Hartz Construction

Hartz ConstructionListening and responding to its clients' requests help Hartz Construction continue to fill a market niche.

By Jim Harris

Prospective buyers of a Hartz home don't have to worry if the model they're interested in isn't presently available in a neighborhood they wish to move to. “We can build almost any of our home models in any of our subdivisions,” Director of Sales and Marketing Mark Hagen says. “People can visit model homes in one subdivision, then drive around our other subdivisions knowing they can put the home they want in the neighborhood they want.”

The company’s flexibility extends to the floor plans of the homes themselves. Hartz Construction considers itself a semi-custom builder as well as a residential developer. “We sit down with our clients and they can make changes to our floor plans based on their personal preference,” he adds. “We are not a one-size-fits-all builder – we know that people have different ideas of how they want to utilize the space in their home, and that's one reason they look to new construction.”

Giving its clients options has helped the company attract a diverse range of buyers, from young professionals and families to older customers looking to downsize their homes. Hartz Construction offers homes for sale in 15 neighborhoods in the Chicago area. “We have a somewhat unique niche. In our industry, there are national builders who buy and develop neighborhoods all across the country on one end, and smaller independent builders who buy individual lots and build homes on those on the other end,” Hagen says. “We're in the middle – bigger than the small independent builders, but smaller than the national builders – which puts us in a unique position where we can capitalize on scale while still being more flexible and adaptable to the needs of the local market.”hartz homes box

The company was founded in 1963 by Don Hartz, a former U.S. Air Force pilot who recognized the need for new homes to accommodate the baby boom generation. In response, he purchased several parcels of land on Chicago's south side. During its more than 50-year history, the company has developed and built more than 15,000 homes in more than 100 neighborhoods. The company remains owned by the Hartz family; Don and his wife, Linda, help manage and oversee it.

Hartz Construction’s houses typically range in price from the low $200,000s to the $400,000s. However, the company also does completely custom homes and tear-downs for more than $1 million. Hartz serves as the general contractor on its homes, and works with a select group of subcontractors with whom it has long-term relationships.

Model Appeal

The insight gained by Hartz Construction on the types of features and floor plans its customers want in their home is informing the design of its latest neighborhood. Sales opened in March on Leigh Creek, a subdivision in New Lenox, Ill.

Hartz Construction’s Vice President/Director of Construction Mike Presbitero developed three new home models for the neighborhood which can be built not only in Leigh Creek, but other Hartz Homes neighborhoods as well. “He reviewed many of our floor plans and talked to many of our buyers to develop plans that will appeal to today's buyer,” Hagen says.

One of the new models, the Hunter, is already proving popular. The two-story, four bedroom, two-and-a-half bathroom with basement home features a spacious entry and hallway leading to an open floorplan with a greatroom and open staircase. The home has a large kitchen with a walk-in pantry, located near a computer station that can be used as a homework area for children or a planning nook for parents. The model also includes a flex room on its first floor and a second-story loft that can each be adapted to different space needs. A spacious mudroom by the backdoor is a popular feature. Four Hunter homes are now under contract, and two have been completed in other Hartz neighborhoods.

The company also kept flexibility in mind with its other two new models: the Daybreak, a three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bathroom home with mudroom and basement, and the Edgebrook, a two-bedroom, two-bathroom ranch home, also with a mudroom and basement. Both models feature open floorplans as well as spaces such as lofts and studies that can be converted into additional bedrooms.

All of Hartz's homes, old and new, are designed to have the most innovative and sought-after features that can be customized by request. “We try to keep the offerings in our design center up to date,” Hagen says. “People today come to us with very specific ideas of what they want; the better we are able to match those ideas, the better off we will all be.”

‘Keeping People Happy’

Hartz Construction also keeps up with the latest design and style trends through its participation with industry associations including the Southwest Suburban Home Builders Association (Chicago) and the National Association of Home Builders.  The company also maintains close ties with its community, including serving as members of the New Lenox and other chambers of commerce.

The company also supports several Park Districts and other community organizations. Hartz Construction’s dedication to its community and homeowners extended to allowing one homeowner – a former heavy equipment operator who was forced to retire early for medical reasons – to operate an excavator during groundbreaking on his home.

Hartz Construction’s flexibility in its designs and its close relationships with homeowners has given it a positive reputation. “Referral business is very important to us,” Hagen says. “We want to make sure we're giving homebuyers a positive experience, because that's how we'll continue to grow. We want to keep people happy, because happy customers are our best advertising.”

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