In 2013, Will Herring founded Hunter Quinn Homes to serve as a builder of choice for the Charleston, South Carolina-area housing market, on a mission to enrich the lives of his company’s team, customers, partners, and community.
“I’ve worked in a number of places, one of them being a large, Fortune 50, public home builder, and also some really great family companies. I had a desire to build a place that had the culture and the feel of that family shop, but also had the process and organization that a much larger establishment would typically have. At the family business, we were missing the process and that piece that was so necessary, and at the corporation, we were missing the fun. It was an effort to create an environment that could combine what was good about both those places,” he describes.
The young, fun, and hard-working company of 25 employees abides by four core principles: being focused but nimble, being communicators and collaborators, never being satisfied, and lastly – no suits.
“In striving to be the builder of choice, we believe that if our people internally and our trade partners are both treated right that the third piece handles itself. Part of being nimble is that we make key decisions quickly. We make them around a small table. We don’t have layers of bureaucracy. There’s an open door policy, and we help each other succeed. It’s a collaborative environment, and we try not to focus on what our problems are, but rather finding the solutions,” Herring explains.
He adds that the company’s memorable final pillar comes from his founding desire to keep balance and avoid being too corporate. “We’re humble but confident. We lead by example with our actions rather than our words, always striving to do the right thing and being respectful in doing so.”
The five-year-old building company closed on its first house in 2014; this year, Hunter Quinn Homes will close its 400th. For four consecutive years, Herring’s company has been on the Inc. 5000 list of the country’s fastest growing companies. He attributes this success to maintaining the company’s core values and the quality of the product. A Hunter Quinn home is one that exudes Charleston charm, is energy efficient, and is competitively priced, starting in the mid $100,000s.
Hunter Quinn Homes has just completed a unique and exciting new project alongside the beautiful Noisette Creek in North Charleston. Now move-in ready, Creekside at Horizon Village was originally a project started by another developer in the early 2000s but abandoned during the recession. Staying true to its goal of enriching the community, Hunter Quinn Homes picked up 99 lots in the area and built a variety of townhomes and a few single-family cottages.
Each Creekside home is equipped with GE stainless steel appliances and granite countertops in both the kitchens and all full bathrooms. To top it all off, the neighborhood is in close proximity to entertainment, Riverfront Park, local employment, and is just 10 minutes from downtown Charleston.
Creekside at Horizon Village features two main home plans: The Wescott: 1,377 square feet, 2–3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths (there are six variations of this home plan); and The Collins: 1,525 square feet, 2–3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths.
“We are meeting a price point that the neighborhood doesn’t currently have, with really neat product in a really neat place,” remarks Herring.
In whichever community it serves, Hunter Quinn Homes focuses on packing as much value as possible into the square footage of its plans. Granite countertops and stainless steel appliances are always considered staples.
“Our homes are thoughtfully designed for the particular customer demographic in the neighborhood that we are serving. We build everything from townhomes that are priced below the $200,000s to single-family, detached products that are probably north of half a million. With each of those product lines, we’re spending money in the areas that the customer is really concerned about,” says Herring.
It’s an endeavor that requires a lot of market research and understanding of the customer. Generally, Hunter Quinn Homes serves first-time, “move-up” buyers who are starting their young families and need a high-quality, safe home in which to raise them.
“We feel like we know that buyer well. They are looking for where the schools are going to be; they’re looking for the square footage to raise a family in. We also make sure we hit all the energy efficiency items. We want to make the house well insulated and inexpensive to live in,” says Herring.
Each of the company’s homes is given an independent rating that calculates its energy performance on the nationally recognized HERS index (Home Energy Rating System) by the non-profit Residential Energy Services Network, or RESNET. An “average” new home is given a rank of 100, and the lower the number, the better. Hunter Quinn homes’ HERS ratings are typically in the 60s and 70s, much lower than a house simply built to code. Such a home is approximately 30 to 40 percent more energy-efficient than the RESNET Reference Home.
At the moment, Hunter Quinn Homes is building in eight locations, and is the largest non-multi-market builder in the Charleston area. Looking to the future, the company has plans to expand into other markets and sub-markets in the Carolinas in order to continue to scale. Hunter Quinn Homes is a flexible and customer-oriented business, so it focuses on what the homebuyer is looking for.
“We are quite nimble, and as we go into a new neighborhood, if we determine that what the customer needs is not something that is in our product line, we will typically create a new home design for that neighborhood. We build townhomes, single-family detached homes, and some higher-end townhomes; it all depends on the project and what suits that buyer. We would absolutely create a new product for the market. We are not going to put something out just because we have it on the shelf,” Herring comments.
As Hunter Quinn Homes reaches its next echelon, this local homebuilder will continue to keep the small-business, start-up charm that it started with five years ago. The management enjoys keeping the workplace lively by holding events for employees as well as for customers. Another unique way that Hunter Quinn Homes says “thank you” to its contractors in the field is by going out to provide them a hearty barbeque on the job site at least once a month. “We bring the food to them as thanks for all the hard work that they do for us on a daily basis,” says Herring.
Another significant piece of the puzzle for a growing team is to keep on attracting the team members who understand and appreciate what Hunter Quinn Homes stands for. “Culture is so important to us, and if we bring in the wrong person, it could be detrimental. We hire very slowly; we make sure somebody is the right fit, and we run them through a series of interviews with different people in the company – not necessarily just the department head that is hiring them – and HR,” Herring shares.
Moreover, the company ensures that candidates have visited Hunter Quinn Homes’ job sites and encourages them to ask workers any questions. “We don’t want to sugar-coat anything. We want them to know exactly what they are getting themselves into,” says Herring.
Then, Hunter Quinn Homes also uses a series of DISC personality testing to see where the new employee may fit in the mix with the other people with whom they are going to be interacting.
“We have a good understanding of which personality profiles are best for which job roles. We put a lot of attention into whom we bring on the team, understanding that our culture is everything and we want it to be protected,” concludes Herring.
Seeking constant improvement and fostering a positive work environment of team-focused individuals, Hunter Quinn Homes will continue to enrich the Charleston real estate market with quality new homes for years to come.