I was about 13 years old when my dad came to my brother and I and asked if we wanted to make some money- not allowance, an hourly wage for hard work. He had become a homebuilder and was building his first home in Lakes of Cedar Grove. The thought of having a real job over just doing chores around the house was exciting! At $5.00/hr, we would be able to do anything! Money was no longer an issue! Of course, looking back, “no” was not a viable answer anyway. We would have just ended up working for free. My dad always told us he believed in child labor laws- if you were a child in the Gustafson house, you were going to labor. So, we put on some old clothes, grabbed a shovel, wheelbarrow, and rake, and my dad drove us to the place where we would experience our first day of hard work. When we got there, I stepped out of the truck and onto the dusty, hot job site. It was covered with busted bricks, bags of mortar, and loose plastic. We were the cleanup crew. So, we started. This was nothing like cleaning up our rooms (or even our whole house). This was the biggest mess I’d ever seen in my life! It would take forever to clean up! But we kept on… trying to break the boredom by pretending the wheelbarrow was a basketball goal as we through bricks in. We built ramps to help us run the wheelbarrow full of heavy trash into the dumpster. It probably took us a week to complete that job, only to find the next crew would mess it all up again. We developed a system though. The next house my dad started only took us a couple of days at a time to clean up; then, just one day. We were getting faster at what we were doing. We were getting better, and we had stepped into something that would have as much impact on our lives as our family themselves… homebuilding.
What started out as a new business for a young father and a first job for two boys, turned into something that would continue to mold us in the men we would become for years. Some of the most sobering moments of our lives happened on those job sites. I remember my dad tearing up as we stood by a fire on one of the jobs in 2004 and talked about my grandfather, cousin, and great uncle who would all die a month apart that year. I laughed with friends that worked with us through the years. I learned how to frame walls, install flooring, and paint. The company brought my family closer together. On more than one occasion, I jumped into jobs bigger than one man could handle, only to have my dad and brother run to my aid. For years, I worked in the blistering heat and the rainy cold, for the sake of raising one more home! We built something bigger than we thought our family would ever be able to, only to watch it take countless beatings by a failing economy in 2007-2009. Then, we began working to build it back strong again. Gustafson Properties has given us priceless memories and heartaches all at the same time. Years of hard work gave my dad back problems. At the same time, framing punch-outs, flooring jobs, and long days of throwing sod brought us closer together.
Why do we build?
It’s rewarding. To take a piece of land, clean it off, and construct a home from the ground up is an amazing experience. To drive through neighborhoods years later and watch couples working in their yard, taking pride in their home and knowing that we were the ones who put it there, gives us a sense of satisfaction that is different from any other. When we meet with customers about building a home, we get asked a lot of questions. Very rarely (if ever) have I been asked why we build. In my opinion, it is one of the most important questions to ask. You wouldn’t want a teacher teaching your children because she likes the work schedule or a doctor performing heart surgery on your loved one because he likes the pay! People that do work they are passionate about doing excel over people that are in that line of work for other reasons! We build homes because we love the art of building. We love implementing new designs and features into our homes! We love the excitement of starting a new home and the satisfaction of seeing the finished product! Everyone should know a little about their builder before they purchase a new home. That’s just a little about Gustafson Properties!
“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might…”