Michael Nagel, CGR, CAPS
Partner with MAW Chicago LLC, Palatine, Ill.
Year company was founded: Sevvonco Inc., which was founded in 1983, and Remodel One Inc., founded in 1985, merged into MAW Chicago in 2007.
Number of Employees: Six
Who started your company? Scott Sevon and I started our two original companies, and we started MAW Chicago together.
When and how did you choose this career? I didn’t choose it; it chose me. I started in the industry in 1964 at the age of 14 and after earning my engineering degree, I knew my passion was being a houser.
What did you do before becoming a remodeler? I worked for three separate companies during a span of 13 years, two as a project manager--one was a residential firm and one was a commercial building firm. The third company I worked as an engineer designing roof and floor truss systems and panelized construction for residential and commercial buildings.
As you were growing up, what did you want to be? Professionally, an engineer. I played with erector sets from the age of three. I still do but now I get paid for it. Idealistically, I wanted to be someone who left a lasting mark on whatever I did.
How has the remodeling profession changed since you’ve been involved? In the past 30 years, the remodeling industry has gone from being a small, disrespected, decentralized part of the home-building industry to a professional group of educated remodelers with major suppliers scrambling to understand the differences between them and new construction. Not to mention that remodelers currently have a larger gross revenue than new home construction with home builders entering the field daily.
What is the most unusual project your company has completed? My most unusual project was a commercial project that required very strict logistics to allow deliveries to be made through the construction zone to the original loading docks while building the new building and new loading docks. Shutting down the docks would have cost the client $1.2 million per day. It didn’t make my insurance company happy.
What is your favorite item in your office? I have to name four. First, the two collages of pictures my wife assembled for me: one of the NAHBR Gala when I was NAHBR national chair (one of the most memorable nights of my life) and the other of me testifying at a Senate hearing about Lead RRP when I was chairman in 2007. The second item is my computer, something I could not do without. Next are notes from my two grandchildren. The fourth is my bottle of Jack Daniels that sits prominently on my desk and is only opened for a shot every time we sign a new project. Everyone in the office does one on ice with every signing. It has become a ritual, and if you are at the office when this happens you are welcome to join in the festivities.
What is the best advice you’ve received in your career? Never pass up an opportunity to stand and speak to a group of your peers.
What would you like to bring to QR’s advisory board? For selfish reasons, it helps to keep me on the cutting edge of the industry. The real reason is it gives me the opportunity to share my life-long experiences in the industry and help others to understand the unlimited value of association membership.
What are your professional affiliations? NAHB, NKBA
Please mention any awards your business has attained or any community involvement you have. As a company, we have won many design awards for projects we have completed. Personally, I have won the Remodeler of the Year. Locally, I am a member of our local Home Builders Association’s Hall of Fame and am a member of my church council
What motivates you every day? Honestly, my two grandchildren are my biggest motivator.
Anything else you’d like to mention about your career accomplishments? Giving back to the industry always has been a passion of mine and was recognized when I served as NAHBR chairman in 2007.
If a movie was made about your life, who would be cast as you? Harrison Ford
What do you do when you are not working? I love to watch movies and play golf and power volleyball. I also love to sing Karaoke and watch my grandchildren grow up.