Gather with Gratitude

Thanksgiving Blog Image

Every year towards the end of November, the whole country pauses – if only for a day – in a moment of gratitude. We stop and reflect on the things we are grateful for, which are rarely ‘things’ and often people and relationships: friends, family, neighbors and even pets.

Gathering together to celebrate Thanksgiving may be an annual tradition but the gratitude we recognize on this day carries throughout the entire year. As we join our family and friends around the table, it is our sincere hope that we will savor every moment shared. Between passing side dishes and pies, may we all take the day to reflect on the blessings we have throughout the year.

May all your turkeys be cooked to perfection and surrounded with plentiful sides – Happy Thanksgiving!

Brent Williams and the Bren-Mar Team

The New Kid on The Block: Matt Vanden Toorn

Matt Vanden Toorn is the newest member of the Bren-Mar team. Hailing from the west side of the state around Grand Rapids, he graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in Supply Chain Management and spent his first years out of college working in public sector consulting in Washington DC.

During his time in DC, he worked with the United States Air Force coordinating new construction projects at various bases throughout the country. The exposure to construction projects with the Air Force, combined with a family history in the building trades, propelled his career in a new direction and led him to connect with Bren-Mar Construction.

After four years in the nation’s capital, Matt packed his belongings and headed west. Okay, not that far west; he landed in Royal Oak, Michigan and began work with Bren-Mar. Happy to be back to his home state – and close to his alma mater for football and tailgating – Matt has been enjoying the change, and challenge, that comes with any big move and career change. He has been continuing his education with a concerted focus on construction, in both on-the-job and formal instruction.

What’s in store for Matt’s future? Likely more time spent with his two brothers, Peter and Ben, now that they are closer again, geographically. Surrounded by Great Lakes and countless inland lakes, Matt also plans on picking up some new water-sport hobbies like kiteboarding and winter surfing. And as far as his future with Bren-Mar, we have no doubts he will continue to learn and develop into another exceptional member of the Team.

Welcome to Bren-Mar, we’re glad you’re here!

All Things Spooky

BLOG Halloween

Is your space so spooky it looks decorated for Halloween? Let us help eliminate some of the fright that can come along with a renovation project.

The Bren-Mar Team ain’t afraid of no ghosts…or bats, or cobwebs, or project of any size. If you don’t know where to start we can help by putting together a team of the best design professionals in the industry – they’re so good, it’s almost scary!

A safe and happy Halloween,

Brent Williams & The Bren-Mar Team

Often Imitated, Never Duplicated: Jay Thompson

A part of the Bren-Mar Team from the beginning, though we’re careful not to call him the “oldest” of the Bren-Mar Team, Jay Thompson celebrates his birthday this month on October 25. And we’d like to take this opportunity to recognize and honor him.

A loyal part of the Bren-Mar Team for over 26 years, Jay has truly been with us through the best of times and the worst of times, all the while bringing along his unwavering consistency and uniquely Jay-charm. We reached out to some other members of the Bren-Mar Team to see what they thought Jay brings to the team:

  • Jay is the Bren-Mar team’s ultimate fix-it guy!  And he brings Yummy Cupcakes! (Devon Carroll)
  • Jay brings unfathomable music trivia knowledge. And Yummy Cupcakes for the office gals. (Erica Benn)
  • Jay brings a plethora of valuable assets to the Bren-Mar team. He can tackle just about any task that may surface on a construction site and is able to complete it in exemplary fashion. However, his most valuable asset to the team, by a long shot, is his never ending repertoire of one-liners. (Matt Vanden Toorn)
  • Jay Thompson brings to the Bren-Mar team a quick witted sense of humor and a lot of cigarette smoke. (Wally Campbell)
  • Personally – Jaybird is one of the best people I know. Business – When Jay does a task or project no matter how small or big he makes it last for the long term! (Max Williams)
  • Jaybird the finisher: We put him with the customers at the end of the project to be their go-to guy for all their needs. He does everything and anything they request; from picking up an employee to hanging pictures to burying an Owners family pet they lost. When Jaybird has a task to complete it may appear he is going slow… but when he is done the job is 110% complete and rarely is there ever a call back. Thanks Jaybird! (Brent Williams)


Smoking Jay w Border

While we all know and love Jay here at Bren-Mar, many others know and love him outside the Bren-Mar Team. Jay enjoys spending time with his granddaughters, daughter and son-in-law who live near Grand Rapids. He also enjoys spending time with many friends here in Fenton, cheering Michigan sports teams through all seasons from the comforts of what has been described as quite the epic ‘man-cave’. And if you’re ever fortunate enough to receive an invite for a meal, you’d be wise to take him up on it. While many bachelors may get a bad rap for their (lack of) cooking skills, Jay has mastered meals well beyond the basics.



One of Jay’s hobbies is a skill often utilized while on-the-job as well; Jay is an incredibly talented carpenter and has been known to make the impossible possible for Bren-Mar Construction and our clients as well as friends, family and neighbors. From A-frame chalkboard signs to custom serving trays, Jay masters any project with precision and an eye for detail that is unmatched.


And Jay is certainly unmatched – from his dedication and commitment to the Bren-Mar Team, to his generosity to his granddaughters, to those drool-worthy meals, we are honored to have him as a coworker and a friend.

Happy Birthday, Jay! Thanks for being a part of the Bren-Mar Team!

Go Green, Go White, Go Jennifer Williams!

It’s no secret that the Bren-Mar team’s lineup isn’t loaded with English majors. In fact, if you’ve communicated with us via email or text you’ve likely learned this the hard way. While we excel at building, when it comes to our grammar we look to Mrs. Bren-Mar Construction – Jen-Mar – for help. In her years of marriage to Brent, Jennifer Williams has become a master at deciphering his Go Sparty!writings – which is no easy feat. In addition to being on our sideline for proof reading (things like this blog, email campaigns, marketing and our completely redesigned website), Jen plays full-time 4th grade teacher at Torrey Hill Intermediate in our hometown of Fenton. While a champion of Bren-Mar Construction, Jen’s true passion is Michigan State University sports. To call her a “fan” would be quite understated; in fact, her love for all things MSU is so potent she even converted her hubby, a one-time U of M supporter! So while Brent and Jen enjoy cheering for their Spartans from tailgates, bleachers, stadiums and arenas across the country, our cheers go out to you, Jennifer! Thanks for all you do behind the scenes in support of Bren-Mar Construction. And of course, go Spartans!


We’re Halfway There: Lasco Ford Sales Renovation

We’re Halfway There: Lasco Ford Sales Renovation

The final phase of a multi-phase master site plan, the renovation of the Sales Building at Lasco Ford in Fenton, Michigan is the crowning jewel of the entire project. Even at the halfway mark, the results are impressive. The ‘bones’ of the structure, originally built in the 1960’s, were strengthened and reinforced with additional structural steel, a new roof, all new mechanical and electrical equipment, and new gas and water lines. Aesthetically, there were major changes as well. The entire Phase 1 of the Sales Building renovation encompassed what was previously the Service Department. Let’s check in with assistant project manager, Matt Vanden Toorn to get his take on the project.

Q: Matt, you came in towards the tail-end of this first phase of renovations. What was going on when you came onsite in early May?

A: When I came on board in early May, Pillen Construction was framing the interior walls. Additionally, Extreme Electric, DM Burr, and Goyette Mechanical were installing their respective in-wall utilities: electrical, HVAC and plumbing.


Q: In addition to making sure your lead project manager is stocked with coffee and donuts, what are some of the behind the scenes parts of your job?

A: My additional responsibilities include verifying details in the drawings, working with our contractors, tracking our daily tasks, and maintaining communication with the owner.


Q: What were some of the biggest challenges the team worked to overcome in the last 2 1/2 months to meet the turnover date for the Sales team to move in?

A: Our biggest challenge was keeping the schedule. It was inevitable that we would be met with issues that would potentially push our schedule back. Keeping our schedule required close coordination with our contractors and accurate scheduling.


Q: What knowledge from the first phase will you and the team carry forward to help with phase two?

A: There were some structural issues that Bren-Mar identified in Phase 1. We used the information we gathered and the lessons we learned during Phase 1 to avoid any issues with the structural steel in Phase 2.


Q: Overall, how have both Bren-Mar Construction and Lasco Ford worked to make the project to this point a success given the close proximity of work areas?

A: The most important aspect, in my opinion, is communication. Lasco Ford and Bren-Mar Construction have been in constant communication regarding the status of the project and the least intrusive way to maintain ongoing construction during the operating hours.



The newly renovated sales area is a far cry from service bays packed with vehicle lifts and tool boxes it previously housed, and both Bren-Mar Construction and Lasco Ford are thrilled with the progress to reach this half-way mark. We look forward to wrapping up the remainder of the project over the coming months. Stay tuned for a final update coming later this year. Check out the portfolio page for Lasco Ford here!

West Exterior Wall Before & After West Exterior Wall In Progress

A Closer Look – Little Joe’s Tavern

Celebrating 80 years in business with 79 of those years at its present location, it seems understated to call Little Joe’s Tavern a community icon. Given its cherished place in the hearts of the community, it was with careful thought and deliberate intention that the restaurant undertook its major renovation in the summer of 2014.

Rear Entry Hallway - Before & AfterCust Restroom - Before & After

Architects Ron + Roman of Birmingham, Michigan were the ones tasked with bridging the gap between cherished nostalgia and modern, staying style. Bren-Mar Construction was the general contractor responsible for completing the major project on a two-week schedule. With many, many months of planning and preparing, coordinating and scheduling the two week construction began with crews working around the clock to clear and demolish the entire front-of-house space, including a banquet room, main dining, bar, bar dining and restrooms.

 Main Dining Back Entry - Before & After

Main Dining - Before & After

Adding to the challenge was the unknown elements that could be uncovered as demolition began in each are due to the space being comprised of the blending of three separate buildings. Given the short timeline to complete, crews continued working all hours of the day and night with Bren-Mar coordinating and scheduling multiple trades in every area of the space.


Main Dining Back Entry - Before & After Bar - Before & After

The 5,518 square foot renovation was celebrated by the community of Grand Blanc and the loyal patrons of Little Joe’s only 16 days after work began. Key to the success of such a drastic and complete renovation on a very short time frame was the precise planning, coordinating and scheduling. All parties were committed to the strict timelines and worked together with the shared goal of a timely completion, and a cold beer at the new bar! Check out the portfolio page for Little Joe’s Tavern here!

Happy Memorial Day

Memorial Day Email Image 2


This weekend, the Bren-Mar Team will join many of you in celebrating with our friends and family. While we enjoy the beautiful weather and a barbecue, let us pause for a moment to remember.

Let us remember that many have given their lives to secure the freedoms we enjoy. Let us remember to honor those who serve to protect us. Let us remember the families of our veterans who will gather this weekend without a loved one among them.

Bren-Mar Construction would like to express our gratitude and appreciation for all our veterans.

As you celebrate this Memorial Day…remember.
Brent Williams and
the Bren-Mar Team