GRAND RAPIDS — When the nation’s largest homebuilder decided to vacate the West Michigan market by the end of this year, it meant leaving behind dozens of employees and 600 lots across five planned developments.
And that was how Redstone Group acquired Pulte Homes — sort of.
“We were poking around another piece of property and started hearing rumors that they might be pulling out of Grand Rapids,” said Redstone founder and CEO Gary Hensch. “I called them up and told them the rumor I heard.”
As it turned out, Pulte was about to start making calls of its own.
“They were looking for an entity that had some substance that could take the majority of their property,” Hensch said. “They felt that if someone were to take the majority of their property, they might also hire some or all of their people. If you sell off eight properties, each to a different person, they wouldn’t take very many people.”
Pulte had seven projects in development. Redstone acquired the five that were the furthest along; the other two were abandoned.
Redstone tendered offers to roughly half of the Pulte staff left behind in West Michigan. The new employees will join the builder as the need arises. Hensch expects to have all the developments far enough along this summer to absorb those workers.
Also, many on the Pulte staff are remaining with Pulte, as it will continue to build out and market a handful of Grand Rapids developments through the fall.
With the acquisition, Redstone has virtually doubled in size. Its lot inventory has increased from 560 to nearly 1,200. It is projecting to sell 200 homes this year, up from 111 last year.
Putle’s 270-unit Heritage Park development represents another landmark for Redstone. The 7-year-old Redstone had planned to build out six developments this year, but all were condominiums. Heritage Park will be its first foray into single-family homes.
“We are the only builder around of any size that just did condos,” Hensch said. “Not only have we taken over for a national builder, but it’s big from a company standpoint because we’re getting into single-family homes.
“Our reputation in condos is excellent and it allows us to expand on that. We’ll be stronger in the market; we have more diversity.”
How the new work will translate to Redstone’s bottom line this year depends largely on timing. Although most were already approved, the projects were all in different stages of development. Heritage Park broke ground in April, the only one so far to do so.
“If we miss a couple months, we’ll miss a couple sales,” Hensch said.
The influx of lot inventory might last Redstone four to five years, Hensch said, but he expects it will be less.
Redstone Vice President of Construction Operations Bob Dunston spent 15 years with Pulte, most recently as vice president of land development.
“I think the most exciting thing for me about Redstone is that there is a desire within the organization to continuously improve our communities, homes, systems and employees,” he said. “I am convinced that Redstone will continue to provide our customers with the best homes, in the most desirable neighborhoods, while also providing the best value and customer satisfaction in the marketplace.”
Redstone Group’s Current Developments
Acquired From Pulte
Aberdeen Ridge Grand Rapids Township 52 condos
Arlington Park Bryon Township 71 houses
Creekside Village Alpine Township 164 houses
Heritage Park Rockford 270 houses
The Woods of Evergreen Lake Ada 60 condos
East Lake Ada 24 condos
Potter’s Grove Battle Creek 90 condos
Prestwick at Boulder Creek Rockford 44 condos
Redstone Farms Kalamazoo 97 condos
Southbridge Kentwood 81 condos
The Enclave Ada 31 condos