Wausau Pilot & Review

Editor’s note: Business of the Week is a sponsored feature that shares the stories of locally-owned and operated businesses in the Wausau area, highlighting the products and services they offer and the ways they contribute to the metro area’s unique flavor. Learn how to feature your business by emailing christina@wausaupilotandreview.com.

This week’s featured Wausau business is Rust & Sawdust Renovations, owned and operated by Justin and Adria Pagel. The couple launched the business in June 2020 after spending years renovating homes as a hobby. Justin and Adria offer a different experience than people may be used to when it comes to working with a contractor, promoting trust and cooperation while working closely with homeowners to create beautiful, comfortable spaces. “We knew there was a better way to provide not only what the customer was looking for in quality, but also to educate them, be transparent especially with pricing, and top that off with an overall amazing experience,” Justin said. From the very first time you speak with Justin and Adria to the final days of your project, the couple will work tirelessly to ensure your dreams become reality. A good contractor wants your experience to be flawless, and Rust & Sawdust Home Renovations goes above and beyond. “You deserve to have it all,” Justin said. “We want your renovation to be a story that we’re proud to tell.”

Tell me about your background. What drew you to this work?

I’ve always been interested in carpentry and creating things. I developed this passion from my dad, who had a knack for building and woodworking. My wife Adria has always had a sharp eye for design. After getting married, we bought our first house and started to renovate the whole thing and before we knew it we were done and selling it to move on to the next house. This became a habit! We love doing projects together, even when it’s stressful – which can happen when Adria has a cool design idea that can be a challenge to bring to life. After renovating our own homes, we slowly started helping family and friends with their projects. Everyone told us we should make a business of it. At first, we thought it was crazy and over our heads, but a few years later we ultimately decided to make it happen. I had to convince and enlist the help of Adria to bring our vision to life, but I’m so grateful to be doing what I love to do.

I love the name of your business. How did you come up with it?

We sat down and brainstormed. We wanted something that stood out in our area. We started thinking of words that were catchy and many of them were ruled out with businesses in Wisconsin already claiming them. We ultimately fell on Rust & Sawdust Home Renovations.

Tell us about the range of services you offer.

We specialize in kitchens, baths, and basement renovation. We offer full turn key services, which means we do all the planning, ordering, design work, scheduling, permitting and building to complete the project. Some clients choose every detail from cabinets to paint color and want us to bring their vision to life. Others have ideas that we help flesh out together. There are also clients who want us to completely lead the way. We’re happy to do what they ask, and we know firsthand that the many choices that go into a successful renovation or remodeling project can be overwhelming. We want to make that process easier, so clients can sit back and watch their vision come to life as we create their dream space. One client told us they were so relaxed during their kitchen remodel – which took several months – that their coworkers could hardly believe it! But that’s the way it should be – clients should be confident that we’ll take care of it all and keep them informed as the process moves forward.

What do you love most about your job?

We truly love helping people turn the house they like into the home they love. The joy for us is hearing about all of the new memories made in the spaces we created. Something as simple as a kitchen island can create a place for families to gather for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snack time and bring them all together. We also love meeting new people and showing them what’s possible in their space, making the decisions together and creating one final, amazing end result. The enjoyment we get from the smiles, tears of happiness, and memories being made is so fulfilling.

What is the most difficult thing about the work you do?

The first challenge is bringing hundreds or thousands of decisions all together to create an excellent end result with an even better experience. It’s challenging, but rewarding too. The other difficult thing is educating people about the process so they understand what needs to be done when – and why – but we feel strongly about transparency in everything we do, including our pricing.

What is the most rewarding part of your work?

One of the most rewarding experiences is hearing how the spaces we create make memories that last a lifetime. We want the people we work with to feel proud of their space, and we love it when we hear they can’t wait to have everyone over to host a party to show it off.

What do you wish more people understood about your line of work? What would you like them to know?

We know that starting the process of hiring a contractor can be scary. You’re inviting someone into your life, and they’ll be spending time with you, your loved ones, your pets and your home, so be sure to ask plenty of questions. For example, ask a contractor if they pull permits. If they don’t, that’s a red flag that they may be unlicensed or are concerned about their work not passing inspection. I’d say about 95% of contractor issues can be stopped with permits being pulled by the contractor – not the homeowner – and having that work inspected. Ask about their process to ensure you’ll be getting a contract with a price on it, and see how transparent they are with their pricing. Then, trust your gut. If it doesn’t feel right, move on. I know we all want the best deals, but when it comes to an important investment such as your house, hiring the cheapest person likely means corners will be cut. In the end, you may not get the quality you expect.

Connect with Rust & Sawdust Home Renovations