How Building Houses became a Family

Tradition for Nichols & Associates.

by Don Napier / Homes & Land Magazine


Sometimes, when you want people to know exactly where your business is going, it is necessary to tell where you’ve been. Peter Nichols owns a business that specializes in Custom Designed Homes, but since 1990, he has been in the golf package business under the name of PR&M of Tennessee, Inc. Raised in Milwaukee and Marinette, Wisconsin. He went to school in Madison and started his real estate career in 1970, buying apartments and building. He started his own real estate company in 1979.


Nichols came to Cumberland County from Wisconsin in 1987 with plans to get into the real estate and building business. His first job here was with Fairfield Resorts Inc. selling lots and timeshares after finding out that he had to work for a Tennessee broker for two years, despite having his license in Wisconsin. “During my time at FCI, I realized that there was no organized rental or golf package program in the Glade,” Nichols said. “Even though I tried to persuade FCI to start one in 1989 along with the help of Stonehenge Golf Pro Tom Waltz, I could get no interest in the idea from the FCI powers; Len Grandith (VP of Sales) and Maxin Drake, Director of In- House Tours.”


So, with a strong background in marketing and sales, Nichols decided to start his own golf package business, opening Fairfield Rentals in March of 1990. But even then, he had his sights on the building business. His goal was to establish a business on Peavine Road, build clients through golf packages and rentals and wait a few years before he actually launched the business full force, waiting until the baby boomers could mature a bit. “We are still in the golf package business,” Nichols said,” but I am following the path of three generations of builders and designers in our family. Our primary business is home building.”


About three years ago Nichols made the decision to pursue the home building business. It had been his plans ever since he came to Tennessee, to put his experience and heritage together to build new homes.


From Russia to Tennessee:


His grandfather, Michael Nikel (changed to Nickels when he came to the United States), worked with his father building log houses in the Russian Ukraine. “They had a contract with the Czar to build barracks. They cut the logs, pre-numbered them and shipped them prefab to various locations in Russia,” Peter said.


As unrest grew in Russia, his grandfather found his way to Pound, Wisconsin with the help of a Baptist circuit rider minister. He lived and worked in a logging community after coming to the states. As World War I approached, he was drafted into the 32nd Red Arrow Division and served his country from 1917-1918. After the war, spent the next 27 years of his life as a farmer

and grocery store owner.


Peter’s father went to the war late. In 1944 he became a merchant marine. His ship was bombed in Okinawa and he spent several weeks in the hospital and was shipped home. The war ended shortly thereafter. “Upon my Dad’s return home to Pound, my grandfather and grandmother, along with my dad, two brother and two sisters, moved to Milwaukee, WI, where they started building homes under the name, Nickols Construction.


Taking advantage of the building boom created by veterans returning home after the war, dad Nickols changed to Nichols Construction and their business began to grow. They would buy a lot; build a 900 sq ft house doing all the work themselves with hand-cut boards, mixing mortar by hand, etc. Their first home sold for $5,500 in West Allis, WI. Building houses became a family tradition.


Peter says his grandfather was a traditional builder, going “strictly by the book,” but his father and uncles wanted to use innovative ideas available at the time, open floor plans, in-kitchen grills, laundry rooms on the first floor and imported stone (Crab Orchard) from Tennessee and (Mica) from North Carolina.


“One of the many things my dad taught me is, “you can pull a rope a lot farther than you can push one,” so to get ahead, he believed in using the modernizations of the day in his homes rather than following the pack. He gave people what they were looking for. “We are trying to follow that same philosophy today in our new homes,” Peter Nichols said.





The Ukraine

Grandfather Nikel started building log barracks and houses in Russia.


Pound, WI

Grandfather Nikel came to the U.S. changing his name to Nickels.


Milwaukee, WI Grandfather Nickels and Father Nichols began building new homes after WWII.


Milwaukee, WI

Grandfather, Father and brothers open Nichols Construction. Father Nichols changes name to Nichols Construction.


Madison, WI

Peter Nichols invests in real estate apartments and homes.


Madison, WI

Peter Nichols gets real estate brokers license and develops commercial and residential real estate.


Crossville, TN

Peter Nichols opens Fairfield Rentals to begin Golf Packages and Rental business.


Crossville, TN

Peter Nichols changes name of company to PR&M of Tennessee, Inc.


Crossville, TN

Peter Nichols, under Nichols and Associates Custom Designed Homes, starts building new houses in Fairfield Glade.


Today Nichols & Associates is a specialized custom builder with a focus on prime-location construction. High quality standards are incorporated into each of their golf course, lake or mountain homes.




Nichols & Associates

3644 Peavine Road

Crossville, TN 38571










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