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Karpfinger, Contractors Exchange founder, dies at age 74

By: Caley Clinton//May 31, 2011//

Karpfinger, Contractors Exchange founder, dies at age 74

By: Caley Clinton//May 31, 2011//

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By Caley Clinton

Tony Karpfinger

Tony Karpfinger, a one-time co-owner of Edgerton Contractors Inc., always had a place at the Oak Creek-based family business. But he wanted to branch out on his own.

Karpfinger, who died Thursday at 74, was a partner at Edgerton — founded by his late brother, Barney, in 1956 — from January 1975 to May 1987, said Tom Wolf, treasurer for Edgerton.

After he left the family business, Karpfinger went on to establish the West Allis-based Contractors Exchange in 1993. The exchange, which was sold to Master Builders Association of Wisconsin Inc. in 2005 and closed three years later, was Karpfingerís pride, said his wife of 50 years, Barbara Karpfinger.

“He worked with his brothers at Edgerton, but he wanted to be on his own,” Karpfinger said of her late husband.

“He loved doing take-offs, and he wanted to do more of that, so he founded the exchange.”

Karpfinger started the Contractors Exchange to offer contractors expanded options for viewing plans, his wife said. The plan room stayed open all day every day, she said, rather than closing at the end of the workday.

“Contractors thought it was neat to have that 24-hour option,” she said. “Especially for smaller contractors who couldn’t spend time during the workday, it was a real boon. Sometimes we’d drive by and see the light on at 1 a.m.”

Longtime residents of Greenfield, Karpfinger and his wife moved to Pewaukee around the time of the Contractors Exchange sale, she said. The couple had six children: Mark (Peggy Machacek), Laura (Michel) Clark, Judy (David) Stokes, Eileen (Aaron Rosselle), Anne (Bill) Lewis and the late Tommy.

As her husband got older and started seeing the first signs of the frontotemporal dementia that led to his death, Karpfinger said, he was sad to realize it was time to sell the exchange.

“That was his idea, his baby,” she said. “He was always working on it, thinking of ways to make it better.”


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