Benvenuti and Stein’s history and factors behind its success was recently featured in The Winnetka Current.
Geno Benvenuti explains how much North Shore homes have evolved over the last 41 years but the philosophy of Benvenuti and Stein and the high quality craftmanship have remained the same.
Creativity is in his blood and so is an old-fashioned work ethic.
The success of Winnetka’s Geno Benvenuti’s business, Benvenuti and Stein Inc., vouches for his 41 years of quality workmanship. His firm has a long history of designing and building custom cabinetry, new homes, creating custom cabinetry and remodeling houses, many of which are on the North Shore.
“I could not think of doing anything else,” Benvenuti said. “I have been in business continuously.”
That urge to create and build something began shortly after Benvenuti graduated from college.
“I grew up in Wilmette, started working in construction, learned carpentry skills and worked with a designer,” he said. “That set me in motion to do more.”
Jeff Stein and Benvenuti opened their own design and building business in 1977. He bought out Stein in 1981 and has had his own firm ever since.
“I went to night school at Chicago’s Harrington School of Design to learn more about design and then took classes at Oakton Community College to further my knowledge of architecture,” Benvenuti said.
He learned the subtle, yet quality ways of building new and making improvements in older structures. All of his cabinets have miter-fold corners. He uses only the best grades of materials.
Benvenuti’s eagerness to be creative, while adhering to quality workmanship has paid off.
His reputation grew as the remodeling bubble of the 1980s became more robust.`
“Remodeling took off in the 1980s,” he said. “The inventory of homes was from a different era. Houses were much smaller and not adequate for growing families. Owners wanted family rooms and bigger kitchens.”
Benvenuti obliged by doing what has since set him apart from most other designers and builders and contributed to his business success.
“We do the complete job for our customers from start to finish,” Benvenuti said. “We are there for the entire project, no handing it off to someone else. Our process helps keep us on schedule and budget.”
Benvenuti is extremely proud of that facet of his business.
He added sometimes, a customer will go away for the summer or an extended period of time.
“We take over, send photos of the project throughout the process, get the customer’s approval,” Benvenuti said. “We do it all from concept to completion including maid service at the end of a job. They come home to a sparkling, clean environment.”
His most favorite projects focus on interior work and remodeling kitchens.
“We do a lot of specialty millwork and cabinetry,” Benvenuti said. “We also build new homes and reclaim the original architectural beauty of homes that were covered over by individuals who seemingly had no true appreciation for their once beautiful exteriors.”
He cites various homes on the North Shore that he and his staff remodeled to look like they originally were intended.
Benvenuti believes in recycling on a personal level.
“All reusable material we take out of a house when remodeling it goes to the nonprofit Evanston Rebuilding Warehouse,” said Bevenuti, who is a board member. “All proceeds go to supporting the warehouse and training underprivileged men and women in the deconstruction trade.”
Benvenuti is proud of the praise he has received from the Preservation Society of Winnetka for the houses whose exteriors he transformed back to the beautiful ones they once were.
“Since 1977, we have completed 910 projects — 372 in Winnetka and 90 in Glencoe,” he said. “About 220 of them are repeat customers.”
Benvenuti was quick to mention that occasionally real estate ads listing homes for sale, which he has remodeled or built, have a line in the copy that says, “built or designed by Benvenuti and Stein.”
Benvenuti also takes pride in having a staff of long-term employees.
“Two-third of my employees have been with me for 15-29 years,” he added. “We all have the same vision and take pride in our work.”
He tells young entrepreneurs to never give up regardless of whatever scares them.
“I have been in business continually for 41 years and have had some hard times,” Benvenuti said. “But I tell young people to keep going, face their fears and get ready for the next level of success. What scares you is probably what will help you the most when you face your fears head on. Having a passion gets you through the fear part. Never give up no matter what.”
The Benvenuti and Stein showroom is located at 899 1/2 Green Bay Road, Winnetka. It’s cabinet and millwork facility is in Evanston.
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