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Jeff Demaske and Larry Buckendorf, Journey Homes

In the 1990s, Jeff Demaske had no intention of building houses. Instead, as owner of J & J Construction, his plan was to prepare lots for other builders. That plan took a different direction when some builders couldn’t close on the lots during the economic downturn in the late ’90s. So Demaske did what they couldn’t do; he built a handful of houses. That’s when he saw there was profit to be made not just in dirt work but in building homes. Shortly after, he met Scott Mueller, then owner of Journey Homes. “I started doing his excavating work. We got to be friends. We hunted and fished together. The conversation always turned to if we could have more lots we could build more houses.” They became partners on Willowbrook, a Greeley subdivision, with each keeping 75 lots and selling the remaining 50. In 2003, when Mueller picked up stakes and moved to South Dakota, Demaske bought his company. Journey Homes has been on an upward trajectory ever since. Today Demaske, along with Larry Buckendorf, who became his partner in 2001, and Scott Schumacher, who came on board as a minority partner in 2017, oversee three companies: Journey Homes, J & J Construction and Crow Creek Construction with a total of 125 employees. Factor in subcontractors and trades and there are about 2,000 people working on Journey subdivisions and homes at any given time, Buckendorf said. “Our subs are incredibly loyal. Some have been with us from the beginning. Behrens Roofing has roofed every roof of ours. We talk to subs every month if not weekly. We have high expectations and hold them to it. The opinion out in the field is we’re hard to get along with. We just hold everyone accountable. There’s a difference.” Subs bank on getting paid, Buckendorf added, and Journey doesn’t disappoint. “They know there’s a steady and consistent revenue stream and that they will be paid,” he said. Not only have the number of closings spiraled upward, so have home prices. When Demaske got in the business, a starter home — which Journey Homes specializes in — sold for $89,000. Today Journey’s starter homes range from $330,000 to $500,000 in multiple subdivisions along the Front Range, including Greeley, Loveland, Fort Collins, Timnath, the Tri-Town area of Frederick, Firestone and Dacono, and most noticeably Severance, essentially in Demaske’s backyard. At one time Journey Homes even had a division in Colorado Springs. “We believe we’re 20 to 25 percent of the market share,” said Buckendorf, a lawyer and CPA who cut his teeth in land development working at Clarkson Land and Lifestyle Homes in Greeley before joining Demaske. The company has grown from 187 closings in 2001 to 644 closings in 2019. Demaske said they anticipate 500 to 600 closings annually for the next three to five years, unless the economy throws them a curveball. He also anticipates building 300 to 400 apartment units annually as well. “We run our business based on what we do […]
Source: BizWest

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