Craig Sharp Homes has built a model for understanding the market – and building to suit.
WITH FIVE DECADES in the business, Craig Sharp Homes knows how to preserve what works for the custom homebuilder and how to adapt to changing needs for the homeowner at the same time.
Serving the Wichita, Kansas, market, the builder creates homes tailored to individual buyers and delivers remodels and additions. Business has grown, thanks to referrals from satisfied homeowners.
“Understanding your market is about listening well – to realtors and clients,” President Craig Sharp says. “The thing about
our field is it changes often. We stay up on the market and change with it. It’s tough, but that’s one of the key elements of being successful, because the market doesn’t stay the same all the time.”
As a third-generation builder, Sharp knows satisfied clients and a personal touch have contributed to the company’s longevity. The company now builds around 40 to 50 homes a year – the right size to maintain the quality Sharp values in each home.
“We focus a lot on being unique, innovative and customer-oriented,” he says. “I am personally involved with all the homeowners. Even though we’re a decent-sized company, they still have contact with me. We don’t do a lot of advertising. We spent what we feel like are advertising dollars on going above and beyond for warranty service and customer care because the referrals and repeat business is really where we’ve done well.”
Sharp’s father, Walter Sharp, a former vocational school construction teacher, started the company in 1965. Initially, he focused on remodel and repair work and then moved into whole house construction, beginning with starter homes.
Craig Sharp was working at construction sites at 12 and running crews by 17. Through college, he continued managing crews, performing trim, siding and deck work. Two years after he finished his degree in industrial technology and business, he stepped into a management role for the overall business. In 2002, he bought the family business.
“When my father owned and ran the business, he was doing all starter homes,” Craig Sharp says. “We’ve moved to larger and larger homes.”
The company also has delved into developing and operates about 65 rental properties Sharp has bought or built over the years – an advantage for homeowners waiting for their dream home to be complete. But the focus remains on making homeowner visions become reality.
“We don’t target being huge,” Sharp says. “We target being around $16 [million] to $20 million in sales and 40 to 50 homes a year. We feel like that’s what we can control. If I grow bigger than where I am now, I’m not going to be able to keep my hand on everything. It would take away from what we do.”
The company has built a reputation for beautiful details, so much so that locals often recognize a Craig Sharp home without being told who built it.
One of the company’s trademark looks is interior brick and stone work, which lend character to homes, especially traditional
Though those have faded out to more contemporary styles, Craig Sharp always adds elements that make a home unique. Another Craig Sharp strength is using the space overhead to add aesthetic appeal.
Barreled ceilings have become popular, Sharp says, as well as groin vaults, especially for memorable entryways. Tray ceilings also make a space feel more distinct and grand, and taller ceilings with beams can turn a room into a coveted space.
A blend of those techniques can become a statement piece – and Craig Sharp Homes has the capabilities to make it reality
“We do a lot of customized ceilings in different rooms,” Sharp says. “I get customers who look through models, and they know when they see one of our houses who built it. A lot of that deals with our ceilings.”
A passion for excellence – from ceiling to floor and inside and out – is a quality that helped Craig Sharp Homes navigate the economic downturn. While the market in Wichita plummeted 200 percent a few years ago, the company’s slowest year, by dollar amounts of homes built, only dropped by 30 percent.
“We’ve had a pretty good demand for our mid-range and upperend range homes in Wichita, and I think it’s only going to improve,” Sharp says. “We emphasize quality, craftsmanship and customer care. We go above and beyond to take care of our customers.”
The company will maintain its strong foothold and recently has moved to a new office to better serve clients, Sharp says. The new space will allow for client meetings with 3-D imaging visible on a wall-mounted screen and offer other advantages.