Andy Stauffer was recently interviewed on KZNT 1460AM’s “It’s Your Business Showcase.” The interview is posted below, and you can hear about how Stauffer & Sons Construction got its start, the building process we use, some of the new projects we’re working on, and more. A special thanks to the host, Jeff Thomas, and show producer, Scott Lynn. Find out more about NewsTalk KZNT 1460AM by checking out their website here: www.newstalk1460.com.
Jeff: It’s your business showcase on NewsTalk 1460 KZNT. I’m your host Jeff Thomas, and it’s Your Business Showcase is your business. Whether you own or manage a business or are a consumer, It’s Your Business Showcase introduces you to local businesses, their owners and the value they bring to our community. Join us for It’s Your Business Showcase.
Welcome to another edition of It’s Your Business Showcase. I’m your host Jeff Thomas. Scott Lynn is producing once again for us this week as we look at family run businesses in the Pikes Peak region. And in our first segment today, we’re going to be talking about construction. Stauffer and Sons Construction is the name of the business, Andy Stauffer is the owner. He is with us today and Andy, thank you for taking time out to join us today on It’s Your Business Showcase.
Andy: Jeff, thanks so much for having me, I appreciate being here.
Jeff: Construction is the name of the game. You are a general contractor, that means home building, remodeling and some light construction and we’ll get into that in detail in terms of what it is you actually make available through Stauffer and Sons, but before we get into what your business is about, and this is the 15th year that Stauffer and Sons has been in existence, when did you decide that home building and getting people comfortable in the most important investment of their lives was going to be your life’s work?
Andy: Well I guess it goes back to, I was raised in Bakersfield, California. It was a booming economy at the time. I graduated high school in 90, and then from there I went to Humboldt State University, figured I’d get as far away in the state from Bakersfield that I could, and I was on the north coast in Redwood country. And the time I went to work for a gentleman that had a number of old Victorian houses that he would gut and fix up and rent out to college students, and I went to work for him at $8 an hour back in 1992, I believe it was. And he just, he allowed met o cut my teeth on all phases of construction and helping him to renovate these beautiful old Victorian homes. And so, at that point, I really, I said, “Hey this is neat. I don’t know if I’ll go into my major,” which I don’t even remember what I majored in, quite frankly, in college, I was so focused on just enjoying the beautiful northwest coast.
Jeff: Well whatever it was, it certainly must have worked out for you because at your website, which we will point out is staufferandsons.com, and Stauffer is spelled S-T-A-U-F-F-E-R, it states that you have everything from the eco-homes to multimillion-dollar custom and virtually everything in between. If it’s a home and someone has an idea, you can, as a complete builder you can offer the design and all the construction and the pieces, parts to make it work.
Andy: Absolutely. Yeah, here in Colorado Springs, it’s kind of an unique environment because there are a few folks, I guess you could say at the top, who weren’t really cutting edge architecture and a lot of square footage and a lot of showcase homes, but the vast majority, I mean, we’re pretty simple folk around here and so I’d say the majority of homes that we’re working on can be very modest homes and we’re a little different than a lot of construction companies in that as a custom home builder, you tend to think that that would be the showcase marquis homes. For us, custom is not so much, it certainly doesn’t mean gold plated, which is one of the myths that we really try to dispel with a lot of folks. And it’s really encouraging to a lot of folks to hear, “Hey, I have a budget that is not on the million dollar level but is maybe starting in the $300,000 range for a home and I can start with a clean white sheet of paper and get a custom home design exactly the way I want? Wow.” That’s really something special for a lot of folks. Yeah, from modest homes right on up to you name it. What would you like?
Jeff: So something that could be considered just above a startup to a move up type of property, you can handle that and you like doing that. You’re not looking, necessarily, for the big multimillion dollar package every single time.
Andy: Absolutely. And you know what? There was a point in time, because you had asked a little while ago what got me, what was the, where did I start thinking, “Hey, I want to put folks into homes.” And I remember when I first started building, I kind of got this notion that production homes or tracked homes were something that I would turn my nose up at and say, “No, that’s not real good architecture. Those aren’t homes that I want to be affiliated with.” It was funny, then I got married and I had kids. And I remember distinctly walking through a good friend’s neighborhood, and it was a production home neighborhood down in Fountain, and these are homes in the $200,000 range and I remember looking at these homes, all ten foot away from each other, very small, modest homes, and taking the whole environment in and seeing husband, wife, walking down the street hand in hand, little kids on hot cycles and community happening. And it was just in an instant that I changed my whole notion of what I wanted to do from building big beautiful marquis homes to no, I want to build homes for folks like me that want to raise a family and be part of the community and associate with their neighbors and so forth. So, I’ve got a real soft spot in my heart for just young folks starting out and just people trying to say, “Hey, how do we get to a really nice home without spending a whole lot of money?” And if they can, god bless them. But most of us are more on modest means as far as what we need.
Jeff: Stauffer and Sons Construction is the name of the business, our guest is Andy Stauffer. Right off of what you just said, that also provides for you a pretty good business technique in the sense that you can have a customer for a considerable period of time if you’re starting them up, moving them up and then as they are able to grow and afford it, getting them into a real custom home that perhaps is in that million dollar range. That’s a pretty good business model.
Andy: Yeah, it’s a neat. I haven’t looked at it that way, Jeff, just because we’ve been in business about 15 years now, so I’m 42 years old, so I would imagine we give it another ten years or so and I’ll be building the next step up home for some of the folks that I originally got into their first home. Who knows?
Jeff: At your website, it isn’t necessarily a brand, but I found intriguing, efficient building model in a fast, cost effective manner. And I’d like to have you explain that, because there’s generally that magic 100 days to four months that it takes to break ground and move in. How does that fit into this efficient building model in a fast, cost effective manner?
Andy: Sure. Well, I think we’ve all heard the term McDonald-ize. You know, to take systems and develop them and processes to where you can take any individual and plug them into a position within a company and the path is already laid out in front of them. There’s a best way to do things. So having started my company as a framing contractor, and had the bags on and being out there in the field and running a crew, so I’d show up on day one and I’ve got four or five guys looking at me saying, “Hey, boss. What do we do?” And I better have a good game plan and not make it up as I go every new house that we frame, so you know, that gave me an opportunity to look and say, “Hey, there’s a best course most effective way to run every job and let’s discard the things that don’t work and let’s really embrace and run with the things that do.” And so as a general contractor, that step to, when I lay things out for my homeowners, I tell them if I’m doing my job right, you’ll look at this path in front of you and rather than be daunted and overwhelmed by the whole process, it should be like we’re sitting at a board game and looking at like a “Candy Land” board game where you can see, “Oh, I see. I start here and here’s the finish line.”
And through that all, I’m going to go through this series of processes and decisions to get just exactly what I want. And lo and behold, I don’t know about 100 days later, but usually about five to six months later on our average build, we turn over the keys. We’re kind of old fashioned in the way that we like to have groundbreakings with the silver shovel and we like to have a key ceremony and put the key in the homeowner’s hand and pop the champagne and celebrate. That whole process is a really fun process.
Jeff: Also, traditional and nontraditional, you have all of those things rolled into your process. And that sounds like an intriguing thing. You will build in a neighborhoods and you will build where no one can find your place.
Andy: Sure, sure.
Jeff: So to speak. I find that interesting. A division of Stauffer and Sons is Colorado Timber Homes. Can you tell us a little bit about that, Andy?
Andy: Sure. You know, I think it was about ten, eleven years ago, as a framing contractor I got my first set of plans from a builder, and it was in High Forest Ranch, and he said, “Hey, here’s our next home.” And it was actually, it was for Chad Hennings who was a . . .
Jeff: Air Force Academy Football.
Andy: Air Force Academy graduate and football player, Dallas Cowboys as well.
Jeff: Outland trophy winner as well.
Andy: Yeah. Just a neat part of our community, just a wonderful guy. And so, we were the framing contractor on that house and we started looking at the timbers, and it was more than the average amount of heavy timber that we would typically see on a house, it was pretty heavily timbered. And we really cut our teeth on that project and did all true mortise and tenon joinery and researched the old world heritage of this wonderful methodology of construction, and say, “Hey, you know, let’s look at where we live. We’re here in Colorado Springs, we’re looking at Pike’s Peak. People move from Texas and Virginia and Florida and California specifically for this Colorado mountain experience, and yet so many of our homes are just big stucco boxes.” And over time, we developed that more and more. I became affiliated with Riverbend Timber Framing, which is out of Michigan, one of the largest timber frame fabricators in the country. Sold a lot of their product and decided, “Hey, let’s start Colorado Timber Homes as kind of a sister company to Stauffer and Sons.” So kind of one in the same with Stauffer and Sons Construction, and we get a lot of satisfaction out of it.
Jeff: Andy, how does somebody get started with the Stauffer and Sons when they have an idea or if they’re just plain looking. Can you advise them as to what would be best for them?
Andy: Sure. This is almost a whole radio spot in and of itself, is that path. There’s a number of different ways that as you choose to contract with a builder. Probably the path divides into two predominant ways. One would be where you start with an architect, start with a design, hand that design to two or three different builders and have them competitively bid that house. And that lets market forces have their effect and you get a good competitive bid from that. That being said, probably 95% of everybody we build for we do in what’s called a design build process. And so this is where folks by one way or another, by coming to us, from a realtor, from our website, from referrals in the community, from radio shows like this, you name it, come to us and say, “Hey, I think I want to build a home. Not sure what that looks like. Where do we start?”
So we get them in our office, we have an office in the downtown area, in the south end of the old Giuseppe’s Depot building, and usually if I get about two hours, get them in the chair and I can demystify the whole process ahead. The first step is to really identify, generally, what are you trying to spend? What’s your budget, and let’s be very candid and dispassionate when we talk money. Let’s not attach a lot of romance and well maybe this and how about that. It’s like, “Hey, what would you like to spend?” About what size home are you looking for and what level of finishes? And our job is to walk them through, to identify are we in the right universe and can this be done? So we get there pretty quickly and then we take them down a design build path where we’re, and this is one of the unique things about our company is that we’re totally transparent through every step of the design and budgeting process. And so what that means is when we’re figuring out what things cost, my computer screen is turned towards them and we’re looking at the entire spreadsheet together.
So what every subcontractor and vendor and product costs, what I have in it for supervision, for contingency, for profit and overhead, and they can ask me anything. And that’s really disarming for a lot of folks to not feel like that used car experience where they’re like, “What’s this guy going to be making on this job?” People just want to know where their money is going is what I found.
Jeff: Sounds like a start to finish, detail to detail process.
Jeff: Alright. The business is Stauffer & Sons Construction. The phone number is 239-3310. staufferandsons.com, spelled S-T-A-U-F-F-E-R. Andy Stauffer is the owner, and Andy, thanks for taking time out to join us today on It’s Your Business Showcase.
Andy: I’m so happy to be here. Thanks for having me, Jeff.