As published in Builders Magazine
by: Stacy Tetloff
Elite Quality Homes
Brenda Love puts her knowledge and experience to use to build homes she can be proud of.
Brenda Love started a career in architecture and engineering, joining a firm in 1971. In 1987, Love founded her own architectural firm in Fort Smith, Arkansas. The firm's clients included three corporate companies, with projects all over the United States, including one out of Atlanta.
When Love decided she didn't want to continue to travel, she started a design build company, moving the operation to Oklahoma City in 1999. For the first three years, Love and her business partner built mostly entry level housing, transitioning over to Elite Quality Homes in 2001.
Know the Industry
A background in architecture and engineering gave Love the insight she needed into building codes and understanding framing to create a successful homebuilding business. In addition to that extensive knowledge, Love is a Certified Builder with the Oklahoma State Home Builders Association, and is a Certified Green Professional. Love stays on top of industry education by maintaining the educational requirements required each year to keep those certifications.
Love's knowledge and experience help her handle the business end of the company, including all of the finances. She is also on hand to work directly with the customers to create the plans for the home and make the design decisions. The company also benefits from the knowledge and expertise of Victor Squicimari and Bill Stewart. Squicimari is the vice president of the business, handling all of the sales of the company as well as advertising and promotions. Stewart is the construction manager, managing all of the construction in the field.
Have a Little Faith
Today, Elite Quality Homes continues to build homes that are primarily in the 1,800 sq. ft. to 4,000 sq. ft. range, although with the current economy the company has built as small as 1,100 sq. ft. Love explained, "It just depends what is out there. With the different economy, all builders have had to change their business, including adding in remodeling."
It also includes where the company builds. Elite Quality Homes typically builds on south side of Oklahoma City, but has built in northeast Oklahoma City and in Norman, as well as to the west, in the past 12 months. "We've expanded our horizons because of the economy. When customers ask us to build outside of our usual area, we do," Love said.
The recent economic downturn has definitely presented the home building industry with challenges. According to Love, however, things are better in Oklahoma for builders.
As of January 2011, the unemployment rate in Oklahoma City was reported at 6.3 percent, lower than the 9 percent national average or the 6.6 percent Oklahoma state average. The challenge is to help potential homebuyers, especially first-time buyers, to overcome their fears and anxiety over the negative outlook on the economy. Part of that confidence should come from the interest rate, explained Love. "There's no better time to buy a house than right now. It's amazing what kind of home you can buy with today's low interest rates. People have to have faith that it's safe to buy a house, in spite of what we hear on the news," she said.
Negative press has affected buyer confidence, but Love noted that the activity in home buying has started to turn around. "We've seen a lot more activity this year, and a lot of people are ready to buy and need to buy," she said.
Be Proud of What You Do
Love's company places the highest priority on building quality homes from the best materials. The goal is to create a home that is as maintenance-free as possible and to make homeowners happy. Of the company's customers in 2010, 65 percent were repeat customers, or the friends or family members of a previous customer. "That's what we've worked for," Love explained. "We don't depend totally on advertisements. We get referrals by always doing a good job on our homes and placing emphasis on customer service. It's important to walk away from a home that we've built and be proud of it."
Whether building a home for a baby boomer looking to retire or a first-time home buyer in their early twenties, Love gets enjoyment out of seeing the excitement when the homes are completed, and seeing the anticipation of the homeowners to live in a new, healthy and safe home.
"When I was younger, I thought you had a job and worked for money. But, as you get older, real enjoyment comes from having a career and enjoying it. I enjoy driving buy and saying, I did that.' I'm able to do that every time I drive by a home we've built," Love explained.
Don't Forget the Necessities
Love is current president of the Southwest Home Builders Association and serves on the state board of directors for the Oklahoma State Builders Association.
Membership and involvement in the builders associations is an absolute necessity as far as Love is concerned. "It's your responsibility to be involved," she said. The homebuilders associations provide support and supervision of the building industry, educating the public, government and builders. "In the HBAs, we have widely supported the Certified Builder program, which brings credibility and responsibility to every builder and to the industry as a whole," Love explained. In addition, the homebuilders associations are instrumental in giving back to the community, something Love also strongly believes in.
"The Moore Home Builders Association refills backpacks with food for children who would not otherwise eat over the weekend," she said. The Southwest HBA supports and gives $5,000 every year to the Red Cross. The list goes on, but Love cannot stress the importance of the homebuilders associations enough.
In addition to education and community involvement, the influence of the associations in the political realm of building is also a necessity. "I believe in the Build PAC program," Love said. "Build PAC supervises the laws that are being passed, supporting candidates that support the building industry." As Love explained, Build PAC keeps an eye on the issues that will affect everyone, from builders to homeowners."
To view some of Elite's products, visit www.elitequalityhomes.com, or contact Brenda at firstname.lastname@example.org.