The American Dream in Small Town America
Nestled on the edge of the quaint little town of Amherst, WI (pop. 1001) lies a 130,000 square foot manufacturing facility, complete with a large American flag to remind passers by of our fallen hero’s sacrifice. Inside that facility you will find some of the most dedicated, inventive, and hardworking people in the building industry, along with some pretty cool state of the art manufacturing equipment.
But it didn’t start out this way. Blenker Companies, Inc. was founded back in 1974, by husband and wife, Peter Blenker and Pamela Jewell. Peter had worked for a local building contractor for several years, and shortly after successfully completing his carpentry apprenticeship had decided it was time for him to go out on his own.
After selling his 1969 Camaro to put a down payment on a fixer upper home in town, and purchasing an old telephone truck, Peter got to work doing small additions and remodels. In between working her shifts as a nurse at a local veteran’s home, Pamela would meet with clients to determine their needs and sell the jobs. As a team, they evolved into building custom homes for clients around the area, becoming well known for their design build capabilities.
Their business would evolve over the years, from simple remodeling projects, all the way up to multi-family and commercial buildings. Along the way they shifted their business away from hard bidding projects, and took on a design build approach to building custom homes. “By working closely with the client’s vision and budget, we are able to focus more of our time in helping making selection and design decisions to truly give the clients a one of a kind home within their budget, rather than wasting that time bidding multiple projects,” said Pamela. “We made that shift in the early ‘80’s and haven’t looked back,” she continues, “it must be working, we’re still around, and it’s humbling to see a home you built 25 years ago come up on the market and that the realtors still put that it’s a Blenker home in the listing.”
In the mid ‘90’s Blenker began pre-building some of the elements of their homes in their shop “to keep the guys busy on bad days,” remarks Peter on why he starting building indoors. “Along the way, we figured out that it was a much more efficient process, by organizing materials and work centers we were able to build more houses, and build them more accurately.”
In 2000, after moving back from the east coast and working for a large production builder, Peter & Pamela’s son, Jason, got involved in the family business. “I realized that we were really good at framing homes and our pre-building of wall panels, trusses, and other components and that was a big growth opportunity for our business,” said Jason, “I started reaching out to other builders to see if we could add value to them.” Jason has been responsible for growing the structural building component business, known as Blenker Building Systems, from that point forward, growing the business from 6-10 homes a year, to providing components for over 600 homes annually with a seven state reach. Peter & Pamela’s other two sons, Justin and Kristifer, also joined the firm in 2007 and 2008. Justin oversees the IT and design department, and Kristifer is a master welder helping with structural steel projects. Visit some Blenker websites at: