Hunter Quinn Homes
Will Herring is no stranger to swinging a hammer. But drawn to details like his father, who was a civil engineer, he admittedly became more of an operations “process junkie” when it came to pursuing a career in construction and planning.
Those interests, coupled with his business background, led him to launch Hunter Quinn Homes—a firm incorporating the names of his two daughters—in 2010.
The now mid-sized production builder is creating eight communities throughout the greater Charleston, South Carolina, area. With a construction process Herring describes as “nimble,” the Hunter Quinn team is known for adapting to customer requests and providing modifications to its line of Southern-style homes inspired by the historic area.
“We do what the big guys can’t and pivot quickly,” Herring says.
That, along with some “down home charm” gives the business a leg up on the competition.
Standing Out in The Market
No longer the sleepy Southern seaside tourist community it was 20 years ago, Charleston is a working port with booming economic growth, Herring says. It was voted the top place to live in the country by Travel + Leisure in 2019 and appeared in TripAdvisor’s Top 10 in 2018. Now supporting a population of about 700,000, a growing number of residents is looking for a place to call home.
To meet the demand, Herring is building a series of homes in multiple price ranges to accommodate everybody—from the working class to retirees—with prices ranging from the high $100,000s to upwards of $300,000.
“A good product mix is necessary in the saturated Charleston market,” Herring says.
Take as an example The Paddock at Fairmont South. Evoking a farmhouse feel in an otherwise typical coastal architecture market, the community’s 98 homes have stained grade exterior accents, weathered bronze light fixtures and rustic facades. All homes include good neighbor fencing and high-end trim packages with a unique coastal farmhouse style.
Herring says the panelized construction of the walls makes construction tighter and speeds up installation. Adding insulated spray foam in the roof decking increases the value of the customer’s home, an important feature that his competitors cannot offer at the same price point. The moderately-priced homes at The Paddock also feature triple-pane glass windows, granite countertops and stainless steel appliances.
“We’re competing with national players and we’re always working to stay a step ahead of them,” he says. “We’re not volume based. It’s all about customer experience and satisfaction.”
With 35 single-family homes completed since the spring grand opening of The Paddock, the remaining 63 lots are currently being developed. These home sites will be sold at the rate of up to four a month until they are gone in Phase 2 on the 100-acre location. Looking ahead, Herring says construction will begin for another townhome phase starting in 2020, offering 55 homes, priced in the low $200,000s range.
The Paddock is one of eight active communities under development. Among the other developments is Creekside at Horizon Village in North Charleston, a housing authority project Hunter Quinn bought two years ago and redeveloped. Also in North Charleston, Tributary at the Park at Rivers Edge, offers a collection of luxury townhomes, located along the banks of the historic Ashley River. Marshfield Plantation is the most high-end offering with prices in the low $400,000s.
Other area projects include Alston Place, Downtown Summerville, Limehouse Village, Lincolnville Square and Pine Hill Acres. With names like Coosaw Creek, Kiawah and Edisto, along with home collection names like the “Low Country Series,” Hunter Quinn’s nomenclature plays off of the town’s historic geography and heritage.
Focused, but nimble
Growing up in North Carolina, where his father worked as a civil engineer, Herring followed in his father’s footsteps to a degree, but primarily focused his education on business.
Attending school in historic Charleston, he fell in love with the area and earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from the College of Charleston. He bolstered that experience with a degree in construction management form Trident Technical College and earned an MBA from The Citadel.
Establishing Hunter Quinn Homes, he says, has been deeply rewarding.
“Easily, the credit goes to the people I work with. I could not have accomplished anything without them,” Herring says, noting this year Hunter Quinn completed 150 homes in a competitive market. “It is so much fun to see it how our business has evolved.”
With home design down, Herring says his greatest challenge is securing the best talent in an environment where the skilled labor force is in high demand.
“I set it as my task to find the right people with the right mix of skills and chemistry to build Hunter Quinn’s brand and homes. That means treating our personnel and trade partners as our most important customers,” he says. “People know who we are now and are coming to us looking for employment.”
Herring relishes the balance his organization has found between the professional standards he gleaned from high-production operations in the past and a comfortable company culture where everyone has a voice and the door is always open.
“I think it is the combination of those two things that have made us so successful,” Herring explains. “Part of our culture is that we are never satisfied. We are always looking for ways to improve by listening to what our customers tell us.”
Herring takes that message to heart and values the perspective of his employees.
“For our team, coming in to work every day is like coming home—and that’s exactly the type of culture we want,” Herring says.
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