Since 1999, when it was founded, San Ramon, Calif.-based Americap Development Partners had established itself in Northern California as a developer, consultant, and construction firm. But its rather antiseptic name didn’t do justice to the image Scott Clark, its founder, chairman, and CEO, wanted to project of a home builder and developer that creates communities “that will hold the promise of brighter futures for all of the families, partners, and associates who place their trust in us.”

So the company is hoping that its new name, True Life Communities, better reflects that image at a time when this builder is planning a major push to become “a household name” in the western United States.

The company, which by choice did not build in 2009 and only closed a handful of homes last year, is now active in four communities in northern and southern California that have about 2,000 lots entitled. Clark says his company plans to add 500 more lots this year and 1,000 more in 2010. The company also plans to close 50 and 200 homes this year and next, respectively.

Its homes range from 1,300 to 4,300 square feet, with starter prices from the low $200s to $1.2 million.

True Life’s transformation dates back to January 2008, when Clark formed a partnership with 10 industry executives whose pedigrees range from builders D.R. Horton, Lennar, and KB Home, to Catellus Development and Chicago Title. “I couldn’t have touched any of these guys in 2004 through 2007,” says Clark. According to True Life’s revamped website, the company’s management team has grown to 24, including 18 partners.

This partnership coalesced to capitalize on the housing recession that has deflated home and land values in California substantially. “Today’s market conditions are ideal for companies that take a smart, disciplined approach to growth,” explains Clark. He notes that while other builders may have been retrenching in 2010, “we were putting $15 million to work” to acquire land, including its purchase last June of a 36-lot subdivision in Escondido, Calif., where lots average three acres and the builder’s homes will have starting prices of $1 million.

The company plans to expand into the Sacramento market later this year. So far, True Life is being financed by its partners’ equity and by two wealthy families whom Clark declines to identify. However, he acknowledges that the “No. 1 challenge” for True Life going forward will be “attracting capital,” which he believes will be abetted by the management team he’s put together.

To get the word out about his rebranding, True Life has hired a P.R. firm, Kovach Marketing in Los Angeles, which is developing what Clark calls “a video campaign” for his company. He adds, without providing specifics, that his company plans to be more involved than builders usually are in the communities it builds, including their schools and other support infrastructure.

John Caulfield is senior editor for Builder magazine.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Los Angeles, CA.