What began as a web-design job has turned into a building project of a whole other kind.

Jamus Baumgardt originally met with Don Midlikowski about creating a website for Midlikowski’s business, Builders Corner Cabinetry Design & Price-Less Building Center, but Baumgardt recalled Midlikowski saying he wasn’t sure he wanted to spend too much on the website because he might be retiring from the business soon.

“I got out to the front steps and it dawned on me, I’ve got to make a call,” Baumgardt said.

That call connected him with Josh Nickel and Justin Jolin, both of whom had been contractors in the area with a thorough knowledge of Midlikowski and his company. The three discussed the opportunity, made an offer and closed their purchase in May 2019.

Nickel and Jolin had plenty of experience in the building industry, while Baumgardt’s background is in digital marketing, but they were all less acquainted with formal business plans.

“We had no real business proposal,” Nickel said, “but we worked with our lender and made the numbers work.”

The faith of that lender is reaping benefits. The Price-Less Building Center side of the business is nearly bursting at the seams at 825 Washington St., Wausau, but they’ll soon be supplementing that 27,000 square feet with an additional 9,200 as they secure a building next door.

Price-Less is patterned after an outlet model as they pick up a variety of housing materials at deep discounts from manufacturers’ mis-orders, over-orders, or even floor models from trade shows. Basically, those vendors are stuck with materials they have no other plans to use. So, the threesome are able to negotiate deals on doors, windows, cabinets, counters, lighting fixtures, and more. Far from scratch-and-dent specials, many of these items can command eye-opening price tags, including one $15,000 Jeld-Wen door that a homeowner was all too happy to purchase.

It (customer traffic) was about 25 people a week. Now, we’ll get 75 people come through here on a Saturday.

— Jamus Baumgardt, co-owner,

Builders Corner Cabinetry Design

& Price-Less Building Center,

Wausau

“They’re still less than people would be paying in other markets,” Baumgardt said.

They recently acquired a truckload of doors — 450 of them — that so burst their seams they decided to just buy the semi-trailer as well, which they jokingly refer to as their “auxiliary warehousing.”

“We watch a lot of auctions, closeouts, liquidations,” Nickel said. “Now, on the Builders Corner side, that’s all new. If someone sees something they like on the Price-Less side, we can order more on the Builders Corner side.”

Our bartending days helped us develop a sense of customer service. You didn’t make money if people weren’t enjoying themselves.

— Jamus Baumgardt, co-owner,

Builders Corner Cabinetry Design

& Price-Less Building Center,

Wausau

They don’t expect all of the Price-Less parcels to be around for long. Most of the trailer, in fact, was empty within weeks. Price-Less has shipped materials as far away as California but does so more regularly around the Midwest. These trips lit a spark in the trio’s entrepreneurial minds.

“It occurred to us that we were sending (our driver) to Indiana and these other places, and he was coming back empty,” Nickel said.

J3 Transport, a transportation component to their business model, would have that driver picking up from another company in that area and transporting a load to a destination along the way back to Wausau.

Whether it’s negotiations with materials manufacturers or the contractors and do-it-yourselfers to walk through their doors, the men draw on a common background to relate to each one.

“Our bartending days helped us develop a sense of customer service,” Baumgardt said. “You didn’t make money if people weren’t enjoying themselves.”

This sense of combining a keen ear for listening with a sense of relatability may be one reason that the traffic count has picked up in their two years of ownership.

“It was about 25 people a week,” Baumgardt said. “Now, we’ll get 75 people come through here on a Saturday.”

Their ads emphasize that Nickel and Jolin are the experts while Baumgardt is “just the marketing guy,” but working with customers while Nickel and Jolin are busy has helped Baumgardt learn what to ask. It also helps him brief Nickel and Jolin when he hands the customer off to them. It’s a symbiotic relationship that keeps all cylinders firing.

Sales grew about 40 percent through the pandemic-riddled 2020, and Baumgardt said they’re hoping to finish this year up around 30 percent. All three men are at or pushing 40, and their business continues to evolve and grow.

“We all have kids around the same age,” Jolin said. “We’re trying to build something for them, too.”