No. 141: Trumark Cos.
Trumark Cos.’ 57% growth in 2015, which vaulted it to No. 141 on the Builder 100, doesn’t have roots in the past year, or even the past two. The seeds were sown during the recession. When the crash hit, founders Michael Maples and Gregg Nelson finally got back to their original dream of building homes after nearly two decades of dealing solely in land entitlements.
Michael Maples and Gregg Nelson
Other builders were also looking to scoop up land from dealers who needed a quick out. But Maples and Nelson didn’t just want the cheapest land; they wanted the right land. Instead of buying in rural and suburban locations where land was cheapest, Trumark eyed urban areas, where they figured people would be moving for jobs. They bought infill lots and worked with California’s small-lot ordinance to build more homes in high-density locations. Their experience in entitlements helped them win more approvals.
Trumark Cos.’ growth last year was in large part due to another demographic insight—that the urban core would need a release valve when rents and home values soared from the incoming demand.
In 2013, Maples and Nelson targeted land deals on the edges of San Francisco and Los Angeles, where people are close to work and amenities, but where mortgage payments are cheaper and space is bigger.
“We saw the beginnings of millennials starting to have children and looking for different living experiences, wanting to go to places with good schools or more affordability so one person can stay home. That’s just beginning to happen, and we’re trying to get in front of that,” says Maples.
Throughout their growth from just 24 closings in 2010 to 211 closings in 2015, Nelson says the company has relied on its ability to understand what brings the most value to a piece of land and what politicians and neighborhoods want to see.
Nelson and Maples also focus heavily on the psychographics of intended buyers to create a sense of place through amenities such as walking trails and open land, or rooftop living in denser projects.
“We really try to accomplish that goal of enhancing the neighborhoods,” says Nelson, “not just building more and more houses on a lot because we can.”
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