Tenhulzen Residential has done away with traditional construction industry job titles and replaced them with film industry titles. Michael Tenhulzen is the director, not the CEO; his wife Traci isn’t a salesperson but an executive producer; on-site superintendents are location managers.

The reason for this isn’t just fanciful. Michael Tenhulzen says that it helps employees and customers better understand the construction process: there’s pre-production, production, and post-production. During the construction phase, Michael explains, the crew behaves as if they’re on camera. “We’ve always been a nonsmoking company, and no loud radios, and informed. ... But we wanted to take it to the next level.”

The organization chart changed, too. Instead of showing the reporting structure, the chart now has the customer as its center, and job descriptions are given from the customer’s perspective.

Clients get in on the act, too. Tenhulzen’s design center features a high table surrounded by director’s chairs, each with a different title: costume designer, stunt coordinator, makeup artist. “When customers come in, they can each choose a chair and be part of that creative team,” Michael says.

The company nails down all project details in design (pre-production). By the time a construction agreement is drawn up, everything’s been defined down to grout colors and light bulb types. “We can hand that binder off to the field, and they have everything in there they need to make it happen,” Michael says.

Tenhulzen’s goal is to add sales personnel to help the business grow to $6 million in volume. Michael envisions the company scaling up as needed by plugging in new production teams.


  • Tenhulzen has trade contractors sign annual agreements outlining standards for professionalism and quality.
  • Employees do most of the framing and cabinetry, and even some drywall, electrical, and plumbing.
  • A popular event for past, existing, and prospective clients is “cooking without a kitchen.” A professional chef visits the showroom and shows how to prepare meals with just a microwave oven, refrigerator and sink—handy for those in the middle of a kitchen remodel.
  • The company used to send out customer surveys but found it would get “nice” answers. Now Tenhulzen uses a third-party survey company to get more honest responses.