History and Values

Straw bale house built by general contractors New Prairie Construction in Urbana ChampaignHistory of New Prairie Construction Company

New Prairie Construction Company was founded in 1988 by central Illinois natives Julie Vogel Birdwell and Jill Mulder. For many years they worked as a team, tackling a wide range of projects, often in older or historic buildings. In 1997, New Prairie was awarded the inspiring job of remodeling the Old Town Champaign residence known as the Wilber Mansion. Suddenly they needed their first employees. Year by year the company has grown, and in 2015 New Prairie Construction expanded into the design and installation of solar systems to answer the call for a reliable and local solar provider to service Central Illinois.

In August 2018, after a year of transition and Jill Mulder’s retirement, New Prairie Construction became Central Illinois’s first worker-owned construction company! We now have 6 owners, many of whom have been with the company for more than 10 years. The owners share profits and use a democratic process of consensus to make policy, financial, and other decisions for the company. Over time, we hope all employees who meet the eligibility requirements will choose to be owners.

Although the company structure has changed and our beloved Chickenboss (aka Jill) has retired, New Prairie has the same skilled and caring staff and the same commitment to providing our customers with quality remodeling, construction, and solar panel installation services. We continue to contribute and invest in our community through service, charitable giving, and providing good jobs for local folks.

Our Foundational Values:

To honor craft and community through our work.

Creating Community
We foster a diverse and inclusive work culture that supports employees professionally and personally by encouraging individual creativity, health, and fulfillment in the workplace. We strive to develop enduring and respectful relationships with each other, our clients, subcontractors, vendors and community. We want New Prairie to be a place where our employees can enjoy working, earning a living, serving our customers, and growing professionally. Our community volunteer and outreach work, and becoming a Worker-Owned Cooperative, are vital steps towards realizing these goals.

Quality Craftsmanship
We are committed to the details of design and integrate technically advanced products with traditional materials and techniques. Continuing education keeps our crew on top of lead safety methods, best practices in remodeling, and green building innovations.

Conservation and Preservation
We are committed to conservation and preservation, and have won many awards for our restoration work. We are keenly interested in sustainable and green construction methods, a passion that led us to build Urbana’s first straw bale house and studio.

Most importantly, your satisfaction comes first. We respect your space and property, and strive for daily cleanup of the job site and a consistent and uninterrupted work schedule. New Prairie’s commitment to customer service, communication, and accommodation has earned us a long list of satisfied and repeat customers.