Wausau is about to become the fourth location for Wisconsin-based Tundraland, a storefront home improvement service
Tundraland stresses customer service, community involvement and company culture in its business of home improvement projects.
Brian Gottlieb, president of home remodeling company Tundraland, noticed how Wausau has embraced music, the arts and a sense of place. That’s why he picked the city for the newest location of his growing company with 180-plus employees.
In January, Tundraland will open a showroom on Third Street, in the downtown storefront that once housed Clay Corner and then Kidz Closet before remaining empty for most of 2017. Tundraland’s plans also include an off-site warehouse. Its service area covers most of eastern, southern, and central Wisconsin, with other store locations in Milwaukee, Madison, and Kaukauna (corporate headquarters).
It’s perhaps a direct testament to the idea that building a sense of place is economic development—the community’s culture was a major factor in choosing Wausau for Tundraland’s new location, which ultimately will add 60 jobs to the area. Those jobs will include builders, designers, sales people and marketers, Gottlieb says.
People told Gottlieb he was crazy when he decided in 2009 to launch a home remodeling business, after working in the industry as a consultant. Gottlieb himself knew it was risky to start a company during the Great Recession, in an industry that was suffering the most.
As a consultant, Gottlieb had seen what worked and what didn’t. Starting with a foldout table in a warehouse in Kaukauna and $3,000, Gottlieb built a company that today covers nearly half the state. Back then, each remodeling project counted, and each sale was a step toward survival. Tundraland’s employees still treat each sale that way, says Gottlieb, who stresses that employees work each job as if they were working on their own home. “I look for people who want to be developed, who want to learn and want to grow,” Gottlieb says. “We want people who share our philosophy and how we give back to the community.”
Company culture, both internally and externally, has been a key to Tundraland’s success, Gottlieb says. Tundraland provides benefits such as school loan repayments. In Appleton, near its Kaukauna headquarters, it’s the title sponsor of Mile of Music, a four-day event with more than 250 bands performing. And it partnered with several other companies across the country to start a program called Baths for the Brave, helping to provide accessibility home features to veterans with mobility issues.
Tundraland’s website shows the remodeling work— bathrooms, outdoor spaces and decks, and windows especially made for Wisconsin weather—uses materials that are Wisconsin or U.S.-sourced. The company promotes efficiency, too, with a program in which they can build a deck in one day.
Tundraland is more than a home remodeling service, says Gottlieb. He wants the company to do good in the communities they’re involved in. Wausau can expect the same treatment, he says. “We can be a catalyst… in helping to provide a place that helps and supports local artists and keep a skilled workforce in town,” Gottlieb says. “Wausau gets it when it comes to community.” For more info see tundraland.com.