Don Winkelman, Sr. founded Winkelman Enterprises in 1969. It was a family-owned construction business that became Winkelman Building Corporation in 1983. From the beginning, respect for the environment and appreciation for nature was a focal point for this Central Minnesota construction company. And, while many know Winkelman Building Corp. is passionate about sustainable construction and green building, not many people know why.
In this guest blog, we’re fortunate enough to have David Winkelman, son of Don Sr., sharing the how and why behind Winkelman Building Corp.’s focus on all things green. To learn more about David and his 40+ years as a champion for conservation, read his previous guest blog.
The Beginning of Building Green
Before there was Winkelman Building Corp. or Winkelman Enterprises, there was the Winkelman family. My family lived on a farm just east of St. Cloud, MN. And, like most farming families of the time, we had our fair share of chores. But, all that hard work came with the promise of reward: fishing.
It All Started with a Creek
We had this beautiful creek flowing through our property, and us kids jumped at any opportunity to play in that creek, any day spent splashing around or dropping a fishing line was a good day. At least it was, until the creek started to go bad. Since it’s something you see every day, we didn't even realize it at first. The first sign where we really took notice was when the frogs started to die.
By that time, most of the creek’s plants and animals were in decline. We were young, I was just in middle school at the time, and it wasn’t until years later that I’d learn the reason behind what I saw: pollution.
Pollutants Affecting Nature
When I learned about pollution and deforestation in school, the lessons sent me right back to what I’d seen our creek go through. I suddenly had words for the things I’d seen. I began to understand that our creek had been poisoned by people polluting the land and cutting down trees.
But, I also learned that those effects didn’t have to be permanent. I learned about conservation and sustainability – most importantly, I learned we as humans can make decisions and take actions in the best interest of nature.
People Restoring Nature
In an effort to restore some of what had been lost, my father, Don Sr., converted 37 acres of our family’s land into a wildlife management area. And I couldn’t believe the change it made. The same creek I’d spent so much of my childhood at started coming back. And I mean all of it, the plants, the fish, the frogs, even the beavers come back. And today, that creek still thrives.
It was through the creek’s restoration that my whole family saw the impact our actions and our choices have on the environment. That first-hand experience, mixed with an appreciation for nature and the outdoors, stayed with my family. And that commitment to protecting and preserving nature still forms Winkelman Building Corp. today.
Winkelman Builders and Sustainable Construction
When my father handed over the reins of his company to his long term employees Duane Schultz and Keith Schupp, the commitment to green building stayed strong. And that same mentality of conservation continues its influence still today. As Winkelman Building Corp. continues to grow and evolve, it remains an established company with sustainable construction practices and a commitment to community involvement.