Immediately as you come through the door, there’s a fully-decked out kitchen to your left, a swathe of samples and floor plans adorning the walls – and a full-size, honest-to-Betsy house in front of you sporting the company’s namesake. A house. We’re not talking just a facade; open the door and go in, and you’re standing in a fully-fledged, completely furnished, decked-out home complete with Brady Bunch astroturf and patio in the backyard. The details are amazing; everything is meticulously designed, from the floor tiles to the countertops to the wall sconces, and if you didn’t know better, you’d think you were standing in the perfect little country retreat and could simply settle in for a weekend.
“Tug looked at the market and saw there was a need for a builder to provide affordable, high-quality new construction. Everybody deserves to own a home.”
– Sondra Thirston, Sales Director for Red Door Homes
We were treated to lunch and a tour, courtesy of Thirston, who shepherded us through the showroom and the model house, explaining the design and building team’s work with the customers.
“Tug looked at the market and saw there was a need for a builder to provide affordable, high-quality new construction,” she says. “Everybody deserves to own a home.”
‘Tug’ is Jason Huddleston, a builder who was raised in the small hamlet of Micanopy in North Central Florida. His family has lived there for three generations, so he grew up with a love of the community and a fierce commitment to helping it thrive.
“I’m an electrician by training; then I became a contractor,” he explains. “My background is high-end custom homes. I discovered a lot of money was being wasted in that industry because of over-engineered designs.”
“It’s like a cheese pizza,” Huddleston describes with the same whimsical humor you find in his YouTube videos. “You can add more toppings and make it a supreme if you want one, but you have options. Normally, in a traditional build with an architect, it starts with the supreme. Working with our team, you can take some of the extra toppings, none of them, or all of them, depending on what you really want.”
“It’s like a cheese pizza. You can add more toppings and make it a supreme if you want one, but you have options. Normally, in a traditional build with an architect, it starts with the supreme. Working with our team, you can take some of the extra toppings, none of them, or all of them, depending on what you really want.”
– ‘Tug’ Huddleston
It’s the meticulous attention to customer needs that defines Huddleston and the RDH team, who make it a point of being actively involved from soup to nuts so that the homeowner never feels adrift or alone, but also feels a real sense of empowerment and control over the process. Huddleston sets the tone by not styling himself as a micromanager. He knows how to do pretty much all the jobs, but he’s happy to let the people he hired to do them.
“I trust, but verify,” he says. “I vet the people we hire, and once they’re on the team, I make sure they’re on point with what needs to be done and then let them go do it. I have tons of confidence in them, and there’s a real freedom in that. I don’t have to be looking over their shoulders, because they know their stuff.”
Thirston agrees. “We work hard, but we have fun doing it. Everyone from entry-level apprentice to the manager, up and down the ladder, has an opinion that matters. Everyone contributes.“
She observes that it’s an all-too-rare circumstance in corporate and office culture, having herself been in the fashion industry and knowing how some industries often pit employees against each other in corporate politics. After years of traveling and being away from home a lot, finding a position at a company she felt she could really root for and feel good about representing is more than punching a clock; it’s a fun way to spend a day.
“It’s the best job I’ve ever had,” she says. “It’s just a good time being here; sometimes it’s almost funny to think I get paid for this. I feel like I’m doing something good that does good things for other people. I’m part of a team, and we’re all getting to the same place together.”