Jared Saint Aubyn started his building firm in his native Colorado in 2009, and his decision to start in Colorado Springs was a smart one. The military’s presence there was growing, guaranteeing buyers with paychecks, even as the recession shrunk payrolls elsewhere in the state. Plus, large builders weren’t in town.
“They weren’t here doing $40,000 in incentives on every house,” he recalls.
Saint Aubyn built in neighborhoods close to Peterson and Schriever Air Force bases, the U.S. Air Force Academy, and Fort Carson. The strategy worked. By 2012, Saint Aubyn Homes was a market leader and one of the fastest-growing builders in the country, closing 605 homes that year, up 167 percent over 2011. Saint Aubyn is No. 50 on the BUILDER 100 list.
But Saint Aubyn Homes’ success wasn’t confined to just building where big builders weren’t. It also promised high-quality, energy-efficient houses within 60 days, important in a military market were people transfer quickly.
To make the deal even sweeter, the company includes some “luxury” upgrades in its selling price that other builders charge extra for, including granite countertops, hardwood and tile floors, and Kohler faucets.
Business was so good that Jared Saint Aubyn drove two-plus hours north and started a Northern Colorado division, building houses in Windsor, Johnstown, Mead, and Frederick. That market, where Saint Aubyn’s does have a few large national competitors, required a different strategy. There, Saint Aubyn emphasizes his own local ties.
“I was born and raised in Greeley,” he said. “I have roots in that area. Those are small-town communities.” In fact, he often stays with his parents during the days a week he’s up there.
Competing for Land
Land is one area where Saint Aubyn works hard to deal with larger builders.
“There are some things you can’t compete on,” he says. “We’re not going to buy a 10,000-lot subdivision. It’s difficult because a large piece of raw land with 2,000 lots is going to be difficult for us to carry. But we can get a 300- or 400-lot [subdivision] done.”
Some national builders have to push a purchase decision through a land committee located in another state.,but when Saint Aubyn Homes’ finds a piece of property it wants, it can moves quickly to close the deal..SBeing nimble is”the only advantage we have,” says Saint Aubyn. “We are able to meet the farmer on Monday and do the contract on Wednesday.”
But Saint Aubyn’s next challenge isn’t land, its founder says. “We have got our hands full. Quite honestly, the labor shortage is what’s going to hold us up, robbing from our closings.” -- T.B.
Saint Aubyn Homes, Colorado Springs, Co.
2012 Closings: 605
Home Prices: Starting upper $100,000s
Markets Served: Colorado Springs, Fort Collins, Colo.
Success Strategy: Fast construction, standard luxury upgrades
Teresa Burney is a senior editor for BUILDER.