My story begins in Paraguay, 1950, where I was born in the cool of the jungle on a wintery July morning. They say I was a happy, secure child. My early years were filled with adventure, with wild animals, fishing and hunting…and a bit of school work too. I weeded the carrot patch in the heat of the tropical sun and swam in a crocodile infested river. I built my first “house” when I was 8 years old, harvesting bamboo plants and fashioning their stalks into poles for use as wall and roof framing. Palm leaves kept the rain out. The first night I slept there the howl of mane wolf sent me scurrying for the safety of my bed! As a child I enjoyed singing international folk songs while strumming my guitar. My sisters played the mouth organ, violin and recorder. Father composed music, and made wine for weddings! Mother taught German and “arts and crafts” in the village school.
I come from a Dutch-German, musically gifted and art-inclined family. I have lived in England and Germany. At the age of 13 years, in 1963, my family moved to the States. A month later JFK was shot to death. I was stunned! Soon thereafter, having not yet fully mastered English, I lost my hearing.
I graduated from college in 1973 (BS; RIT in Rochester, NY). The economy was lousy and job opportunities were hard to come by. I was fortunate to land a job in construction on the East Coast. I thoroughly enjoyed it! Ambitious but penniless, I dreamed of owning my own company! I hitch-hiked my way to the C-U area in 1976 and spent 2.5 years as a volunteer worker, building and repairing residences for the disadvantaged. In the evenings I read carpentry books. I attended Parkland College. With the little money I had I bought my own set of tools. And then I met a lady!
I started my remodeling company in June of 1979, and married two years later. My wife is a certified audiologist, former Parkland College instructor, and interpreter for the deaf at the U of I. We have two adult children who both attended the U of I.
A modest beginning led to varied job opportunities. By the early 90’s I had two full-time employees. We combined remodeling with small home construction. Fros Carpentry was awarded a contract to build starter homes in Urbana’s Eads at Lincoln subdivision. Working in tandem with the City of Urbana, this worthwhile project entailed the redevelopment of a decaying neighborhood on North Lincoln. Eventually my wife and I designed and built bigger homes, the “jewel” of which is located in the rural Aeroplace Subdivision, East Urbana.
Though new construction was rewarding, my primary interest lies in the design and building of additions, and remodeling or restoring existing residences. I am particularly interested in older homes such as can be found in historic Urbana. Craftsmanship is my delight. My son and I do most of the work. Our work must look beautiful! We offer a complete spectrum of remodeling skills.
We try to schedule one job at a time. When we start a large job (an addition), we stay on the job until it is completed. Other companies run several jobs at the same time, but we prefer focused attention. I have observed that it often takes us less time to complete a job than it takes a larger company, doing comparable work. The down-side to my approach is that a client occasionally waits several months before the schedule is freed up. Additions and other sizable projects are usually reserved for the warm months. Some of our work is done time-and-materials, and other work is done at a fixed rate. Fros Carpentry carries liability insurance according to law, and maintains a State of Illinois roofing license.
When I am not working I like to walk and jog in Meadowbrook Park, coach and referee soccer in the Urbana Park District, draw water colors with my son and garden with my wife. I enjoy cooking too! Health permitting, I will continue to work into old age, slowing down enough to enjoy the golden years.