If you were to drive along the corridor where Cherokee County borders Cobb and Fulton Counties, you would see that The Great Recession is on its way out, and that new home construction is back. On that same drive, you would see signs for Windsong Properties — advertising many of their new active adult communities. Windsong Properties recently celebrated its 10th anniversary, and is one of Metro Atlanta’s leading active adult Homebuilders. Herbert Construction has had the pleasure of working with Windsong for several years. We recently met with the two Co-Owners, Steve Romeyn and Mark Carruth, and Windsong’s Purchasing Manager, Jeff Shaw, to discuss what makes their niche so special. While the Baby Boomer generation moves into the active adult category, many homebuilders see opportunities. However, once involved in that arena, they soon realize that it is very different from first-time or move-up house construction. As Baby Boomers themselves, Steve and Mark prefer to think that their customers are seeking a specific lifestyle, and are certainly not included in the stereotypical term “Senior Living." Windsong homeowners live in communities that offer low maintenance homes in great locations with exceptional amenities. Best of all, their neighbors are on the same path in life. “We really just have two different types of buyers," explains Steve. “The first buyer already lives within five miles of the new subdivision in which they want to purchase their new home. They’re ready to downsize and want a home that requires less maintenance. But, they want to go to the same Church and keep their existing friends. They don’t necessarily want to be snowbirds, but are at the point in their life where they can say ‘It’s time for me.' “The second type of buyer," Steve explained, “is moving to Georgia from farther away because they want to be closer to their Grandchildren. In this case, Grandma is definitely driving the home buying decision." Mark described the reason for the homeowners’ move, “Our buyers typically begin thinking about an active adult community as a result of two different life events. There is a catalyst that makes them ready to buy. The first is the Health Event." Mark describes this as the homeowner waking up one day and realizing they may not want to live in or maintain a two-story house. “The second event," Mark said, “is the Family Event where they are now retired and want to live closer to family, and particularly their grandchildren." How It All Began Mark and Steve have each been building homes for more than 30 years. Mark Carruth is a 3rd generation homebuilder who originally had aspirations of becoming a physician. It was while in college working toward his degree that he realized that he needed to pursue his first love, designing and building homes. Steve Romeyn has a History of Architecture degree from Harvard University, and started his building career in North Georgia, at Big Canoe. The two met, not as builders, but as Dads. Both had daughters who studied ballet as small children, and as any parent who has children that participate in activities can attest, there was a lot of time to talk while waiting. Over the years, they shared business philosophies, strategies, and stories. A mutual respect and friendship developed. Ten years ago, after a trip to Hilton Head together, Steve and Mark co-founded Windsong Properties. During those ten years, they have built 360 homes. They sold 29 homes in 2012, then almost doubled that number in 2013, selling 53 homes. When asked about 2014, Steve said, “We are cautiously optimistic. People are able to begin buying new homes again because of the improved resale market. This has had a huge, positive affect on the new home market" Homeowner Preferences Many of Windsong’s customers have had new homes built for themselves throughout other stages of their lives. They are now ready to downsize and they approach this as though they are building their last home. They bring with them their experiences and preferences from previous homes. And, they are particular about what they want — and don’t want — in their new home. We asked Steve, Mark and Jeff what some of those items are that they want. Some of the broad desires include the Master Suite on the Main floor, and upgraded plumbing and electrical fixtures. Other, more specific, items include step-free entry into the house from the garage and front door, and wider interior doorways to allow for possible wheelchair movement. Also, lever handled locksets on doors to enable easier access for arthritis sufferers. Windsong installs rounded drywall corners on every home, which reduces accidental bruises that traditional square corners can cause. The exterior of Windsong’s homes require less maintenance. Their homes feature no wood on exposed areas, fiber cement siding, vinyl windows, and Sherwin Williams Super paint. Yard maintenance is provided with the association fee and most communities offer clubhouses. We asked Mark what he believes makes Windsong unique. “We are focused on our buyers and their wants and needs. The sales cycle can take years, so we are very relationship driven. This is not just a transaction." Mark said, “I attend every pre-construction meeting to meet the homeowners. I want to get the pulse of the buyer and find out exactly what they are looking for." That relationship continues throughout the building process. Homeowners get to know their on-site builder very well, and Steve attends every closing. “Our purpose and mission at Windsong is to improve the quality of life of active adults," said Steve. That dedication to their customers carries over to their employees as well. “Our #1 goal is employee satisfaction," said Steve. “We believe in four basic principles: 1. Honesty and Integrity, 2. Respectful relationships, 3. Teamwork, and 4. Continuous improvement." Jeff Shaw, Windsong’s Purchasing Manager, and a 22 year homebuilding veteran, said, “When you have all those things working for you, you will have the best product." Mark said, “This is our culture; it is how we treat people." Trades Play Important Role That culture allows Windsong to attract great Trades to build their houses. Jeff explains, “The other important component in being able to offer a great product to our customers is the relationship we have with our Trade Partners." When asked about his basement contractor, Jeff said, “Herbert Construction stays off my radar. When our field guys are happy with quality and performance, then I’m not getting calls to fix vendor issues, that’s a good thing!" Steve was more specific, saying, “You guys are the best foundation company out there. I would absolutely recommend you to anyone." When we asked Mark about our company, he said, “When I think of Herbert Construction Company, the first thing that comes to mind is professionalism. I am consistently impressed at how you approach this as a business, and not just another job." He added, “There are only a handful of other companies out there that have your level of professionalism." We at Herbert Construction Company feel the same way about Windsong Properties. It is a pleasure to be their foundation contractor. We share their optimism for a prosperous 2014. This article originally appeared in Herbert Construction Co.’s newsletter, Building Insights. Herbert Construction Co. is a four-time national award winning, family-run concrete foundation company based in Marietta, GA. They solve basement foundation problems by combining the latest technology with good old-fashioned hard work. Herbert Construction Co. builds concrete structures for residential & commercial projects throughout the South and Southeast. For more information, call 770-795-0103, or visit www.HerbertConstruction.com.