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HBS Development Inc. builds a model home for the first time in years to showcase its talents

and generate more interest in its custom homes.

By Janice Hoppe

The Simms family name has been synonymous with custom homebuilding in Dayton, Ohio, for the past 90 years. “I am the third-generation homebuilder and Mike [Simms] is the fourth generation,” Bill Simms says. “Mike is now president and I am in the supporting role. I am very fortunate as a father to have a son who could step in and do a better job than what I did.”

HBS Development Inc. (Homes By Simms) focuses on building custom homes and property development in Dayton and throughout southwest Ohio. After many years, Homes by Bill Simms became HBS Development (Homes by Simms) to develop communities and offer multiple product lines while remaining focused on custom homebuilding.

The company keeps its volume low, producing eight to 12 homes per year to maintain a strong client focus. “Our clients expect consistency and we have a lot of referral business,” President Mike Simms says. “We have a team of contractors to maintain that consistency who know what we at HBS expect out of them and what our customers expect. We were fortunate to keep that consistency during the downturn about six years ago because of our loyal suppliers and contractors, and were fortunate to have a referral base during that time.”

Office Manager Totha Hurt says concentrating on service builds loyalty and keeps customers happy. “We give an inclusive warranty for everything for an entire year,” she adds. “It helps keep customers happy and generates referrals. We built homes for families whose children are now building with us. It’s about consistency, communication and trust.” 

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Meeting Expectations

One of the biggest changes in the past decade Simms has noticed is that clients are building the spaces they need versus designing for a certain square footage. “People used to see a house they would like or have an idea of what they wanted,” he explains. “Now we are designing houses with the rooms people need and the sizes they need instead of saying, ‘I want a 3,500-square-foot house.’ We design homes to fit their needs.”

Change is always expected in custom homebuilding and HBS Development says that doesn’t always translate into an increase in cost. “We are set up for changes and expect it,” Simms says. “We can do a construction change in-house quickly and efficiently.”

Technology has allowed HBS Development to quickly meet its clients’ needs and adapt to changes. For example, when a client wants a customized item, the company maintains a database of features it can draw upon to show examples of its work. The database allows HBS Development to offer quick price estimates, as well.

“People are used to getting quick answers for everything and they don’t expect anything different with custom homes,” Simms adds. “We are fortunate to have an in-house designer, Shannon Ruby, and our own design software, which allows us to make changes immediately for customers to review.” SimmsInfo

Modeled for Success

For the first time in many years, HBS Development is building an $800,000 model home in Country Brook, located in Springboro, Ohio, that will open this summer. The subdivision spans 370 acres and will include about 200 homes that range in price from $500,000 to more than $1 million with 3,000 square feet on average. 

“We hope the model home will generate a few more sales per year,” Simms says. “If the market changes, the model home could help keep our sales where it’s at. It will be nice to be able to show people the quality of the house who aren’t familiar with our product. At the end of the day, people want to see the product in real-time and we are fortunate to be able to put up a model and take people through it.”

Moving forward, HBS Development plans to continuously improve the quality and longevity of its homes through innovation, establish and maintain customer relationships and pass the company on to the next generation. “My kids are younger – my oldest is 17 – but we hope we will have more generations of Simms in custom homebuilding and continue the succession plan,” Simms says.

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