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Meet Pella's Partners: An Interview With Moderno Homes

PostedbyPella Windows & Doors of Minnesota and Western Wisconsin

on August 9, 2023

At Pella, we value partnerships that align with our commitment to excellence and customer satisfaction. That’s why our partners are some of the most highly sought-after home builders in the industry. 

Moderno Construction Management, a family business with a remarkable 30-year legacy, has established itself as a leader in land development and luxury home construction. With impeccable attention to detail and exceptional service, they have earned a trusted reputation in the world of custom home-building.

We sat down with Ashlee Tupy Rickert, the eldest of the three siblings who run Moderno Construction Management, to discuss Moderno’s comprehensive process, leading with advocacy and transparency, and the importance of building lasting customer relationships.

Moderno Homes: It’s All in The Family

For Ashlee Tupy Rickert, building homes is just in her DNA. 

Her father was a home builder for as long as she could remember. He’d started his own business before she was born, and ran it successfully throughout her childhood, becoming one of the top land developers in the South Metro area and a force in the home-building industry. 

When her father retired, Ashlee and two of her siblings took the successful company that he had built and broadened its scope to become Moderno Construction Management.  

“We grew up with home building in our veins,” she says. “We know it, and we love it. So, it was a natural fit.”

After more than 30 years in the industry, their family business now has a portfolio of over 950 custom homes in Prior Lake, Lakeville, and the South Metro Twin Cities area.

Exterior view of home

Q: What would you say sets Moderno Homes apart from the competition?

A: Moderno Homes is different in that we don’t operate as general contractors, but as project managers. We give our clients the agency, full autonomy, and confidence to be in the driver’s seat of their projects. Moderno brings everything to the job — the experience and education, the labor, the skills — but the client is ultimately in control. That’s a unique set-up for home building. 

We lead each project with understanding, great empathy, and calculated action. Our first goal before all else is to immerse ourselves in the needs of our clients. We have to understand them before they can understand our suggestions and solutions to their challenges. 

Taking on a building project while continuing their daily demanding lifestyle and family schedules is no easy feat. Guiding clients from the mindset of “I’m scared or overwhelmed,” to “one step at a time” is an important part of the process. When they feel they have a guide they can trust, the process organically grows into a relationship where they gain confidence in us and in themselves. 

When we can empower clients with education and advocacy to help them craft and create their dream home… There’s great joy, reward, and fulfillment in that for us. It’s about bringing our clients into their projects. The house is a reflection of them, from the time we dig until they turn the key. It makes for a completely different process than a general contractor would provide. Our process is about transparency and communication, and we love it!

Q: What’s it like owning a business with your brother and sister? 

A: I like to think of us as the “triple threat”; we all excel in our unique skill set. Where another company might need a full team, we at Moderno operate very efficiently.

In family businesses, people often tend to wear many hats, but this can be detrimental when someone is made to fulfill a role that doesn’t fit them well. While none of us are afraid of pitching in to help out, my siblings and I are mindful of using our talents where they serve our clients the best. It makes all the difference to stay true to our strengths, and ultimately our clients benefit.

Jake is really spectacular with leading the charge in the field. He makes connections with subcontractors and takes clients into the field, helping them take ownership of the project. Alexandra is amazing in her role of managing systems. She makes sure all our contracts are signed, that our draws go out on time, and handles other administrative tasks. Her efficiency makes for really clean bookkeeping. I’m in the networking, sales, and land development realm of things. I keep up with our systems to make sure things are running smoothly and bring in new projects. 

Working with siblings is such a gift! We tend to operate with a like-minded perspective, balancing work, family, and faith. Our family-first perspective overflows into how we treat our subcontractors, vendor relationships, and our clients. When your business hinges on a family dynamic, it brings different values to the forefront. Business is important, but relationships are essential!

White sofa, black frame windows and fireplace in living room.

Q: How does your involvement in projects differ from that of other builders/contractors?

A typical builder will search for a homesite for their clients, but Moderno is unique in that we create them. It's an amazing pathway that we get to experience and be a part of. 

We engage with the sellers of large properties, like family farms or family trusts. Oftentimes, their land is greatly meaningful to them; they usually have a vision of developing so they can preserve the beauty for future families. They not only want to partner with someone knowledgeable, but someone whom they can trust to execute their vision. 

Throughout our 30-year history, we’ve developed hundreds of homesites. For each project, we’ve had our hand in every step of the process, from crops in the field to the final landscape on a luxury estate. We are truly engaged at every touch point.

My dad often told us, “We leave things better than we find them. Taking raw land and building a home to enhance a family’s lifestyle and memories for generations — what could be better than this?” Continuing this legacy is something we’re very proud of! 

Q: Does Moderno Homes cater to a certain architectural style?

While we are most known for our acreage estates, design-wise, every project takes on a life of its own. For example, the Artisan Home Tour project that we’re managing right now is a Rustic Modern. A few homesites down from that we have a Mediterranean style. We work with our clients to create a home that’s a reflection of them. 

Sometimes people wonder if they align with our style and the truth is, although we push the envelope of modern trends in our projects, we are intentional in seeking the modern trends of each individual style. If a home is going Rustic, Mediterranean, or Lake Cottage, we want to be on the cutting edge in each style of design and we take our clients with us. We invite them to be a little daring and edgy within their style. It makes for a fun project, and in the end we create something fresh that they are excited about and can’t wait to share with friends and family. Comfort is cool, but fresh is fun! 

Q: Who is Moderno Homes’ ideal customer? 

We best serve customers who are highly value-driven and motivated to be in control of their project. While they don’t lift a finger, they are in full control over who is on their project, what is ordered, and receive full transparency of the financial portfolio. That usually means we’re not the right builder for the first-time home buyer, but rather a great fit for business owners and individuals in the business realm.

Our typical buyer profile is a person who’s built (...) a home already, has an established family, and owns a business. This person is usually in a neighborhood setting, but wants to get out and have the pool, the 4-wheelers, etc., on an acreage between $1-2 million. He wants to build smart and appreciates the relationship of a trusted partner to value-build his home and navigate the most cost-effective way to get top-quality for the best price. That’s our guy and we are an exceptional partner to take him from where he is to where he wants to be! Serving this type of client is where we shine brightest!

Q: How would you describe your relationship with your customers? 

My dad always said, “When you stop serving people, get out of the business,” and we carry this mentality into each project. It’s important that the alignment we have with our clients is solid from the start, so we are able to serve them well.

Communication, transparency, advocacy, trust, and integrity — that is already part of the Moderno package, but we do a tremendous amount of connection on the front end to establish the grounds for success before ever engaging in the process. 

Before a shovel hits the ground, the relationships we have with our clients are strong. We maintain these relationships throughout construction via daily communication, weekly on-site visits, direct conversations with all subcontractors, and signed agreements. We run clean sites, have clear bookkeeping, and offer trusted advice. All of this results in valued, respected, and well-maintained relationships with our clients. 

After 30 years of running a referral-based business, we know with certainty that great projects and beautiful builds come from a passion for serving our clients to the best of our ability. We’re family building for families, and we build for them like we would build for ourselves. It’s a different approach and one that naturally fuels relationships that are sustained long after our projects are complete. 

Exterior view of home

Q: How long have you partnered with Pella and why did you choose to partner with them?

Diane approached us around 2018. We’d been using the same in-house framers for 25 years, so we consulted with them about switching to Pella. “If you want quality, Pella’s the winner, no questions asked,” they said. They’re old-school, highly skilled carpenters, and experts in their field. We trust them with our most complicated projects, so we knew taking their advice was the right move. 

Our partnership with Pella was a natural fit from the beginning. They’re a stunning window, their profile is far superior to the competition, and Diane is just a wiz. When I call Pella, they’re responsive, they’re joyful, and they’ve got answers. And the few times we’ve had service, the service has been highly responsive as well. We can’t say enough good things about Pella. They’ve become part of who we are as a builder and we’re “Pella proud”. 

Recently our marketing team came to meet us for a video shoot and got lost ultimately walking into the home of a different builder. He commented, “I looked around and they didn’t use Pella windows. I knew I wasn’t in the right place.” I laugh a little retelling the story, but it meant a lot to me. When people walk into a Moderno home, I want the quality to be that identifiable. We take great pride in those we build for, those that work on the jobs, and the materials we allow on the projects we are a part of. They represent us just as we represent them. 

Pella helps us bring the best, which we in turn give to our clients. 

Q: How would you say your partnership with Pella has impacted your business? 

It has been strengthened. Sounds cliché, but Pella is a people’s window. We’ve engaged with other top name competitors and Pella was the only one to reach out, offering support in the form of education, resources, and in gathering general feedback. It reminds me of how we run our own business. We provide the highest quality homes with a trusted reputation, but we’re not above connecting with people — even if it means pushing a broom or doing the dirty work!

I see this in Pella! The yellow stickered window has been a staple in the industry for years, but until you’re a Pella builder you truly don’t know what you’re missing. They are client-centric, and you feel as though you’re a valued partner. When you connect with people-minded businesses and relationships it has a positive impact on your business as a whole.

It’s a two-way street with Pella. We trust them with our clients and in turn they treat them like family, supporting us every step of the way. Why choose Pella? It’s a no-brainer!

Q: What do you see for the future of Moderno Construction Management?

As the market shifts and past generations of developers exit the field, there is a great opportunity to take the experience we’ve acquired in land development and apply it to current conditions. Local land developers with real-time experience (...) [are] becoming increasingly rare, and it can be quite challenging to compete with larger national entities that have coined the phrase “postage stamp lot”. 

There is a need and the desire to live in wide open spaces on larger parcels. It’s meaningful to many of our clients, and therefore it’s meaningful to us. Our clients work hard for their dreams, and as the landscape of craftsmanship changes, we will continue to build a team of highly committed and skilled artisans to take our industry into the future bringing efficiency, vision, and a touch of modernity. 

To learn more about Ashlee and the team at Moderno Homes, visit their website at homesbymoderno.com.

Partner with Pella for Your Next Project

Does your next project need an experienced, highly reputable partner in windows and doors? Look no further than Pella! Contact us today to find out how we can support you in your next big build. We look forward to working with you!

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