Today we’re excited to share an interview with our good friend and colleague, Christina Presley. Chris is President and Founder of Epic Homes, a new Denver based home building company. KGA has the honor of being the Architectural partner to Chris and her partner Bill Wood in designing Epic’s first line of homes. Epic broke ground last month in Leyden Rock, a community located in Northwest Arvada, and in keeping with her laid back, girl next store persona Chris broke a bottle of “Epic” beer on the excavator signifying the beginning of the “Epic Homes adventure.”
An over achiever by nature, Chris is also serving as the 2015 President of the Home Builders Association of Metro Denver. Being the first female President it also seemed like the obvious time to found the Professional Women in Building Council’s Denver Chapter and serve as its President.
KGA: Let’s start with a little more about you. How did you get into the home building industry?
CHRIS: Right out of college I got my “dream” job with a mutual fund company in Los Angeles. Long story short, I hated it. The one part about it I did like though, were the projects related to the home building industry. After a year in L.A., my Dad convinced me to quit my job and move back home to Colorado Springs. I got back and was looking for jobs in the newspaper – because that’s how you looked back then – and this one job for an accounts payable clerk at the Hallmark Building kept showing up. All it said was to “inquire within”, which I thought was really strange – who does that?
Fast forward about 2 weeks later, the Colorado Springs Business Journal published a top 10 list of home builders in the city. The Hallmark Building Company was #2. When I saw that, everything clicked. I was at their office a half hour later. That was my first job in the home building industry, and I’ve never looked back.
KGA: Tell us about your experiences as a woman in the home building industry.
CHRIS: Coming up through my career, I never once thought about the fact that I was a woman in a male-dominated field. My focus has always been on doing the best job I could, learning as much as possible, and preparing myself to take on the leadership role that I knew I wanted to achieve. I know that some women have a different thought process, and do look at themselves as being different and perhaps held back because they are in a male-dominated industry. I believe this thought in itself is the most limiting thing they will need to overcome. You first have to believe in yourself. Then have the courage to suggest new and different ideas that you have that can make the company better. And finally, have the courage to ask for what you want.
KGA: That is great advice; what other inspiration would you give to women who are entering – or already in – a traditionally male-dominated field?
CHRIS: This truly applies to anyone in any industry. One of my absolute favorite sayings is “the greatest power anyone has is their ability to believe”. Believe in yourself, and have the courage to suggest new and different ideas – this will only increase your value. Twice in my career I’ve had the opportunity to take on roles that I was under-qualified for. I wouldn’t be where I am or who I am today if I hadn’t had the confidence to believe in myself and take on those positions.
My favorite quote ever – which is hanging on my office wall and probably still hanging on the wall at my old office – really sums this up: “The only thing that stands between a person and what they want from life is merely the will to try it and the faith to believe it is possible.”
KGA: Speaking of believing in yourself, what made you decide to start Epic?
CHRIS: Starting my own home building company has been my dream ever since I got into the industry. After leaving my last job, I was looking back at old performance reviews from the jobs in my mid-20’s. Even then, I’d stated, “start my own home building company” as one of my goals.
A huge part of the reason is my desire to make the decisions that I know are right, and not have to base everything on the stock market or profit margins. Being able to make decisions with integrity and knowing I’m doing the right thing means so much to me. In the past, when I’ve been in the position of “employee”, I haven’t always been able to make the decisions that I would have made had it been my own business.
KGA: There are plenty of new home builders out there, why should people choose an Epic home? What makes Epic different?
CHRIS: When we look at building, we focus first on the home and what makes it a home – and that starts with the buyer, and how they want to live in it. It isn’t about the square footage, or a formula of what products and plans we should be offering – it is all about the buyer. This isn’t about us, it’s about you!
Anybody who comes in contact with us at Epic Homes will feel there is something different – there will be no script we use when people walk in our doors – we will follow the buyer’s lead so we understand how they want to live. A great example is how we went about creating our first product line – we’re offering 3 two-story plans that are essentially the same in terms of square footage – but are completely different in how they live and what options are available. When people are shopping for a home, this makes a huge difference! No one will be pigeon-holed into a single plan simply because of square footage or the number of rooms. All the plans start the same and can grow as much as you need them. We want our buyers to fall in love with the plan that lives the way they want to live!
KGA: Why “Epic”? Is there a story behind the name?
CHRIS: Epic started with a vision – the vision to have a company that is all about people and relationships, and goes beyond the experiences of building and buying a home to the experiences that will happen inside that home – LIFE! So much of our lives happen inside of our homes – our home is where we raise our children, spend time with our family and friends; there’s so many experiences that happen there. When we sat down and thought about how to capture this idea, one word came to mind: EPIC. We want those experiences to be EPIC.
KGA: Tell us more about your upcoming project in Leyden Rock.
CHRIS: The grand opening is planned for March, 2016. In total we have 52 lots at Leyden Rock, where we’ll be offering single-family homes in the upper $400,000 to $600,000 price range. We have a ranch-style and three 2-story home plans, all with tons of great options so that home owners can customize the plan to fit how they want to live.
KGA: And what’s next?
CHRIS: Our next project is still in the works, but I can tell you that our goal is to build 120-150 homes per year. We’re looking as far as south as Castle Rock and as far north as Erie and potentially Longmont.
KGA: Tell us more about your partner, Bill Wood
CHRIS: I would love to tell you more about Bill! Bill is a truly wonderful, caring person and a phenomenal builder. He prides himself on quality and doing the right thing – and with over 30 years of homebuilding experience, he knows what the right thing is. The way he treats people really shows – he has so many longstanding relationships, both with trade partners and former employees, and they all want to work with him again. We worked together at my previous job for 5 years (he was my first management hire!) and I can honestly say there is no one else I’d rather have as my partner.
KGA: A huge thank you to Chris for taking the time to chat with us. If you’ve never met Chris before and find yourself in a room with her, we highly encourage you to introduce yourself. To keep up with Chris and her work with Epic Homes, you can visit their website or follow them on Facebook.