By Shelly Stengel, Senior Staff Vice President for Public Affairs & Marketing
Bill Wannstedt worked in the mining industry in Chicago before moving to St. Louis in 1986 where he continued his career working at a mining supply company. In 1987, he sought a career change and joined Coldwell Banker Gundaker (CBG).
“The manager told me to call on new home builders and tell them I’d work my butt off to sell existing homes of clients with contingency contracts,” said Wannstedt.
The position at CBG led to a job selling new homes for McBride & Son Homes in St. Charles County. After about a year, a chance meeting resulted in a switch to the CBG New Homes division where he was hired to be the representative for The Jones Company.
“I was at a little league game watching my son play when a spectator started harassing the teenage umpire. I told the guy to leave him alone. Turns out the umpire was Curt Johnson’s son and Curt ran the CBG New Homes division at the time,” he said.
In 1995, Wannstedt joined The Jones Company full-time and ran Charleston Homes, a division set up to build homes in Illinois. The division existed from 1995-1999 when the company decided to fold Charleston’s operation into The Jones Company.
During his tenure in Illinois, Wannstedt served as president of the HBA of Southwestern Illinois (SWIL), making him the first president of our association to serve as president at two different HBAs.
Although Wannstedt thinks the experience helped prepare him for the upcoming year, he is clear the HBA’s are two different animals. “Illinois has a strong state association so there was much less autonomy at SWIL. Also, there was limited staff and member leaders had to dig in and work events, including moving in the home show. It was a much more hands-on experience,” he said.
After working during the transition time between The Jones Company, Centex and Pulte, Wannstedt joined Consort Homes in 2012. Today, he is vice president and division manager overseeing day-to-day operations.
When looking forward to the coming year as HBA President, Wannstedt keeps in mind the examples set by those who served before him.
“I saw Kim Hibbs lead with a steady hand and work hard during a difficult year. Then, Ken Kruse initiated and took the strategic plan to the finish line. Dale Black followed and made sure the plan was executed and most recently, John Suelthaus has taken on the monumental task of creating an association health plan. It is my hope to keep
us on plan, contribute to the success of the new board format and get the insurance plan to the finish line,” he said.
Another challenge for the upcoming year is workforce development.
“We’ve made great strides with the student chapter and working with the technical schools, but we have to work to educate the high school counselors about opportunities in the trades,” he said.
Wannstedt will be married to his wife, Debra, for 24 years in December. They have a blended family of six children ages 37 to 45 and 15 grandchildren. He has a daughter and son-in-law who serve in the U.S. Army and thinks there are many opportunities for our members to grow their businesses by working to offer remodeling and building to our veterans.
In his free time, Wannstedt finds himself cheering on his grandkids in every sport and activity imaginable. He is also an avid biker, as in motorcycles, and belongs to a group called the U-Turn Riders.
He said, “We are the biker group riding into town looking for the best ice cream.”
Ken Stricker, CEO of Consort Homes, said, “I have worked with Bill for over twenty years. It is truly a pleasure working with him. He is a great teacher and mentor to our employees. No one works harder or has a more positive attitude. He will be a fantastic HBA President.”