ROGER POLLOCK IS MORE CONFIDENT today than he was in 1998.
Given his success then, years ago, he was running Portland's top home building company, RMP Properties, closing almost 500 homes and grossing about $30 million annually. Then D.R. Horton came calling with the money Pollock thought he needed to grow the company into the regional powerhouse he'd dreamed of.
But soon after D.R. Horton took over, Pollock left the company, with financial security and plans to start another building company as soon as the four years of his noncompete clause ended.
In 2002, he did just that, closing two homes for $303,000 in revenue. Fast forward two years: In 2004, his new company, Buena Vista Custom Homes, closed 148 units for $42 million, a 1,083 percent three-year compounded annual growth rate, enough to shoot the company to the top of this year's Fast Track list.
What's more, Pollock's on track to grow the company this year to 300 closings and $175 million in revenue, and the Portland Business Journal recently named Buena Vista the fastest-growing company—not just home builder—in Oregon. “We had more ability in our old company than we had the confidence to realize we didn't need a big brother to reach our goals,” recalls Pollock.
It turns out that Pollock and his team already had what they needed to succeed: extensive knowledge of the complicated Portland market (new development is constrained within an urban growth boundary that surrounds the city), business plans and systems, and a strong reputation to help secure additional financing.
In fact, many of Pollock's colleagues new to the Fast Track also credit their knowledge of their markets as a key to beating the competition. Those smarts, combined with old-fashioned good luck and timing and aggressive business strategies, have produced the formula for this group to outpace the rest of the already fast-moving home building industry.
PICKING UP THE PACE As a child, Todd Tatum vowed never to become a home builder. But watching his grandfather, and then his parents, operate some of the first production building companies in Southern California's High Desert, the lure seeped in enough that he joined the family business, then called Tatum Development, in 1990. “That was right when the market here was tanking. I learned the inside of the business during the bad times,” says Tatum, now vice president and CFO of the family's newest venture, American Housing Group, based in Victorville, Calif.
Times got so rough that the family shelved the building business in 1994. Tatum and his father spent the next eight years as private water brokers, moving water throughout California. But a rebounding housing market called them back in 2002, when they closed 35 homes.
The Tatums were willing to take another chance on the industry, Tatum says, because they saw fundamental changes in the market, which had been a bedroom community to Los Angeles during the 1980s. “We're creating jobs up here for the first time. People are working and living here. That's making a big difference,” he says. That shift helped the company hit 121 closings last year. Tatum says he's aiming for 320 this year.
Learn more about markets featured in this article: Portland, OR.