Original Article: http://luxuryhomequarterly.com/stonewood-llc/
Full Print Article: http://www.126.96.36.199/files/LHQ_Winter_2012.pdf
by Rodric J. Hurdle-Bradford
As Stonewood continues its fourth-generation legacy as a premier builder in the Minneapolis market, owner Sven Gustafson has shown why he is a leading custom builder in the city by adding new talented employees to his team.
“We believe we have the best team in the area,” he says. “They are fantastic and our talent level is at an all-time high.” Stonewood’s recent personnel additions include a new purchasing manager who had been a homebuilder and is adept at design and construction. In June a staff architect joined and instantly increased the firm’s efficiency in its design processes and protocol.
“We have made major enhancements in the implementation of technology in our design process,” says Gustafson. “The extended use of advanced three-dimensional technology has enhanced our creative abilities.” Joining the recent personnel additions is a new project manager that has previously worked in Europe on high-end projects as well as the Colorado and Montana markets.
“We are always looking for people to expand our capabilities and bring in new processes,” says Gustafson. “They bring fresh eyes to what we are as well as personality and experience, those are things you cannot teach. We are not arrogant enough to think we cannot make improvements; we have a real team approach to what we are doing.” In recent years Stonewood’s marketing strategy has increased demand and sales by making proactive efforts to communicate the firm’s process with prospective clients. The combination of earned reputation, new talent and transparency in marketing has led Stonewood to avoid the cyclical ups and downs experienced by many Minneapolis builders during the recession.
“We have remained steady with our business because we do not chase trends,” says Gustafson. “We do not build a lot of spec homes; we build custom homes so our clients are trying to avoid trends. Our clients want to build a home that is not easily identified by a certain era in 20 years. It is fun because we end up doing more historical renovation projects instead of running after the latest architectural style or trend.”
The Minneapolis residential real estate market has not faced the valleys and peaks that many of the markets south of the Twin Cities have faced, however in a sign of the times Stonewood has seen an increased amount of projects centering around empty nesters downsizing to custom homes in the 5,000-square-foot range, from a previous residence that usually was double in size.
“We are doing a wide variety of projects for empty nesters,” says Gustafson. “Even though they are the same demographic, they all have different needs, and often their design is based on their personal interests and hobbies.”
With such a wide variety of client needs, Stonewood’s stellar reputation allows them access to Minneapolis’ highest quality of contractors and suppliers, along with stable material prices. One project with a historical angle Gustafson is excited about is the renovation of a Tudor-style home. The challenge of the project allows Stonewood to use its resources and use history to set its own trends in design. “It is fun to have to figure out how to create things that were hand-carved 150 years ago,” says Gustafson. For future projects, it is important for Gustafson that Stonewood continues to take on projects that are fun for him and his team.
“For the next year we just want to find fun projects that are as interesting as the projects we have done the last couple of years,” says Gustafson. “We want to continue to work for interesting people and do our 12 custom homes every year. Any more than that and we lose the personal touch that our clients love about us.”