Dick Froze, President
Remodeling is more than just a profession to Richard “Dick” Froze, it is his passion.
“A passion for the form of art we work in – the shelter industry,” he said. “For me, the juice is watching the whole thing take place – it’s artistry in motion and then watching clients’ reactions as they see their vision come to life.”
Although Froze Design Build was established in 1984, Dick Froze has been in the profession much longer, as a carpenter, as an artist, and with a background in architectural salvage.
“As Milwaukee took down buildings for freeway expansions, I salvaged pieces. I acquired a passion for houses built at the turn of the century. I got a good education in evaluating superior quality and being able to appreciate how building elements were put together. To get it out of the house, I had to take the big pieces apart, and that’s how I learned how it was put together.”
Dick’s love with the remodeling industry is deep rooted, beginning when he was just a child. Dick’s dad was an engineer, but his side love was tearing houses apart, and Dick began to cultivate that interest too, beginning by driving construction equipment when he was still in high school.
He studied architecture and business at UWM, and honed his skills by joining the carpentry union and becoming a master carpenter, working on projects from million dollar homes to commercial businesses.
His love of creative art and architecture eventually led him to Key West in the 1970s as a photographer, jewelry maker, and even as a scuba diver with the renowned Mel Fisher, who gathered antiquities from ship wrecks. He often exhibited at shows with the Sunshine Artists Guild.
After several years of enjoying the Florida Keys, Dick returned to Wisconsin to be closer to family and established his business. He quickly built a reputation for remodeling period homes, building and designing spaces that would match or complement existing architecture. “Every job presented a unique opportunity to make something appropriate to the style of the home,” he said.
Dick doesn’t limit himself to historical properties. He has a solid reputation for working with many periods and styles, each meticulously remodeled to suit the character of the home as well as the homeowners’ needs and wants.
Dick characterizes his design approach as “thinking out of the box.” He has a unique ability to envision the transformation of a space – often before the homeowners themselves are able to express it.
“I put myself in their position and help them understand the issues and the process,” he said. “I ask them why they want something done and how they think they are going to do it. I want them to be comfortable and knowledgeable. We like our clients to be actively engaged in an idea exchange, but the key to that is total honesty. If a homeowner has an idea, but I can see that it will not work in their home, I will tell them so. We have found that constant communication is critical to the success of the remodeling process.
“When I was chairman of the Milwaukee NARI Ethics Committee, I arbitrated disputes between homeowners and contractors. I learned that 99 percent of them arose because of poor communication. That taught me to be more succinct with communication.”
The Froze design team and construction crew also share Dick’s commitment to quality design and construction. “My staff is dedicated; it’s more than just a job for them. From the first meeting to the final walk-through, they are there to insure your complete satisfaction with every step of your project. Ultimately our goal at Froze Design Build is to take your ideas and create a harmonious plan and seamless construction for an exceptional remodeling experience. We know our clients are happy with the end result because more than half of our business comes from referrals.”
Froze Design Build has won numerous industry awards for the team’s meticulous work, including an addition on the historical Fisk Holbrook Day Home in Wauwatosa, and remodeling of a home owned by the late Alexander Eschweiler, known for designing turn-of-the-century mansions and commercial buildings.
Dick is a long-standing member of the Milwaukee Chapter of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) and the Metropolitan Builders Association (MBA). In addition to serving on the Milwaukee NARI Ethics Committee, he was also the chairman of the MBA's Remodeling Council.
“After 35 years, it’s still exciting and a challenge,” he said. “I never had a project I didn’t enjoy and I’ve done more than a thousand homes.”
Nathan Wachtl, Principal and Vice President of Sales & Marketing
Nathan partnered with Dick in 2018 sharing the same core belief that client satisfaction is paramount and everything within the process is tailored to the client having a positive experience and developing a long-lasting relationship.
“The positive impact that we have in a client’s life allows for their dreams to become a reality and provides solutions for the present and future-forward needs of their home and their family. This is why a relationship with our client and a passion for the process is so important.”
Nathan’s passion for architecture and remodeling was established early in life. He obtained his Master of Architecture degree from UWM focusing on residential and commercial architecture and has hands-on experience in custom residential construction and remodeling. “My love for all things architecture has led me to greatly appreciate the clean lines and theory of mid-century modern, the character and warmth of colonial and the avoidance of extra in modern. When I strategize design directions with clients I like to explore all ideas and some of the best outcomes have been a blend of what the home demands, client’s personality and tastes and an eclectic architecture.”
When not meeting with clients and helping manage projects develop into the dreams of the homeowner, Nathan shares his enthusiasm for the outdoors with his wife Susie and his family. He spends weekends at their cabin getaway and enjoys watching nature, fishing for ‘Big Mo” and hiking throughout the many state forests.
Nathan is a member and long-time supporter of NARI Milwaukee and the Metropolitan Builders Association and carries several national accreditations including NARI Certified Remodeler and Universal Design Certified Professional. He speaks at public panel discussions and enjoys providing homeowners with information that helps bring clarity to the many questions that surface when contemplating a remodeling project. Nathan has won numerous industry awards and enjoys being a resource for countless press publications.
“Our team has the unique ability to collaborate with clients and quickly merge their needs and wants into a vision for their project. Communication with realistic answers to their questions are the building blocks to successfully achieve their remodeling goals. The Froze Design Build approach starts and ends with great communication!”
Michael J. Froze, Business and Project Manager
Mike has worked with Dick for nearly 15 years, not counting the years they worked together in the family business as kids. It was during that time working together as children that they developed the strong work ethic that remains in place today.
With a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing/Management and an Associate Degree in Retail Sales Management from Northern Michigan University, Mike and his wife settled in the Town of Cedarburg when he returned from the east coast in 1989.
At Froze Design Build, Mike spends a portion of his time dealing with the operational aspects of running the business, including accounting, technology and communication services, and marketing. On the project side, he plays an integral role in managing relationships, expectations, communications, and resources. “The production process at Froze Design Build is best characterized as the collaboration between the designer, our client and production resources, including subcontractors and suppliers,” Mike said. “We all take responsibility for our individual portion of the process and for the outcome. It’s a system that has proven time and again to produce good results and happy clients for all involved. My job is greatly aided by the fact that we have long standing relationships in the construction industry in the metro area.”
Mike said he is fortunate to work in an industry that he really likes and for which he is well prepared. “As kids, we built with our father and had the opportunity to learn the skills for construction at an early age,” he said. “We did it all, from digging the foundations to shingling the roof and everything in between. For me, working in a small family construction business is the epitome of good fortune and career satisfaction.”
He explains that clients are an important aspect of the gratification that comes from working at Froze Design Build. “Watching clients react to deconstructing their home and transforming it into the finished product is really cool,” Mike said. “It’s a very personal experience for many clients. We’ve made many good friends over the years and a good number of them have allowed us back into their homes to do additional work.”
Mike is also proud of the team that comprises Froze Design Build. “Collectively we have almost 100 years of construction industry experience,” he explained. “With that much time together, the manner in which we approach the work we do is well organized and measured, resulting in an award winning design-build team. Best of all, we like and respect one another.
Away from the office, Mike is busy remodeling his third home. When that project is finished, he will turn his attention to a frame off restoration of a 1960 Willys Jeep.
Denise Rinke, Senior Residential Designer
Denise joined Froze Design Build in 1995. A resident of Saukville, she earned a Bachelors of Science degree in Architectural Studies from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee.
Denise is responsible for design, estimating, and project management consisting of writing contracts, tracking project changes, ordering materials, and working with the expeditor, carpenters, and subcontractors to ensure smooth flow of job information. She is also involved in the company’s marketing and communications activities.
When discussing the favorite aspect of her job, Denise said “I love that I have a variety of tasks in my job. It keeps things interesting. I also enjoy the team I work with at Froze Design Build.”
Away from the office, Denise enjoys spending time with family, hiking, traveling to national parks, and downhill skiing. She also likes to spend time gathering ideas on Houzz and Pinterest.