-By Kathy Jonas-
Mike Nisonger often thinks about a telephone call he got on Christmas Eve in 1992. Everett Hart from NuWay Builders called to set up a lunch date. Hart had a Lester Buildings dealership and wanted to know whether Nisonger would be interested in running that division. “Anyone who knows Everett knows he gets what he wants,” says Nisonger.
Nisonger, of Versailles, Ohio, sold his first building in April 1993. He went on to become a part of Wick Buildings when it expanded to the east. He eventually began his own company doing design-and-build work and has the utmost respect for both Lester and Wick because of the high-quality product they offer.
“When I realized that I must be as proud of the building as the owner who purchases the building, it became evident that we had to use our own labor force,” according to Nisonger; the result was the founding of his company, Preferred Builders. He calls Preferred Builders, with four employees and sales between $750,000 and $1,000,000, a “relatively small company” but says he has no intention of getting any larger.
Born and raised in Darke County, Ohio, Nisonger comes from a family of seven siblings. Many of his relatives—his father, grandfather, uncles and cousins—were in the construction field. Although his siblings were not in the business, the offer from Everett Hart just seemed like the right thing to accept—a calling.
That calling is being passed on to the next generation through his son, Ryan, who is active in the business with his dad. “Ryan takes great pride in his accomplishments and is well ahead of ol’ Dad when it comes to running jobs,” says Nisonger. “My philosophy is: when Ryan quits, Dad quits.”
He’s particularly proud of a job recently completed for Integrity Ambulance. Preferred Builders built a 5,000-square-foot office and 7,000-square-foot shop area using post-frame construction. He says the project went quite smoothly, mainly because the form of construction lends itself to a quicker timeline with fewer delays.
In the office section of the building, they were able to flush frame the walls, which furnishes a horizontal stud wall between the columns that can be used to fasten the exterior surface as well as the interior surface without the need to stud another wall. Using the column and footing in post-frame construction is one big advantage over a footer and concrete wall, he adds. “I’m really pushing the uplift advantage of post frame over stud-wall construction.”
Nisonger joined the National Frame Building Association in order to attend the trade show and keep up-to-date with the latest technology. At this year’s expo in Indianapolis, he made contact with Michael Burkholder of Ohio Timberland Products and Tom Knight of PostFrame Manager, and both helped him in areas of his business that needed attention. Burkholder is now designing and supplying the company’s laminated columns, which previously had been done in-house, and Knight’s product—PostFrame Manager—has been purchased to help make Preferred Builders more efficient, Nisonger adds.
Networking is another important benefit of the association. “I think being able to demonstrate that you participate in an organization such as NFBA shows your clientele your dedication and professionalism in the industry.” He’s looking forward to participating in classes and the Building of the Year Awards contest in the year ahead.
He and his wife, Betsy, have four sons ranging in age from 26 to 38. He says Ryan and his wife, Erin, have blessed them with two grandsons. Passionate about gardening, Nisonger admits that their plot is bigger than it should be for two people, so he is generous with sharing the bounty of the garden with his children and grandchildren. Among other things, he raises peas, green beans, sweet corn, cabbage, carrots, beets and basil. Betsy then uses the freshest ingredients in her salsa and sauerkraut. When he’s not weeding or harvesting, he likes spoiling his grandchildren and playing a game of euchre.
Preferred Builders has a straightforward business philosophy: high quality and concern for the customer above all else. “I am a firm believer that people buy from people, and the name on the building really does not matter. I strive to get to know the people buying the building and their intended use before ever talking about size or design,” says Nisonger.
“We take each building seriously and want customers to tell their friends and family and neighbors how proud they are of their building and who helped make that building possible.”