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More than kitchen and bath, Welling also offers flooring, remodeling

COVID-19 pandemic changed how Stevens Point business operates

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February 5, 2024

STEVENS POINT – A business that started in 1997 as an entrepreneurial endeavor and outlet for then-owner B.J. Welling’s woodworking is now in its second generation and has grown to do so much more.

Welling Kitchen, Bath & Floor, located at 3701 Patch St. in Stevens Point, has three main departments: kitchen and bath, flooring and contracting.

The company specializes in the design, supply and installation of cabinetry, countertops, tile, flooring, closets, bars, fireplace mantels and custom woodwork and accessories for kitchens and baths while also guiding coordination of complementary colors, materials and fixtures.

Ariel Welling, president of Welling Kitchen, Bath & Floor, said the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the addition of flooring services to the company’s list of offerings – with the purchase of Duralum.

“We are known in the community for kitchen and bath design, and people often think of Duralum locally for flooring,” she said. “(Welling) purchased the Duralum business during the beginning of the pandemic when that business’s owner chose to retire.”

Ariel said Welling had been toying around with adding flooring to the business, and this made the evolution into that seamless. 

She said flooring options became available in the business’s design center where customers can touch and feel many kitchen, bath and most recently, flooring options. 

“But that all-in-one convenience isn’t (Welling’s) only differentiator – it also has a contracting team onsite and can serve as a general contractor for remodels or new projects and holds customers’ hands throughout the process,” she said. 

Ariel said they do things a bit differently compared to a normal contractor. 

“If you’re building a house or working with a contractor, most will say, ‘here’s your allowances – choose what you want and tell me what I am installing,’” she said. “With us, they come in, tell us what they want to accomplish, help us understand their design sense and then we propose things in a way where they don’t have to wade through all the options.”

Ariel said she recognizes that remodels “have about a million moving parts” and executing on them all during a remodel requires constant change and communication.

“We are in the communication business before anything else,” she said. “We communicate from the beginning that remodels can be uncomfortable, and we try to provide what they can expect (in a realistic fashion). That’s why we have a customer expectation agreement we share upfront.”

A bit of a niche

Ariel said she is proud of the business’s ability to design for aging in place, helping people who want to remain in their homes prepare for limited mobility, reduced vision and other aspects of aging in their home’s design. 

“I’m passionate about this and know what it’s like first-hand – I was a caretaker for my grandparents in their last years,” she said. “I know how much ease of mind there is to know your loved ones can live comfortably and safely in their home.”

Ariel said that may run the gamut from adding grab bars in select rooms to incorporating task lighting in the kitchen to changing a guest bedroom into a laundry room so the residents don’t have to go downstairs, to incorporating faucets that are touch or sensor-automated and also have an automatic switch off. 

“It’s become so top of mind that the team asks customers if they want to consider aging in place as part of their design considerations,” she said. “About 40% want to learn more and 30% say ‘yes.’ It doesn’t have to be a huge change to make a difference.” 

Regardless if a project includes aspects of aging in place, Ariel said the team manages the entire project, helping its clients’ dreams come to fruition without overwhelming them. 

“I’d estimate about 70% of the business is remodeling, though we have experienced tremendous growth in flooring as well,” she said. 

Ariel said most of the business Welling does is directly with homeowners. 

“That’s about 90%, with the remaining 10% working with contractors for new builds,” she said. “Both pools of customers appreciate the top-notch service we provide. It was something my father set the tone for.”

Moving back home after working briefly for a healthcare software company in Madison post-college, Ariel said she anticipated she’d only be in Central Wisconsin for a couple of years.

However, she said, fate had other ideas. 

“I’m here for the long haul,” she said.

Refocused scope

Ariel said the business had a waiting list that started a few years before the pandemic – something that prompted the team to evaluate where it wanted to narrow its focus. 

“Staff chimed in on projects, customers, scope of projects and more, and one of the key takeaways everyone agreed on was a need to stay closer to home,” she said. “We reduced our radius to serving (general contractor project) customers within about a 30-minute drive. For those who want our help with design and materials, we will go beyond that because it’s one to two visits and not driving back and forth every day.”

Ariel said the team also established a system for managing projects that came in handy during COVID-19, when home project requests took off.

“Before the pandemic, we had about 15 projects on the waiting list – right now, the people at the top of their list have been on the list for about a year,” she said. “That waiting list and system were the best things we ever did. We consistently tell people how long they may be waiting because we want our designers to do a great job when they do.”

Though there was a bit of a lull at the beginning of COVID when people weren’t sure who to allow into their homes, Ariel said that quickly changed.

“Within a few months, we received double to triple the number of project requests as people settled in at home,” she said. “That was further complicated by supply chain issues delaying materials as well, and yet, business grew about 40% during that time. Even today, there is no lack of work.”

Ariel said when customers work with Welling for one type of project, they often return for others. 

“In the past year, the speed of inquiries has slowed a bit, but that isn’t to say we don’t have work to do, as word of mouth continues to be the most powerful form of advertising,” she said. “That said, people value local businesses and friend and family referrals. As a small community, everybody knows somebody you know.”

Ariel said the team also loves working with people new to the area, helping set the tone for their new neighbors and making impacts within the community at large.

“The most important and meaningful part of my job is how it allows me and my co-workers to be active members of the community, make our community a better place to live and make connections while we are doing our jobs,” she said.

To learn more about Welling Kitchen, Bath & Floor, visit

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