H&H Homes

A background in real estate helps H&H Homes’ leadership understand what their customers are looking for in a new home. “We started on the sales and marketing side and became home builders, so we’re in touch with the customer – that’s our roots,” President Greg West says. “I think that explains some of our attention to detail and our ability to meet consumers’ expectations.”

The Fayetteville, N.C.-based company was founded in 1992 by CEO Ralph Huff, who has experience in banking and real estate. Since its establishment, the company has grown from being a custom homebuilder to building nearly 3,000 single-family homes, apartments and commercial office buildings in six North Carolina counties.

Assisting the company in its efforts as a general contractor are a number of tradespeople and subcontractors. “We’ve been very loyal to our subcontractors and suppliers and have long-term relationships with many of them,” West says. “In return, they’ve been very responsive and good to us.”

Range of Offerings

More than 80 percent of H&H Homes’ current business is concentrated on building homes on spec for the military market, particularly in the areas surrounding Fort Bragg and Camp Lejeune, West says.

The average sales price of an H&H homes is $200,000. “We serve the whole gamut of customers,” he adds. “We have townhouses starting at $99,000 and homes sitting on golf courses that are selling for $400,000.”

Outside of the military market, H&H is currently working on building a number of condominium and townhouse developments. The company started work last year on a mixed-use commercial and residential condo and townhouse development with retail space in the 300 block of Hay Street in downtown Fayetteville, West says.

Value and Quality

Military-related construction in part helped the company ride out the recession, according to the company.

“We were insulated more than most because of military work and didn’t feel the effects as badly as in other parts of the country, although we were affected,” West says.

A company focus on efficiency also helped H&H through difficult times. These efforts include reducing the price per square foot from more than $100 to $80 on its homes, switching to monoslab foundations, and eliminating several floor plan options. “We were able to weather the storm by offering a much greater value to the customer and focusing on being more lean and production minded,” he adds.

In addition to offering value to the customer, H&H Homes also prides itself on the “curb appeal” and quality of its homes. “We have a history of good design and a very keen eye toward what the customer likes,” West says. “Our houses stand out from a design standpoint, and our warranty service and follow-up after sale are unparalleled.”

“I think the reputation is out there with Realtors that when they sell H&H Homes their customers will have a good experience,” he adds.

Building `Dreams’

In February 2009, H&H Homes launched its American Dream Collection, its first “big box” line of homes offering large square footages over a small footprint.

“Our American Dream Collection product focuses on providing a great value for the dollar – large square footage, along with attractive home designs, and open floor plans,” the company says. “These are homes with `more livability, sustainability and more value.’”

H&H Homes launched an extensive marketing campaign to promote the new line, including print, online and outdoor advertising as well as e-mail blasts. The new homes were promoted under the tagline “Dream Big, Save Big.” The Collection was launched simultaneously in four non-competing neighborhoods, an approach that increased traffic and pulled consumers to different parts of H&H Homes’ market, it says.

“The marketing campaign to launch our American Dream Collection was a great success,” the company says. “We sold 100 of the new plans in the remaining 10 months of 2009 and have already sold more than 300 of the plans through December 2010.”

“The successful marketing and launch of the American Dream Collection has propelled the company through one of the worst housing downturns in history.”

Community Focus

A large part of H&H’s focus on quality comes from its commitment to its local community. “We live in the communities we build in, see our customers around town, and go to church with our customers,” West says.

Ralph Huff and his wife Linda – the company’s board chairman who helped lead it during its early years after leaving a teaching career – are active in a number of area business and civic organizations. These include the Kiwanis Club, the Cumberland County Business Council, the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce, the Fayetteville Home Builders Association of Realtors and the Homebuilders Association of Fayetteville.

“They’ve set an example for the company in being engaged with the community personally and financially,” West adds.

Company staff members are involved in a number of community efforts including fund raising and charity building projects. H&H also recently donated proceeds from one of its homes to a local botanical garden.

The company is also active with the National Association of Home Builders’ “Builder 20” peer groups. H&H Homes’ group, affectionately called the “Dirt Dogs,” recently hosted 20 builders and their spouses for two days that included workshops, speakers and bus tours.

In addition to their community and industry activities, the Huffs are in the process of securing the company’s future through grooming their two daughters and their families to eventually take over the business.

West plays a key role in succession. “They’re working hard to ensure the company continues to serve customers,” he says. “I’m here to help the next generation and keep the company going for the next 20 years.”

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