Jim & Marc Burkholder featured in The Builder's Journal Northwest Michigan Edition in June 2007
Constructing high-performance homes is easy, if you understand a few fundamentals.
Burkholder Construction’s “Up North” home features include custom doors made from Brazilian cherry, maple and mahogany, a completely integrated “smart-house system” with computerized controls for temperature, lighting, audio and video throughout the home. Photo by Williamson Photography ©.
The Tools of The Trade at Burkholder Construction: Trust, Communication, and a Half-century of Experience
By Keith Gave
Before even thinking about putting a shovel in the ground to build one of those spectacular homes out on the Old Mission Peninsula, or any of the myriad commercial buildings that have been constructed around the Traverse City area, the folks at Burkholder Construction first set out to build a relationship. “It’s important that there is good communication – and trust,” said Jim Burkholder, the second of three generations of this industrious family owned company. “Trust is the key factor. From the time of the initial contact to the finished product, we are spending approximately a year to a year and a half with a client.”
“When we build a home, we are also building a lasting relationship,” said Marc Burkholder, Jim’s son, the
company’s vice president for sales and operations. “And as long as the owners live in their house, we will be taking care of it. We take that very seriously.”
It’s been that way for more than a half-century, which explains why Burkholder Construction – started in
1955 when Everett Burkholder began to expand his roofing business – is today one of the better known and
respected builders in the Grand Traverse Area.
The Burkholder philosophy states that any project should be enjoyable and rewarding for everyone involved – builder and client as well as employees and subcontractors. The final result, whether it’s a dental office or a 5,000-square-front beach home, will be something not only distinctive but solidly constructed and energy efficient. “Our reputation reflects the quality built into each of our projects,” said Jim Burkholder, who believes the word “quality” has been so over-used by so many that it has lost its significance.
“We sell value, value means getting a full return on your investment.” “Our goal is to build exactly what the client wants. That can be a little tricky, because sometimes they are not sure of what that is.”
Jim continues, “We draw on our experience and spend as much time as necessary explaining their options and the process. We work very hard to meet and exceed our clients expectations and complete their project on budget and on time.” On budget and on time.
“This is the foundation of the company and a testament of how my father has grown and directed our operations,” Marc said. “We are very straightforward about our projects including the costs and timelines. We don’t try to entice people with unrealistic projections.” Their homeowners will attest to that. “The biggest thing we appreciated was how up-front Burkholder Construction was about the cost,” Dr. Ann Kuenker, of Elk Rapids, said in a recommendation letter. “They were very realistic, and their bids were very, very accurate. I would build another home in a minute with them.” Burkholder has scores of similar happy clients throughout northwest Michigan. In more than five decades the organization’s projects consist of new home construction, new commercial buildings, remodeling homes and building additions, remodeling commercial buildings, office buildouts, insurance restoration and custom carpentry projects.
The company’s footprint is all around the Traverse area, and its history is punctuated by eras of remarkable achievement. From 1982-90, for instance, Burkholder completed more than 10 stores in the Cherryland Mall, while restoring several downtown Traverse City storefronts and interiors. In the 1990s, it completed additions and alterations on seven Prevo Family Markets (now Glen’s), built five new dental office buildings and handled several projects in the then-new Grand Traverse Mall. In 1995, when Marc Burkholder joined the company, it completed the 18,000-square-foot Terra Energy building, at the time, its largest-ever commercial office building project. For eight years, beginning in 1996, Burkholder participated in the custom home boom, and completed its 25th showplace house on Old Mission Peninsula in 2004. The Burkholders enjoy a nice mix of both commercial and custom-home building, with each offering a unique set of challenges.
A cooks delight! State-of-the-art appliances, combined with beautiful custom-made, eucalyptus cabinets are topped with brilliant granite counters. The expansive space provides ample storage and work surfaces. Photo by Burkholder Construction. A volume ceiling creates space while a large expanse of stacked windows drenches this elegant, formal dining room in natural light. The fireplace with custom surround, mantel and hearth, is one of five throughout the home. Photo by Williamson Photography ©.
Just one of the unique features showcased in this architect’s home on Old Mission Peninsula, is the eucalyptus and maple striped floor in the living room. Eucalyptus was selected for its sustainability and striking effect. Photo by Williamson Photography ©.
A Home Theater room that effects all the senses. From soft and comfortable stadium seating to high definition surround sound and visuals, this space really satisfies. Photo by Williamson Photography ©.
Marc also acknowledged that there is still something special about a true custom-built home project. “We not only bring the vision of our clients’ new home to life, but we also work hard to exceed their expectations on the entire home building process.” For example, the 3,600-square-foot beach house on Old Mission Peninsula-at least it looks like a beach house from the curb. Inside, however, it’s a work of contemporary art, boasting custom-designed and built eucalyptus cabinets and trim, striped eucalyptus and maple floors, split-stone accents and fireplace and a two-sided fireplace in the master suite. An architect lives there.
“It’s an honor to do projects for architects,” said Marc Burkholder, who counts three home designers among his company’s building clients in recent years. “It’s a nice compliment that they would hire us to work on their own homes.”
Another of those Old Mission Peninsula homes is a grand, 4,300-squarefoot, fieldstone-accented residence tucked amid trees and water on an irregularly shaped piece of land. It features a completely round turret designed for an upstairs office and a downstairs sunroom. It also features custom mahogany trim and cabinets in the turret, lots of indigenous fieldstone, a custom-built cherry kitchen, including cabinets and floors, a cedar shake roof and siding, a family sized fieldstone fireplace, and an all-cedar den and game room.
On another of their projects, an appealing “Up North” home, some unique features included custom doors made from Brazilian cherry, maple and mahogany, a completely integrated “smart-house system” with computerized controls for temperature, lighting, audio and video throughout the home. And for all that extraordinary work, the Burkholders say they’re the lucky ones. Jim states, “We can only build what people allow us to build. We have been fortunate to have some great customers and we’re thankful for that.”
“We not only bring the vision of our clients’ new home to life, but we also work hard to exceed their expectations on the entire home building process.” A spacious cottage kitchen entertains guests and homeowners with a cozy kind of comfort. Nostalgic custom made cabinets and bright white bead board ceiling combined with casual seating and dining areas define the space. Photo by Williamson Photography ©.
If the company has a signature, it is in “green” building. Not only do all of their homes now earn an Energy Star Rating, but Burkholder has been incorporating energy-efficient, environmentally conscious design and construction before it was a recognized system. “We were doing it before it got a name,” Jim Burkholder said. The company learned a lot when Max Strickland, one of its long-time employees, was building his own dream home. His wife had developed multiple chemical sensitivity problems related to several of the products used in the construction process. Subsequently Max and the company set out to learn much about air quality, alternative building materials, different building techniques and philosophies. This led to construction of a custom built health house following Lung Association guidelines with incorporation of many cutting-edge products and associated building techniques in 1997.
“Max is very passionate about it,” Marc Burkholder said, noting that Strickland also spearheaded the drive to raise awareness on “green building” in general among Traverse-area builders. He headed the original Grand Traverse Area Home Builder Association’s Green Build Committee, which, to this day is renowned within the State and beyond. “Every project is exciting,” Marc Burkholder said. “Every single one of them is unique. We really are bringing dreams to life. When you can do that for people, it is very rewarding.”
The Builder’s Journal congratulates Jim and Marc Burkholder and the entire Burkholder Construction team on their achievements. We wish them continued success.
Jim states, “We can only build what people allow us to build. We have been fortunate to have some great customers and we’re thankful for that.” TBJ
This stately home has earned the 5 Star Energy Rating, as do all of Burkholder’s homes which incorporate energy-efficient, environmentally conscious design and construction. The exterior is a combination of brick, Chilton stone, limestone and EIFS, an exterior insulation finish system. Photo by Williamson Photography ©.