Meet Seth, an Epcon Franchise Builder in Beavercreek, Ohio.
Seth’s wife has worked at Epcon for nearly 20 years, so he’s had the opportunity to watch the company evolve over time. It was Epcon’s reputation that attracted him and his business partner to look at becoming Epcon Franchise Builders.
Host: Hi Seth, thanks for being here. My first question for you is, did you come from home building or the construction industry?
Seth Barritt: No, I did not. My background originally started in architecture.
I was educated in architecture and then moved into the commercial real estate development field, and worked in that field for approximately 15 years, and focused on mixed‑use projects, commercial retail, hospitality, office and, most recently, an interest in residential. That’s where we started in looking at the Epcon product.
Host: I want to talk a little bit about your story. Your situation’s a little unique in that your wife is a long‑time employee of Epcon. How did that influence your decision to join as an Epcon Franchise Builder?
Seth: As you mentioned, my wife has been with Epcon for nearly 20 years. I’ve had an opportunity to watch Epcon evolve.
Epcon is a leader in the industry. We wanted to take advantage of how that builder partnership, and all of the tools, and the materials that Epcon provides to build the product. Epcon, they’re a first‑class organization and have been a benchmark in the residential industry. For all of those reasons, that’s what attracted us to look at becoming a partner.
Host: Let’s dive a little bit into your involvement with Epcon Franchising and talk a little bit about how your experience has been thus far. I know you’re getting started with your community. What has your experience been like as an Epcon Franchise Builder?
Seth: It’s been a wonderful experience. We have felt an enormous amount of support. Both my business partner and I have a lot of combined experience in real estate development but have not developed a residential project to date.
As we started this venture, that was important to have a partner like Epcon to be there to support us and help us understand what the future held. We could align our expertise in real estate development with Epcon’s expertise in the home building industry.
Host: How many communities are you in the process of building?
Seth: Currently, we are just getting ready to break ground on our first community. It’ll be a multi‑phase community, approximately 56 acres and 162 homes. Our first phase will probably be 49 homes, initially, that we release for sale. We look forward to doing multiple communities. Initially, you have to start with one.
As we proceed and move into closing that first phase, we will certainly be looking at additional land. We’ve already got some ideas currently that we’ve discussed. As you can imagine, starting a venture, and starting the first community, and launching that, particularly a community of this size, it takes a lot of capital.
Host: Can you talk to me a little bit about what challenges you’ve faced and what the biggest challenge that you face today is?
Seth: The biggest challenge we face today is probably what we don’t know. Building the project team was our initial challenge. We have a great team in place that we know will be successful. Each of our team members are professional in each of their areas and are highly skilled. We know we have a great team now.
The next challenge is the uncontrollables. It’s market volatility. It’s things that everybody’s challenged with. From that perspective, it’s an equal challenge across the market and the industry. We’re going to focus on what we can control. The other impacts will be there.
Host: Your team, you started pretty quickly. You’ve been one of our quickest starters that’s come in over these past couple years. You’re utilizing all the of resources that Epcon provides. What would your advice be to other builders coming in and how they can kick‑start their projects?
Seth: If you’ve had real estate development experience, it will be a little easier. I would do your due diligence. That’s not meant to delay any sort of business agreement from a franchise perspective, it’s to make sure that you’re doing your due diligence while you’re also developing a project. That’s what we tried to do.
At the same time that we were engaging to procure the franchise agreement, we were also in the process of doing site selection at that time. We were also working with investors at that time. We were running about four or five key attributes to help the project perform at the same time.
Our process is not a linear process. It’s not A+B=C. It’s a little bit more orbital and a multi-pronged approach. I wouldn’t say that that was any great foresight. In this market, with things changing so dramatically and quickly, and the time to move your product to market needs to be compressed, you have to operate on multi-schedules and parallel schedules. There’s risk there.
I would also recommend that as you’re incurring that risk, that you have those partnerships in place, whether you’re self‑funded or if you’re building business partnerships from an investment level that allows you to make decisions quickly and with the right capital.
Host: I have one more question for you, what on the horizon are you most looking forward to?
Seth: This is tailored a little bit more toward our mission at Artisan. We believe that if the home buyer is placed front and center, and they have a great experience, and you build that relationship, the rest of it will fall in line. There’s a lot of business metrics behind that.
If you set the right expectation and the right vision for the team and the objective…Our goal is to be a positive impact for the community and for the home buyer.
To hear more about Seth Barritt’s story, watch All in the Epcon Family.