Today we'd like to introduce you to Doug Overstreet.
Doug, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Well, everything began in 1961, when my father, Walter Overstreet began his career as a carpenter/contractor. At that time, he began to compile vital knowledge necessary for success in the trade. After a few years of experience, he established Overstreet Builders, a small home building company. He worked hard to earn a reputation for superior quality custom homes. He was know for being a man of his word, he was reliable and trustworthy. As he continued to make a name for himself, it was evident that no one would outwork him and the company he established.
As I reached an age where I could be out on the job, My father had me start working on site doing odd jobs as a young boy, and eventually I graduated to a carpenter, and soon after was running a carpentry crew and helping oversee some of the operation components of the business. Thankfully I had the opportunity to have a great leader bring me up and he instilled in me honesty, integrity and a hard work ethic that he demonstrated to so many others in his interactions, both personally and professionally.
As the company progressed, we grew to be a fully staffed semi-custom/custom home building company. Today, the business remains family owned led by me and my son Greg. Greg is a Purdue University graduate with a business management degree and is the third generation involved in the family business. I’ve had the opportunity of bringing him in as a boy and providing him with the same opportunity I had with my father in showing him how a business is run while maintaining a commitment to quality and integrity. Through middle school, high school, and college he worked for me during the summers and joined us full time in 2003 upon graduation from college.
We work extremely hard to uphold the same commitment to integrity and superior craftsmanship made by my father and his grandfather over fifty years ago. We remain dedicated to the individual needs of each of his customers and take pride in the exceptional quality of houses our company builds.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
No, things haven’t always been easy for us. One of the biggest turning points in the history of the company took place when my father, Walter Overstreet died suddenly in 1986. This sudden loss of the guy who ran a large part of the company in his head left a host of challenges behind, including a paramount decision on whether it made sense to continue on with the business or not. At that time, he was primarily running the company, so immediately I took on the sole responsibility of running 45 carpenters, supervising the construction of custom homes under contract, and continuing the operations of the company with absolutely no transition planning.
Some of the other difficulties have come from trying to plan for big changes in the market (specifically downturns in the early 80's and mid-2000s) or maybe more appropriately not being able to do so -- while there was some sense that things were headed in a negative direction, no one was able to predict the difficulty that the economy would face at these times. Most recently, in 2007, the challenges that presented themselves were unprecedented and no one could have predicted the extent to which it would hurt our industry nor the length of time it would take for our industry to begin to recover. Financing was cut to all real estate developers, builders, and related industries and land became worth a fraction of what it had been almost overnight, putting a significant burden on small businesses, including ours.
Further difficulties come in the form of trying to manage pricing and costs -- costs are always something as builders we are working hard to control. We deal with certain items that are commodities, so we have little control over what the material prices do that are naturally produced, especially those where prices spike quickly over a short period of time, so we do everything we can to stay in tune with the market and try to buy as good as we possibly can. We also work hard to minimize waste to help keep costs as tight as possible throughout all of our operations, specifically the field where we have thousands of products and hundreds of workers that are on our worksites over the course of a home build.
More recently, Labor shortages have become an increasing concern as we have come out of this recession as many younger people didn't enter the workforce and others left when there was no work. We work hard to keep cycle times as tight as possible, which remain difficult, especially if we have wait as a result of a shortage of qualified tradesman to complete the work.
In most industries, it can be a challenge to make sure we are keeping up with trends in the marketplace and ours is no different-- the housing and decorating trends are constantly changing and evolving, so to keep up with what customers want takes research. We work hard to make sure we keep our homes relevant to what our customers are looking for and keep up with trends, as well as to be sure we can offer people the best products available, including the integration of the best technology into their homes.
Lastly, we work to exceed current building codes (which continue to evolve and change) to ensure our customers are getting the best quality and products available. With all that said though, we also use our best judgement and expertise in evaluating available materials and products so that our customers homes are not used as testing facilities for unproven or untested product. We want to be confident, and therefore offer our customers the confidence in the products we use, not just install the newest untested material because it is the most recent trendy item available.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Overstreet Builders story. Tell us more about the business.
As we have discussed, briefly, we are a single family home builder which specializes in new construction homes Chicago suburbs. We offer homes starting around $300,000 and go up from there to well over one million dollars. The majority of our customers come to us and use one of the floor plans we have available, and then customize it to meet the needs of their family; However, we do also do custom design and builds if something we offer doesn’t meet our customer’s needs, or they would rather do something entirely their own. We also work with customers who have a plan already designed and need someone to do the build for them. We offer a wide variety of opportunities to suit any need someone might have.
We currently have two primary communities we are building in. One location is in Naperville, in the Ashwood Park and Hidden Creek subdivisions. Our product here starts at 500,000 and roughly 3100 square feet. Our second location is on the western edge of Elgin in the Highland Woods community. Our offerings here start at just under 300,000 and go up from there, with house size ranging from 1600 square foot ranches and 2100 square foot two stories to 4000+ square feet on the larger end.
We also do builds on off-site lots, in which case a customer may come to us and we work from searching for the land, acquisition of the site, due diligence, planning and designing of the project, and construction of the home, or they may come with a property purchased and we work with them on designing and building of the home. No matter what, we work to provide them with excellent guidance and confidence throughout the project.
Our customers know us for the care and attention they receive, as well as the high level of scrutiny given to the construction of their new home. We are a family company, with family members who work here, and a family atmosphere that extends to all the staff. We have a full staff who specialize in each of their given areas, and it affords our customers the opportunity to contact us and visit us 7 days a week. We have designated staff who handle sales, operations, and construction to ensure that each area receives specialized and focused attention. Our group care about one another, we take pride in our work and we bring passion to our vocation. For us, this is much more than a job; we take the responsibility of building a family's home very seriously, and the finished product and service we provide speak very clearly to that.
Our team looks to demonstrate integrity in everything we do, and it is common for our customers to express their gratitude for us exceeding expectations. Rather than following a complex set of guidelines, we evaluate decisions based on simple criteria, how would we like to be treated? As a result, the people we build homes for move through our process feeling highly satisfied, and the homes we produce demonstrate the craftsmanship as a finished product. On a regular basis, we get calls from either original owners, or subsequent owners of an Overstreet home who own homes we have built 15 or more years ago raving about the satisfaction and pride they have in their homes, and who reiterate the quality they still find in their homes even years down the road.
By establishing partnerships with the trades we use that go beyond price, we are able to carry the pride and passion beyond our direct employees. In fact, we have a number of subcontractors we have used for more than 20 years. These are the same partners we trust to construct homes for our own families and the same materials we use in our own homes, so customers can rest assured that we are making the best possible decisions with regard to the material we select and the people we employ.
Lastly, we believe in giving back to our community. We are active in local churches and charities, and we feel it important that we use our skills and financial blessings to take care of others through local, national, and international mission work.
Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
There has been a lot of hard work and sweat equity put into this business, from late nights on the jobsite working by spotlight and car headlights to long nights in the office doing bookkeeping, and concerns about how bills and payroll would be met, especially early on in the company's career. We have done any and every part of the labor required to build the homes we sell, all three of the generations grew up in this industry with tools in hands at an early age, as well as many of the members on staff, and have accumulated a vast amount of knowledge and skill by having the opportunity to work on the jobs personally.
Regarding luck, everything certainly hasn't gone smoothly, but at times when things have looked pretty tough, God has blessed us with direction. There have been many sleepless nights, and days riddled with difficult decisions and large concerns, but through all of it we have always been led ultimately in a positive direction. Some of the most difficult times have provided us with some of the biggest blessings by opening doors for opportunities that otherwise may not have been there. Additionally, they have served to grow us both personally and professionally and to experience the fruit that can come from overcoming diversity and challenges.