How Columbus Became a Fountainhead for Home Builder Opportunities Nationwide
The Epcon home building franchise has become one of the nation’s largest home builders by developing ranch-style maintenance-free communities — and by embracing entrepreneurs
Driving through central Ohio, it’s hard to miss the abundance of beautiful, perfectly groomed Epcon Communities that dot the Midwest landscape. The communities attract homeowners and entrepreneurs alike — and the latter group is taking Epcon Communities nationwide by embracing something that’s unique in the home building industry: a franchised business model.
Duplicating a successful business model
Epcon is one of the only home building franchise companies in the United States, and it is one of America’s largest homebuilders (Builder Magazine’s 2013 Builder 100 list). Epcon Communities Franchising and its owners build maintenance-free homes in communities that are popular with 55+ buyers — a demographic that is expected to drive U.S. home sales for several decades.
Epcon and its Franchise Builders have sold out dozens of communities in Columbus.
John Wahlen, who was a sales executive before he was a builder, saw what was happening in Columbus and knew that Milwaukee would respond similarly. He now has three successful Epcon Communities in Milwaukee.
“I saw how successful Epcon was in the Columbus area. The plans were just not common, and I knew that Milwaukee had not seen anything like this,” says Wahlen. “It was a chance to build something that was different. It’s simple what they did, but no one thought of it before.”
Massive demand for active adult housing
The U.S. Census Bureau reports that 76 million Baby Boomers were born from 1946 to 1964, and their retirements will continue driving demand for the next 15 years, with Generation X following on their heels. It’s expected that 55-plus buyers will account for 52 percent of new home sales over the next five years, according to research by Metrostudy.
Those buyers want maintenance-free homes, and there is a major shortage of them. Epcon recently partnered with Metrostudy (a division of Hanley Wood) and Builder magazine to analyze the supply and demand for housing, and the results were striking. Metrostudy projects a shortfall of hundreds of thousands of homes for Baby Boomers who are looking to downsize into a condominium-style community.
Epcon has spent nearly 30 years identifying what this underserved demographic wants, and Franchise Builders benefit from decades of R&D, as well as documented processes, vendor relationships and advice that are designed to help home builders — even brand new ones — efficiently build attractive new homes.
Epcon has worked with dozens of Franchise Builders to help them develop Epcon Communities in more than 30 states — and the list continues to grow. We have built more than 28,000 homes so far, and that is a drop in the bucket compared to buyer demand and builder opportunity.