C&M Home Builders
Constructing ‘Long Lasting Relationships’
With a keen knowledge of the area and putting clients first, C & M Home Builders build a leading path to 2024
As a leading home builder in the Midwest, C&M Home Builders has been constructing homes in the Eau Claire, Wisconsin area for over 20 years. Serving a 50-mile radius in West Central Wisconsin with an unwavering focus on quality and customer service, the highly experienced custom homes builder has built an impressive number of new homes designed for the specifics of the local market.
As Cody Filipczak, Co-Owner of C&M Home Builders expertly points out, the company conducts business with the motto, “Whatever you do, do it well.”
C&M started in a garage and has since grown into a business with more than 50 employees who are responsible for a wide range of new homes, from affordable, starter homes for young professionals and families to million-dollar homes for owners who desire comfort and luxury.
The successful home builder was created by developing long-lasting relationships with suppliers, customers, and the community in general. Filipczak developed connections within the industry, seeking and partnering with the most qualified and reliable contractors in areas like electrical, plumbing, and more.
Given the relatively rural characteristics of the Chippewa Valley area, residents know other residents and word-of-mouth recommendations are critical. According to Filipczak, some of the company’s earliest customers remain close to him today.
“A lot of our customers from when we first started years ago have become lifelong friends today,” Filipczak says.
C&M professionals work closely with every customer, from conceptual design to the final walkthrough, to ensure that a customer’s building experience is stress-free and lives up to their vision. Filipczak continues to work with colleagues to expand and build new customer relations while consistently maintaining existing customer relationships. Adds Filipczak, “How you show up and the quality of your product will help to sell what you do.”
A story of growth
The last few years have been an interesting time for the home construction industry. C&M was selling and was set to construct nearly 120 homes per year when the pandemic first arrived in March 2020. That volume was maintained throughout the next couple of years even though demand went “through the roof” as families and individuals saved more money, spending some of it to purchase new homes.
According to Filipczak, demand alone would have allowed his business to expand by 500 percent or more, however between the shortage of labor and the challenging nature of securing building supplies, the company was able to maintain its volume.
Throughout the pandemic and as the world adjusted to a new normal, constructing homes became twice as difficult as before, and some of those challenges remain today even though COVID has become a manageable endemic. Even with moderating building supply prices, and more availability of those supplies and some labor, COVID exposed some weaknesses in the company’s operations that have since been remedied.
“(COVID) made us stronger as a company which is good because we preach about the importance of never forgetting (how important) learning is,” Filipczak says.
For example, C&M has instituted new processes such as expanded lead times based on material shortages, he says. The company has also updated how it creates pre-construction schedules to help give customers more time to make decisions on what they want their new house to be like.
C&M has also “locked in” its pricing and invested in new software to streamline operations and estimates. The existence of automation and artificial intelligence makes it easier to improve these efficiencies, Cody says. The company however needs to remain committed to this effort.
“We really (built) this business just before the 2008 housing crisis and I think that helped us,” Filipczak says. “We learned how to get by during some lean times for the industry and we learned quite a bit during COVID as well. These are the times when (a business) gets tougher.”
Focus on Energy Certified New Home Program
C&M Home Builders is an ardent supporter of the Focus on Energy Certified New Home Program, available in Wisconsin. The program matches homebuyers with homebuilders to allow for building a new home that is up to 100 percent more energy efficient than the average new home built in the state.
Every home constructed under the program is between 25 to 100 percent more efficient than homes built to Wisconsin’s residential building minimum codes.
Every home built by C&M over the last 10 years has followed guidelines for the Focus on Energy program, Filipczak highlights.
That includes homes built at every price level. As a supporting consultant of the program C&M team members ensure all new homes meet the highest standards for energy efficiency, combustion safety, comfort, and durability, creating added value for homeowners.
The increased energy efficiency will help homeowners realize lower energy bills, experience increased comfort, and ensure high quality and resale value. Says Filipczak, “This is important for our customers and it’s important to us.”
Treating its employees with respect while creating opportunities for aspiring professionals
A company is only as good as its employees so C&M’s management works hard to ensure that employees have growth opportunities and can realize a good work/life balance. The company has several employees who have been there for more than 10 years as a result. Filipczak says the goal is to treat everyone with respect, pay them fair wages, and provide employees with benefits. Many homebuilders treat their employees as contractors and don’t offer full benefits that include medical, dental, and retirement plans.
C&M even goes the extra mile, offering a generous maternity leave package. It also holds various events for employees during the year like an annual holiday party.
Filipczak also recognizes the challenge of the national and regional skilled labor shortage in the business. That’s why C&M helped build a youth apprenticeship program for high school students in school districts from around the Chippewa Valley area. That lack of labor is the number one reason according to Filipczak that home prices nationally are so high – it’s expensive to pay the people needed to get the job done.
“When you create something with your hands it is extremely rewarding work,” Filipczak says, adding, “You can have a very long and successful career.”
C&M worked with five apprentices in 2023 but it keeps getting harder to not only find students with an interest in the trade, but the dedication and commitment to succeed at a high level, according to Filipczak. Regardless, the company remains committed to working with local school districts to promote apprenticeships and give young people the opportunity to discover if homebuilding could be a career of interest.
“We’ll keep (the program) running because we need to,” Filipczak says. “The health of our industry is at stake.”
Even with family changes the focus on business remains
Filipczak admits that running a business with a spouse or close family member can be difficult. He and his former wife, Molly built the company together, each owning a 50 percent ownership share. As the two built the business and their family, Filipczak admits there were challenging times that eventually led to the two divorcing four years ago.
However, both are still partners in the business today and Cody says they remain “best friends,” adding that the divorce was for the best. They enjoy working together and with their team members to provide exemplary service. While Filipczak is not as involved in individual projects as he used to be, he and Molly together oversee the business and represent the C&M Home Builders brand.
“I’m proud of the fact that we still work so closely and so well together,” Filipczak says.
Partners support the vision of growth
Having partners that mirror the emphasis on customer quality and vision helps C&M maintain its positive brand in central Wisconsin. The company works with contractors who have also built sustainable businesses over the years to provide an array of services. C&M employs a staff of professionals who specialize in painting, and frame and trim work, but contract many other services out to a trusted group of experts.
One of the goals for C&M is to expand its commercial business, Filipczak notes. More neighborhoods in the Chippewa Valley region are being zoned for mixed-use, providing added opportunities. It’s an effective way to help families get into gentrified neighborhoods to support diversity and affordability, Filipczak points out. Outside of that, he wants to continue offering high-quality new homes in all sizes and for all price ranges.
“How you build a house hasn’t changed much over the years and labor is a challenge, but I am excited about the future,” Filipczak concludes.
AT A GLANCE
C&M Home Builders
What: A home builder near Eau Claire, Wisconsin with a 20-year history of serving customers in a 50-mile radius in West Central Wisconsin.