DESIGN MANAGER, AKBD – Amy Hinck
Amy Hinck spent many summers pouring concrete and working on other masonry jobs with her dad in northern Minnesota. That experience along with her interest in drawing, math, and wanting to help bridge the communication gap between trades and designers, prompted her to move to Minneapolis to obtain her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Architecture.
During her ten plus years in the remodeling industry she has worked as a drafter, designer, project manager, and store manager. She has achieved certification as an Associate Kitchen and Bath Designer through the NKBA, as well as a LEED Green Associate through the USGBC. At Castle and The Natural Built Home Store she pitches in wherever needed. She works on keeping the showrooms up to date, assists designers with projects, trains new employees, and leads design work for the Save A Castle division. She develops, edits, and maintains companywide processes and documents while also fostering continuing education among the design staff.
Amy is organized and pays close attention to the details. She loves coming up with new layouts, making a big impact through small changes, knowing that her work can greatly improve the daily lives of clients and helping things run smoothly. She strives to balance aesthetics, function, cost, and sustainability.
In her free time she enjoys walking her dog, playing co-rec softball, spending time with family and friends, and admittedly binge watching sitcoms.
REMODELING DESIGN PRO – Mark Benzell
Mark started remodeling homes in 1978 (about the same time he discovered Tab soda) and operated his own design/build firm for 25 years. He has been a long time member of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry and served on the Board of Directors for the Minnesota Chapter of NARI from 1991-2007.
In 1992, Mark’s company was chosen by Remodeling Magazine as one of their ‘Big 50’ contractors of the year. As President of the Minnesota Chapter in 1994, Mark was honored with the Industry Leader of the Year Award. In December of 2007, Mark was named as a founding Director for Minnesota GreenStar and served as the Minnesota GreenStar Treasurer and Operations Manager through the end of 2011. Mark’s current focus has been on Architectural Design and Sales with Castle Building & Remodeling since March 2010. While not working Mark likes to play poker and drink Tab soda.
REMODELING DESIGNER / INTERIOR DESIGNER – Natalie Hanson
Natalie received her Bachelor of Science in Interior Design in 2012 and has been actively working in the industry ever since. She attended an alternative high school at the Minnesota Zoo called the School of Environmental Studies, where she developed a passion for environmental sciences. Right out of high school, she decided to pursue a career in Meteorology at the University of Oklahoma where she spent two years chasing tornados and attending Sooner football games. While this was exciting, she knew that it was not a lifetime career path for her. She has been interested in art, architecture and interiors since childhood and settled on the field of interior design for her next educational adventure.
She loves to use her knowledge of environmental sciences in her designs to help create functional, livable spaces that are sustainable and healthy for her clients. Natalie believes that listening intently to a client’s needs is the most important piece in creating the perfect personalized design. She finds inspiration for design in traveling – she enjoys traveling to Europe, specifically Scandinavia – and also finds inspiration in nature.
She spends her free time doing outdoor activities such as hiking, biking & kayaking, yoga, cooking while drinking wine, and of course, watching thunderstorms with extreme excitement.
REMODELING DESIGNER / INTERIOR DESIGNER – Ashley Hansen
Designing and crafting is something that has been ingrained into Ashley’s character through the influence of family and friends. The concept of DIY (do-it-yourself) was taught to her early on. From years of practicing this whether it be sewing clothes, sewing her comforter, making art, or upholstering furniture she developed a passion for design.
Ashley recognizes that designers are given a great responsibility and opportunity to redefine quality. Interior Design is an outlet in which she is able to share this belief knowing how the layout, selections and aesthetic appearance of a space can truly impact people. Therefor she truly enjoys the opportunity to build relationships with clients and help them form solutions which consider both form and function and best accommodate their lifestyle.
Beyond work she likes to get outside as much as possible and is typically up for doing anything active. Some of her favorites are snowboarding, walking, rollerblading, and exploring the city via bike. A special appreciation for NE drives her to investigate the local spots unique to the area.
REMODELING DESIGNER / INTERIOR DESIGNER – Emily Blonigen
Emily Blonigen received her Bachelors of Science in Interior Design from the Art Institutes International Minnesota. One thing that she appreciates from her education is the artistic approach Ai takes to the Interior Design profession. Emily is currently studying for her LEED Green Associates Certification. Her main interest in the field is to find opportunities to create sustainable and healthy environments. Design may be achieved through trends, unique styles, colors, and materials- but great design is found through considering the users experience and the continuing future within that environment. With knowledgeable design practices and smart material selections, she is opening the doors of design towards a prosperous and more sustainable future that she is excited to be a part of.
Blonigen enjoys traveling and has been to South America three times and Central America once. She hopes to one day move to the southern hemisphere for the great food, sunshine, fun music, architectural history, and cheap drinks.
REMODELING DESIGNER / INTERIOR DESIGNER – Jennifer Falck
Jennifer has used her life’s experiences as a catalyst to her career in Interior Design. With her father’s experience of being a Patternmaker in the US Navy, drafting up blueprints and mechanical plans, and working in a wood shop building cabinets helped to realize the creativity of what can be obtained by working with wood. After attending the University of Wisconsin-Stout for some time, she found that she was ready for the real world of work. And many years of working as an Administrative Assistant, Human Resources Assistant, and Safety Assistant, she really delved into what she wanted to be when she “grew up”. Interior Design seemed to be a perfect fit. Jennifer excelled in schooling, obtained “Student of the Year” for the Interior Design program, graduated with a 4.0, and received her AAS Degree from Century College in 2013. She has been in the Design/Build industry ever since. Her philosophy with her clients in Design is to create a space that really says who the client is, and to tell her client’s story. She can see beauty in all things and you will always expect the unexpected in her designs. One part of design that she is especially passionate for is designing spaces for her clients’ furry friends. In her free time, Jennifer enjoys spending time with her husband Matt, 16 year old son Daunte, and French Bulldog, Cruz Anna. She loves going to the dog park on weekends, checking out new restaurants, brew pubs, and wineries, taking road trips to her hometown in Wisconsin, the Minnesota Vikings, and antiquing. She also enjoys managing her family’s barbecue food trailer social media, and can be found winning awards with her family on the competition barbecue circuit.
REMODELING DESIGNER / INTERIOR DESIGNER – Amanda Reinert
Amanda was first introduced to the world of design through a fascination with multiple subjects including art, psychology, writing and philosophy. Intent on involving these multiple passions into her future career (and a small push from the game “The Sims”), Amanda decided to enroll in the Architecture program at the University of Minnesota, where she received a Bachelor of Design (BDA) in Architecture. During the summer months and for a year after she graduated, Amanda interned under two well-known local Architects and started to focus on residential design. Once the internships were up, it became clear that residential design was where she wanted to be, and she settled into the remodeling business in 2011, where she has been ever since. Amanda appreciates the diverse tasks, challenges, colleagues, and clients she works with daily. She states, “There is something aw-inspiring about the entire process, from the first handshake with a homeowner, to the design phase, production, and final walk-through of a completed project… all of which was once a concept, and is born into reality. The design and remodeling process echoes the story and personality unique to each homeowner, which is very rewarding in and of itself.” Through the years, Amanda has designed and completed multiple projects from simple bathroom updates to kitchens, basements, additions, and whole house remodels. She looks forward to many more.
Design Team Titles
Our designers each have unique backgrounds and skill sets, although most received degrees in either Interior Design or Architecture. Below you will see how many hours are expected of Castle’s design/sales staff and how their continuing education and industry experience relate to their titles as well.
Design Intern: 1 Year minimum in this position (or 3+ years relevant industry experience to skip this step)
Remodeling Designer: 16+ field credit hours minimum, plus one year or industry experience
Remodeling Design Pro: 32+ field credit hours in past two years (16 hours annual ongoing continuing education), $600,000+ in annual completed remodeling projects two consecutive years.