about skylights before, but never heard of solar tubes in the past. I was instantly intrigued.
"Solar tubes bring in more light, cost less money and don’t leak," Riemer said.
Riemer then moved on to grander options for my space. A couple of the ideas my partner and I had discussed in the past, and a couple of his ideas we’d never considered. He has a tablet full of photos of other jobs he’s done that he often referred to so we could better visualize his ideas.
"During my first visit, I come to people’s homes, ask a lot of questions and take notes, photos and measurements," says Riemer.
Within 48 hours after the meeting, Riemer emails a detailed plan with the cost. Then, if the customer wants to move forward, they are assigned to an interior designer and a project manager.
"Everyone is matched up based on their personality and the personality and tastes of the designer. I have one who is into country style, one who is uber modern and one who is very eclectic," says Riemer. "Guess which one you would get paired with?"
During our meeting, Riemer was down-to-earth, knowledgeable and direct – all of which I appreciated.
"I’m a realist. I’m not afraid to tell people they’re never gonna get their money back if they choose to spend a lot on their remodel," says Riemer. "I want them to be happy with the job but also know exactly what they are getting into."
He also admits that the remodeling process is not fun for the customer, no matter who does the job.
"Two people can have the same cabinets installed by different companies and have totally different experiences along the way," he says. "We have a 98 percent referral rate because we know this and guarantee an awesome experience. Sure, something will always go wrong. It happens with every project. But it’s OK, because we'll fix it. Quickly."
Riemer says his business has received such favorable ratings because, in part, of their communication process. The project managers connect every day with the customers and send weekly emails detailing what was accomplished the week before and the day-by-day agenda for the next week.
"We communicate so much with our customers they might get sick of us," jokes Riemer. "But seriously. We hear them and we stay with them every step – every nail – of the way."
As for my kitchen plans, I am going to seriously consider the solar tubes in the near future to bring more natural light into the space, but most likely keep my kitchen ensconced in 1986 for a few more years. After all, I have two kids on the brink of college. So for now I will remember Riemer’s ideas and fantasize about the choices I would make if I did decide to remodel. After all, daydreaming is a lot of fun, too.
If you go to the NARI Milwaukee Spring Home Improvement Show this weekend, swing by and say hi to Scott.
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.