Entrepreneur.com Features Mother-Daughter Epcon Homebuilding Franchise Team
Mother-daughter team develops Indianapolis neighborhoods popular with 55+ buyers with help from the Epcon homebuilding franchise
Sherri Meyer was a real estate broker. Her daughter, Nicole Newkirk, was a marketer in the fashion industry. Today, they are homebuilders getting ready to go vertical with their fifth community, with a sixth community in the works. They made the transition thanks to a mix of smarts, ambition, hard work and expert support from the Epcon home building franchise.
Entrepreneur.com recently took notice of their success, and featured them in the “Franchise Players” column on their website.
Sherri tells Entrepreneur that she became intrigued by Epcon after noticing how quickly the company was selling homes in Columbus, Ohio. As a broker, she kept tabs on real estate trends and recognized that Epcon had tapped into a strong market by appealing to older buyers who wanted a low-maintenance lifestyle. She started working with the company in 1991 and became a Franchise Builder when Epcon began franchising in 1997.
Her daughter joined the business after earning a construction management degree, but even before she had her daughter’s expertise, Sherri had a ton of help from Epcon.
“Being part of a franchise greatly reduced my learning curve,” she told Entrepreneur. “Epcon has been building homes since 1986, and I was able to benefit from the mistakes they had already made and the lessons they learned. Since I didn’t have building experience, I knew that the proven products and processes they have in place would be a great benefit to me.”
Epcon Communities Franchising Inc. is America’s 36th-largest homebuilder (“2013 Builder 100,” Builder Magazine, May 2014) and one of the only home building franchise companies that exists. Epcon and its Franchise Builders develop communities of ranch-style, low-maintenance homes popular with 55+ buyers — a targeted demographic that Metrostudy research projects will drive new home sales in the United States for many years to come.
Here are some excerpts from the article on Entrepreneur.com:
What were you doing before you became a Franchise Builder?
I was working in real estate for the first Re/Max agency that came to Indianapolis. One of the things I enjoyed the most was working with builders. I discovered Epcon while reading BUILDER magazine, which profiled the success Epcon was having in Columbus (Epcon’s headquarters is in Dublin, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus). I drove over from Indianapolis to see the communities for myself and had a great conversation with the owners.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
You know, there is so much involved in building and developing, and it was so interesting to me. Still, every day I learn something. It was a lot more interesting than just selling real estate. I like finding the property and then working with engineers on laying out a community and working with the town officials to get site plans approved, then deciding on specific floor plans and marketing. It’s interesting to dig into all those different aspects.
I enjoy creating a beautiful community and beautiful homes that are energy-efficient. We actually solve many problems for our homeowners. Most of our homeowners are empty nesters, and they are looking for a smaller home, but they want it to be just as nice as the bigger home they are moving out of. They want it to have all the energy efficiencies that are available now in new homes, and the latest and greatest options. They are people who are looking at Houzz every day and watching HGTV. They want a beautiful home, but they want less home. They don’t want to have to take care of the lawn care anymore.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
Realizing how much I didn’t know and learning to manage and work with all men — it’s a very male-dominated field. We’re unusual in that we’re a mother-daughter team. My daughter, Nicole Newkirk, handles all the purchasing and estimating for our communities.
One of the reasons I recommend Epcon is that we get continuous training in every aspect of the business — construction, sales, marketing. We get support in every area. We also can turn to our other Franchise Builders to share ideas and compare experiences and costs, and to learn what is working well and selling well in other parts of the country. That’s very valuable, especially because construction prices can be very variable. By comparing notes with other builders, you don’t have to wonder whether or not you are getting a good deal from subcontractors.
What’s next for you and your business?
We are starting to build a community called Graystone. It consists of 10 lots that we were able to purchase after another developer left the area during the real estate downturn. Our next community will be called Steeplechase, and that will have 40 lots. I expect to have those lots finished and ready for construction by the end of the year. I am also excited by the new detached courtyard homes Epcon has developed. We added those to the Villas at Geist toward the end of developing that community, and they were incredibly popular. That’s what we plan to build moving forward.