If Randy Birdwell’s career were a play, Gracepoint Homes would be his encore.
Birdwell, the company’s CEO, retired from D.R. Horton in 2005. He had worked his way up from starting his career at General Homes in 1978, eventually becoming president and CEO at Emerald Homes before it was sold to D.R. Horton in 2001.
But cheering for Texas A & M football during his retirement wasn’t fulfilling enough. So, six months later Birdwell joined forces with another Horton executive, Tom Cox Jr., and started Gracepoint Homes with the drive to build communities the way they saw fit.
“When you get to do a start-over, you get to throw everything out,” Birdwell, CEO, says. “To be a production builder, you don’t have to build low end and have the fastest financial turn possible.”
The idea to start the company was motivated around creating family-oriented neighborhoods by developing well-positioned lots and to focus on exceptional architecture creating unique, luxury homes.
“Some people think luxury is taking a box and putting a little better elevation on it and saying 'now we have a luxury home',” he says. “That’s like putting lipstick on a pig; we don’t do that. We are asking the customer to pay us for the architecture.”
And homebuyers are certainly willing. The developer is able to score prices from the high $200,000’s up to $1.3 million.
“We execute like a production builder, we’re just extremely flexible with the consumer,” he says. “We’re allowing them to personalize their home.”
Staying Nimble, Delivering High Touch
By 2012 the company had really made waves in the industry and a partnership with the International Housing Partners was born to break new ground.
Each Gracepoint community features a set style and theme throughout the entire development. Outdoor and neighborhood finishes are all cohesive, carrying the theme throughout the entire community.
“Because we’re small, I think we’re able to deliver that high touch to the product,” Birdwell says. “A typical production builder is not going to want to even do this. That’s to our benefit, because we are not going to want to compete against them. Not because we can’t, but because our product is so unique.”
Consider the Lakeside Cove development located in The Woodlands, Texas. The development boasts an Italian influence to the finishes of the homes and broader communal spaces.The gated community, which was previously farmland, is being developed about 10 miles away from Exxon Mobil's Houston-area campus where many executives and employees are relocating to follow the energy boom. The development features panoramic views of the local lake, walking access to a golf course and a homeowner association that maintains lawns and home exteriors.
“We just don’t build houses,” he says. “We
create communities and that’s part of our fabric. I’ve made plenty of money in
this business and it’s not about that.”