June 15, 2021
By David Nordby
The Brillion News
This story first appeared in the May 27, 2021 print edition of The Brillion News.
BRILLION – When Jeremy Eickert was approached by John School about taking over ownership of School Home Improvements, it helped fulfill a lifelong goal of Jeremy’s.
Jeremy and his wife, Ashley, have owned the Brillion mainstay company since the start of this year.
Now officially under the name Eickert School Home Improvements, the company will continue to serve the area with vinyl window replacements as it has since 1985.
“We discussed the pros and cons for a little while, and I jumped on it,” Jeremy said.
Jeremy grew up on a farm just outside of Brillion. When he was just 16, he started in construction for Mertens Quality Homes and worked there for seven years. He moved on to Keller and worked there for 13 years as a lead man and then a foreman.
“I planned on being at Keller my entire life,” Jeremy said.
While School was visiting with Jeremy and Ashley about window replacements, he asked Jeremy if he would ever be interested in taking over the business.
Up to that point, Jeremy said, had never considered the possibility of taking over for School.
“I always had it in the back of my mind since the day I started in the construction business, of eventually owning my own business, and after working at Keller that long, I was in a good position,” Jeremy said.
But when School asked him, Jeremy said, it was the chance to fulfill a lifelong goal.
The pros heavily outweighed the cons. Jeremy said it gave him the opportunity to meet people and customers, be his own boss and give him control of his work. At Keller, Jeremy worked out of town an average of four months of the year.
Jeremy says he enjoys the residential aspect of construction.
“From building a house to putting siding on, to the design part of it, making things fit, helping a customer see their dream, make their vision come to life” Jeremy said.
Since Jeremy started in construction at 16, the industry has seen changes. The price of lumber and other supplies is at an all-time high, which is out of his control. Modern projects have become more complex beyond a traditional four-wall home. There are more options for types of siding and insulation. Materials are made for different elements.
“Now you’ve got just about everything on a house,” Jeremy said. “There’s so many different types.”
There are less workers in the construction field than when Jeremy started in 2000.
“There’s not a lot of kids out there that want to do this trade anymore. I don’t think there’s a lot of people out there creating an interest for the trade,” Jeremy said. “It’s hard finding guys who want to get down and dirty and do the work.”
With Eickert School Home Improvements, Jeremy hopes to maintain the culture that School implemented.
“[John’s] been a super, super guy and I’m so fortunate to have had this opportunity that he gave me to take over,” Jeremy said. “And he’s still going to work for me. He says three years, but I think it’s going to be hopefully longer than that. He does a great job for us.”
The employees who have worked for years with School remain with the Eickerts.
“I give a lot of credit to John, but a lot of credit obviously to his guys,” Jeremy said. “Having [those] guys is huge for me.”
Jeremy says he enjoys the aspect of knowing his customers in a city the size of Brillion and says he plans to find causes to donate to be involved with the community.
On the business side, he hopes to add more projects beyond windows to expand the company’s jobs.
“We have a window crew, we have a siding crew, now I can go frame a house or frame a garage,” Jeremy said.
It is a family business for Jeremy. His sister-in-law handles the bookwork. Ashley plans to help more with the company’s odds and ends. Jeremy hopes to keep the company around the same size overall with a few more housing and garage bids each year.
“Now that I have myself and another guy out in the field that I just hired, we’re able to do more garages, bid on a couple more houses than John usually did, but my big thing would be keep it as is, keep the windows going 100 percent. I don’t want to lose that at all,” Jeremy said.