Meet Andy, Owner of Nova Triad Homes, an Epcon Franchise Builder in North Carolina. His experience in transitioning from corporate America to developing land and building homes was not easy, but feels that Epcon did the heavy lifting allowing him to do both.
Megan Ronquillo: Hi, Andy. Great to see you, as always. Let’s just go ahead and dive right on in. My first question for you is to just give a brief history of your career and your business.
Andy Dreyfuss: My background is from Corporate America, primarily in planning and finance at large corporations, spent some time at Apple and the Coca‑Cola Company. I left Corporate America, and I wanted to do something on my own. I spent a little bit of time in academia and then decided I wanted to be a real estate developer and home builder. That’s generally my background.
Megan: Andy, I’d like to piggyback off of that question. You talked a little bit about your work history, and it’s pretty impressive. Can you give a little more detail about leaving Corporate America and pursuing this opportunity?
Andy: First of all, there’s a lot of benefits in Corporate America. You learn a lot. You’re around a lot of smart folks, but there is some bureaucracy associated with Corporate America. I wanted to do my own thing. I wanted to get into a career that took advantages of my strengths.
I knew real estate and development and home building would take advantage of them, so it was just a matter of being in the right place at the right time.
Megan: Great. Can you talk a little bit about how you got involved with Epcon franchising? How did you find us, and how did that journey begin?
Andy: I was fortunate. I was a developer first, and we watched a Epcon Builder in our part of North Carolina do really well, coming out of the recession in 2008. We decided to develop a neighborhood for them in Clemmons, North Carolina.
One thing led to another. We wound up becoming the builder as well. We liked the model. It was a good time to add home building to the development side of what we were doing. I was fortunate. I basically took over an existing Epcon Franchise that was doing fairly well.
Megan: That’s awesome, Andy. What has your experience been like with Epcon franchising thus far, both as a company and also in building the specific models that we have?
Andy: The experience has been positive. There’s a lot to developing land and building homes. It’s a pretty complicated set of processes. Epcon has done the heavy lifting with regards to understanding the consumer.
I really only want to build homes for retirees, baby boomers. Epcon’s done great work on what’s the product, what does it need to look like, the building plans, all the marketing, and all the insights. All we have to worry about is developing the land, building homes.
These are not easy chores, but working with Epcon has been great. They understand these markets. They’re able to do research and put plans together that I could not do myself.
Megan: Andy, you mentioned some of the challenges that you’re facing in the home building industry. What would you say is your greatest challenge? How has Epcon helped you to overcome that challenge?
Andy: Developing land is not easy, and Epcon has expertise there. We’ve called on folks in Columbus to help us. As I said earlier, I think building plans, designing new plans, we’ve done a little bit of that. It’s tricky. It’s a lot harder than one would think.
Epcon has done that for you. The website that Epcon has developed is great. We get very good leads, qualified convert to contracts. These are things that would have taken us years and years. I’m not sure we would’ve done it correctly.
Megan: Thank you for that, Andy. Where do you go for business advice or business opportunities or just ways to improve your business? Who do you turn to?
Andy: I have a couple avenues on how to improve business. I collaborate with some builders that aren’t competitors in our geography. For sure, we talk about what’s happening in terms of development and building.
When you’re an Epcon franchisee, you’re a member of a unique group of folks that are building the same product around the country. I talk often with franchisees around the country that are doing the same thing. We get great insights from them, so I have two sources.
Megan: That is good to hear. Andy, would you recommend Epcon franchising to others?
Andy: I would. Developing, as I said earlier, you’re really getting into two businesses at once, developing land and building homes. That is not easy. Epcon has done some heavy lifting for you to enable you to do both, so I would recommend becoming an Epcon franchisee.
Megan: Andy, as you know, we have a lot of new builders that are coming in. What advice would you give to a brand new Epcon Franchise Builder, kind of taking from your own experience, and how you’ve been able to grow and scale so quickly with Epcon?
Andy: I would start small. This is a hard business. It’s a cyclical business. It can be very profitable. That said, you need to be thoughtful, start small, listen to those around you, and you will be successful over time.
Megan: That’s great advice, Andy. Can we talk a little bit about the support that you get from Epcon? This can be anything from business development, operations, all the way through marketing and the materials that you receive?
Andy: We get a lot. I’ll be canny with you. I think most builders focus on developing their subdivisions and building homes. I don’t think that many are great at marketing, and we’re one of them. It’s an area of opportunity.
When you’re an Epcon franchisee, you get a website that’s been thoroughly vetted and invested in. You get great collateral. You get a lot of help on social media, video, photography, all the way down to mailers and signs for your construction site.
They’ve thought through everything. It’s fairly turnkey. This is a huge benefit to us, and I think, to most builders.
Megan: That is great to hear. Can you speak a little bit to the research that Epcon has invested into the 55‑plus market, into understanding that market? How that translates into the home designs that we produce and ultimately getting those homes to the correct buyer in the correct market?
Andy: First of all, as I said, I’m not a marketing expert, but thankfully, Epcon is. Epcon has done a lot of direct primary consumer insight research. This is critical because every generation changes. A cohort is 20 years. Folks that were born in 1940 are going to have wanted something that’s different than folks born in 1960 per se.
Epcon goes out and procures direct consumer insight research, which then leads to a product plan that’s designed for this next cohort. It’s everything from the light coming into the unit, the spacing, where everyone’s downsizing from a larger home, where are they going to stick their possessions.
You have a very carefully crafted and designed home for the baby boomer versus taking another plan and trying to retrofit it for a 65‑year‑old buyer. It’s easy to see that there’s 10,000 people retiring every day that are 65 and try to take your product and shoehorn it for them versus the Epcon approach of let’s design the product upfront with the consumer insights for this cohort as it moves through to retirement.