Gary Kraemer, co-founder of John Kraemer and Sons, readily admits he is only as good as the team he has assembled, so he has made sure to assemble a winning team. He also believes in giving back to the communities in which he works by donating services to a charitable cause each year, a value he learned from his late father, John, co-founder of the artisan homebuilding company.
Philanthropy is a value that Kraemer has also successfully passed on to his sons, John and Jeffrey, who are now the third generation of Kraemers helping to manage the 39-year-old, family owned firm. This year, Kraemer and Sons is remodeling—at below cost—a historical school house for Freedom Farm Therapeutic Riding Center, in Waverly, an organization dedicated to helping at-risk and challenged youth.
“The best way to learn the homebuilding business is to grow up in it,” says Gary. “In our office alone, there are 12-plus people whose fathers were builders.” The firm employs a total of 48 people, and in a typical year, builds 10 to 12 homes in the $1.5-million-plus price range throughout the metro area as well as in the lake country of Minnesota and Wisconsin.
John Kraemer and Sons is the only homebuilder to be named Minnesota Builder of the Year three times, in 1999, 2009, and 2013. The award given by the Builders Association of the Twin Cities is presented to a member who best exemplifies trust, communication, ethics, and customer satisfaction. Gary Kraemer is also one of only two builders in the Minneapolis–St. Paul area and only 2,300 nationwide to have earned the Certified Graduate Builder designation.
The firm prides itself on focusing solely on high-quality construction. Instead of having an in-house design team, Kraemer and Sons works with outside architects and designers. “It’s a matchmaking process,” says Kraemer. “Sometimes we make the match between our client and the architect and designers, and sometimes our clients come to us with their own plans or architect.”
The firm employs 12 job superintendents, several project managers, and a handful of finish carpenters. With such a large staff, all of the firm’s new home projects have a dedicated job superintendent. A typical luxury home built by John Kraemer and Sons takes between nine months and 2 years, depending on the size and complexity of the home.
“It’s a user-friendly process. We adapt our process to the needs of our clients, most of whom are very busy people,” says Gary. “We have tailored our process to meet the time needs and availability of our clients.”
Nearly all of the firm’s business comes from former clients and friends of clients, a testament to its transparency and superior quality construction as well as to the satisfaction of its homeowners.
“Each one of our projects is managed on a 100 percent open book basis, where every bid, invoice, and receipt is available for client review at any time,” says Vice President John Kraemer. “We believe that full transparency is the best policy.” The homebuilder also passes along discounts it receives to the homeowner.
By Fran Howard
Photography by Meghan Doll