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The DeVries family immediately after the bus is moved, when they're able to see their new house for the first time. Photo courtesy of Albert Lea (Minn.) Tribune

Prescott business contributes to 'Makeover' home

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News Ellsworth,Wisconsin 54011 http://www.piercecountyherald.com/sites/default/files/styles/square_300/public/fieldimages/23/0613/ls-makeoversub4wow4web.jpg?itok=cG9ma16m
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Prescott business contributes to 'Makeover' home
Ellsworth Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

PRESCOTT -- It's an adage that has been uttered through time, "It's not what you know; it's who you know."

For a local Prescott business, that connection turned into a lifetime opportunity.

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The ABC-TV show "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" helped build a new home for a rural Albert Lea, Minn., family earlier this month. The show is known for providing home renovations to families facing hardships, such as a natural disaster or a family member with a life-threatening illness.

And supplying the wall panels and the foundation for their new home was a business from Prescott.

Woodmaster Foundation Systems and Edge Builder Wall Panels Inc., an outlet of Glenbrook Lumber and Supply, were one of the many crews chosen for their help in the project.

The relationship began when Larson Contracting of Lake Mills, Ia., was chosen to be a general contractor for a home renovation by "Extreme" producers. Jim Feidler, a Larson salesman and Prescott High School graduate, had maintained a friendship with fellow Prescott graduate Dan Krech, project salesman for Glenbrook Lumber. Feidler asked if Krech would be interested.

"We've built a relationship over time," Krech said. "He knew of Woodmaster's reputation in the Midwest."

Krech pitched the idea to owner Gene Heger, who was on board immediately.

"This was going to be the biggest thing in our career," Heger said.

Before

The catch was time. Feidler notified Krech on Sept. 16. Woodmaster and EdgeBuilder employees had about two weeks to design the panels and foundation because the renovation was set to begin Oct. 2.

"I think that was a huge concern at first, but as we're getting closer, the staff's anxiety is going down and their excitement and confidence is going up," Krech said before they left.

One of the rules for "Extreme Makeover" is the materials and labor are donated, meaning Woodmaster and Edge Builder's employees would be constructing the panels and foundation on their free time.

"We couldn't pull this off without them doing that," Krech said. "A lot of people stepped up and were willing to volunteer."

Heger added there was a challenge in working on this project along with their day-to-day operations for their paying customers.

"We've been busy, but it's going to be worth it," he said. "We're going to be able to go down and help this family out."

The pair also wanted to thank Ptacek's IGA for donating food during construction of the foundation and wood panels.

To see what they're getting themselves into, Krech and Heger went down to the Albert Lea area for a pep rally the last full week in September and came back impressed.

"(Extreme's) executive producer called it TV's version of a barn rising and he was right," Hager said. "Everyone is coming together to help those in need."

Krech thought the show would be more Hollywood than construction..

"The executive producer was in blue jeans and a T-shirt," he said. "It showed they're getting ready to work."

On-site

"Extreme" producers selected the Dirk and Susan DeVries family, who live outside of Albert Lea. The couple has three children--April, 17, Derik, 15, and Hanna, 12.

The family was notified Sept. 30 and was given a vacation to Niagara Falls, N.Y., for a week. The following day, "Extreme" crews removed stuff from their home, with demolition slated to start the next day.

A typical house construction takes about four months. The DeVries' new house was scheduled for 106 hours.

Krech said Woodmaster and EdgeBuilder crews arrived on scene around 2 p.m. Thursday. They had about five from their Des Moines location, five from their Oakdale, Minn., location and another six who had ties to Prescott--Krech, Heger, Project Supervisor Eric Duchnowski, Jake Boles, Josh Stodola and Don Vogl.

The crews got to work around 9 p.m. Thursday ("All eyes will be on us," Heger said. "We're leading the parade.").

Ten hours later, at 7 a.m. Friday, their work was done. Krech said that, despite a couple of delays that held them up, everything went smoothly during their portion. He believes a big factor was the design and construction was done beforehand in Prescott.

"It was clear and cool Thursday night," he said. "It felt like we wre working in a football stadium."

Krech and Heger stayed around Friday afternoon to see the windows installed, along with the steel roof and the electrical.

One thing that amazed the pair on-site was the number of volunteers.

"People were coming in waves to help," Heger said. "I bet there were about 100 people around the house just sitting there and waiting to do work." As a result, the DeVries' 3,300-square-foot home was done 10 hours ahead of schedule.

Then came last Tuesday, when the DeVries saw their new home for the first time. The family was greeted by hundreds of spectators, including Minnesota Viking cheerleaders, the University of Minnesota Gopher marching band and cheerleaders as well.

Krech and his wife were among the hundreds of spectators in the rain waiting to see the family's reaction.

And a reaction there was after host Ty Pennington said "MOVE THAT BUS."

"It was a typical 'Extreme Makeover' reaction," Krech said. "The crowd went nuts."

Summarizing the incident, the pair was just amazed.

"It was a pretty neat experience," Heger said. "I'd do it again in a heartbeat."

The show will be broadcast sometime in the next year, Heger added. For updates on the broadcast, stay tuned to www.piercecountyherald.com.

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Jason Schulte
Jason Schulte is a reporter for the New Richmond News since February 2015. Prior to that he spent eight years at the Pierce County Herald in Ellsworth. His duties with the News will include covering news out of Hammond and Roberts along with action from St. Croix County court system. He lives in Roberts. 
(715) 243-7767 x243
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