Developing the skills of a large homebuilder with the personal touch of a family-owned company.
While having lunch in 1999, Robert Gladstein and Michael Gladstein jotted down ideas on a napkin of how they would start a small home building company. Today, the Gladsteins, along with co-owner Joel Mezistrano, took their idea and turned it into an internationally known home building company—American Classic Homes. Over the last several years, the local, family-owned company in Washington has been building between 60 to 80 homes per year throughout the Seattle area. Company partners Michael Gladstein, Robert Gladstein and Joel Mezistrano have more than 40 years of collective homebuilding experience throughout the greater Puget Sound Area. It is this combined experience that is earning the company the quality reputation it has sought from the beginning.
With communities and custom homes in Renton, Sammamish, Kirkland, Bellevue, West Seattle, Mercer Island, Auburn, Newcastle and Queen Anne, the company is pulling in an impressive annual revenue of around $60 million. Considering the company only has 30 employees, this speaks volumes. In the last two years, sales managers for American Classic Homes have won New Home Council Awards for excellence in sales.
“We’ve been fortunate enough to, during the downturn, find some great properties from builders that were going out of business and at the same time, we were able to partner with some outside investors to really cut loss from our company,” Gladstein says. “We have a really great company with really great employees that have come from different builders throughout the northwest. I think that we really excel because we have a really great team.”
American Classic Homes recognizes the advances in energy efficient design that have impacted what we build and how we build it. Advancing with these developments, the company has more than 50 plans to choose from, including designs optimized for multi-generational families, comfort for family on extended visits, telecommuters, first time home-buyers and move-down buyers. As a local builder, it can offer the flexibility to tailor homes in ways that national builders cannot. Additionally, the company has shifted its strategy slightly, building a larger number of smaller plats, with multifamily areas and rebuilds in more expensive areas.
According to Mezistrano, it’s a very competitive market for land supply.
“All of our floor plans offer convenience for that buyer with dual masters or guest suites on the main floor in addition to upstairs and higher room counts in some cases to accommodate larger families and extended families,” Mezistrano says. “Also, just with the nature of our buyer, feng shui is very important as well as the orientation of some of the houses. We pay close attention to that as we lay out our plats and decide exactly where the houses are going to be situated on the lot, even extending to how the interior is laid out.”
In terms of value, American Classic Homes’ models offer everything a buyer would want in a home. The company has one simple goal: provide more for less, while making the home buying process as easy as possible. To go above and beyond this goal, it has the resources of a large homebuilder and the personal touch of a familyowned company. The company refuses to play the bait-and-switch game - advertising stripped-down home models that require extensive upgrades and upcharges. In other words, what customers see in the model home is what they get.
“We don’t have a model where we sell a stripped-down house and let people have pages and pages of options to get it up to the full-feature home they would expect,” Gladstein says. “We put much more into the house. Yes, people do make some changes and some customizations, but they don’t have to. It’s more for true personalization as opposed to some of the things that you would really expect if you’re paying that kind of money for a house.”
The company has the purchasing power and efficient processes that result in construction of full-featured homes for the same or lower cost per square foot as its competitors. Mezistrano says all three owners of the company feel it’s very important to take a handson approach to their company, interacting and meeting with every customer.
“On our website, we have a picture where we’re each holding our cell phone numbers on a card,” he says. “We openly encourage any of our customers, prospects, suppliers or anyone to call us directly at any time. We compete a lot with some of the national builders and that kind of personal touch, along with the flexibility we offer, that’s something that some of the national builders can’t offer. For us to be a local, family-owned business is a good thing in the eyes of our customers. With that said, we also have the scale and the purchasing power to give them the value that they’re looking for.”
This process ensures a personal touch that larger builders cannot offer.
“We plan to be a staple of the community for decades to come and know that quality and customer satisfaction are key to long-term success in the building industry,” the company states.