Brothers Carry on Family’s Building Tradition
August 1, 2003
Troy and Travis means were born into the home-building business.
BY SARAH PURDY, RENO GAZETTE JOURNAL
Reno, NV— For brothers Troy and Travis Means, co-owners of HomeCrafters in Reno, entering the building industry in Northern Nevada as custom home builders just came naturally.
“We were building cities in sandboxes as little kids – (our family’s business) really rubbed off on us,” Troy means said.
Great-grandsons to the late Perry means, a Carson City architect; grandsons to structural engineer jack Means, owner of Means and Associates in Reno; and sons to Alan Means, owner of Juniper Trails Development and a major developer of Caughlin Ranch, the brothers said there was never any doubt they’d end up in the construction business one way or another.
“Both of us went away to college specifically to gain degrees in some form of the industry,” said Troy Means, 35, who earned a bachelors degree in business administration and real estate development from the University Of Southern California, and founded HomeCrafters in 1996.
His younger brother, Travis, 31, joined him as an equal partner in the business in 1999, after graduating with a bachelors degree in construction management from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and working in the San Francisco Bay Area in high-tech and biotech construction for five years.
It didn’t take long for him to decide to come back to Reno: “The number-one reason I came back was the quality of life, the lifestyle. The vast majority of my hobbies are outdoors in the Tahoe region – the quality of life is just far superior here.”
Formal education aside, the business partners’ experience in building began at an early age.
“We started out as laborers at about 14 or 15 and worked our way through the various aspects of the business,” Travis Means said.
“We started getting paid at 15. When (our father) had an engineering firm, we went on surveying projects with him, I remember, when I was seven or eight,” Troy means said.
Although their family’s reputation and strong ties to the community were a big help in forming business relationships and securing financing in the beginning, HomeCrafters has built a formidable reputation in its own right in the past seven years.
The firm has grown rapidly since its first year, when Troy Means and his two employees – a superintendent and field associate – built only two homes.
Now HomeCrafters – which specializes in building custom homes ranging in price from $500,000 to more than $2 million – has 10 full-time employees in addition to the owners, and builds an average of 20 to 25 homes per year. Their annual gross sales volume last year was $13 million.
The business consists of two divisions: a semi-custom homes and remodel division, which Travis Means heads up, and a custom home division, run by Troy Means.
The builders recently sold out Pinehaven, a neighborhood community in Caughlin Ranch consisting of 54 high-end, semi-custom homes that have won numerous Builders Association of Northern Nevada BANNER awards and Parade of Homes awards.
HomeCrafters has built custom homes in Montrêux, Verdi, Washoe Valley, Arrowcreek, Caughlin Ranch and Field Creek; just secured an approximately 70-acre parcel in southwest Reno for a new community.
They have also purchased 20 semi-custom homesites at Sommersett, where they’ll break ground this fall.
Prices for HomeCrafters’ semi-custom homes at Sommersett will start in the $600,000s.
The Means attribute the success they’ve achieved over the past seven years to professionalism, dedication to quality and customer service, personal involvement in every project.
They’re also aware of the importance of having enough employees to allow themselves quality time with their families.
“Our personal lives and family lives are pretty important to us; we probably carry more staff than others to accommodate that lifestyle. “Troy means said.
“With all the pressures associated with this industry… a person can burn out pretty quickly working all the time, which doesn’t reflect well on the company or the product.
“We’ve done a good job balancing family lives and working lives.”
Does running a business put a strain on the brothers relationship?
Not at all, according to Travis Means: “Actually, it’s been pretty easy. Most of our hobbies – skiing, fishing, climbing, hiking, flying – entail our being together.
“We’ve been able to maintain a business relationship and a fairly strong friendship, which is nice.”