Country Joe Homes
Country Joe Homes continues the Miller family’s legacy in the homebuilding industry.
By Alan Dorich
Country Joe Homes believes in being accessible to its customers. In fact, owner Joey Miller lives in one of the neighborhoods he has developed, where his phone number can be found on job site information boxes outside nearly every house.
“A lot of other builders will say, ‘You live in your own development?’” Miller says. “I say, ‘Yeah, what do I have to hide?’”
If his customers call or email him on the weekends with any questions or an issue, Miller makes a point of driving to their houses and figuring out a solution with them. “At the end of the day, everybody is satisfied,” he says. “That’s the right thing to do.”
Based in Lakeville, Minn., Country Joe Homes develops and builds within an hour’s distance of its home city. Miller’s family legacy in construction began in April 1977, when his father, Joe Miller, founded Joe Miller Homes.
The company enjoyed strong success in the 1980s and early 1990s, and even grew to the point where it built 250 to 300 homes annually. Joe Miller eventually sold his company to D.R. Horton Inc., but began building in the industry as Country Joe Homes in 1999.
Today, “We build anywhere from 60 to 70 homes a year,” Joey Miller says, noting that the company places a stronger emphasis on providing the best quality and service over being the biggest or least expensive builder.
“We do what is right for our homeowners and what is morally right,” he says, noting that this is not always the most financially profitable approach for the company. “But we think in the long run that’s best for everybody.”
This strategy has brought homeowners back to Country Joe Homes time and again. “We have families who we have built up to four homes for,” Miller says.
The company also sees the benefits as a builder, but even more as a developer, Vice President Steve Sauber says. “When we develop our own communities we have the ability to provide a consistent and quality experience for each of our homebuyers and the neighborhood in its entirety,” he says.
“We are able to create consistency in the architectural features of the homes,” he continues. “It gives the buyers a great value in their homes.”
In Apple Valley
One of Country Joe Homes’ latest model homes was the Oakhill in Hunter Forrest in Apple Valley, Minn. “The Oakhill is one of the most beautiful homes we have built in recent years,” Sauber declares.
“It really spoke to our attention to quality and what we’re trying to do with every home we build,” he says, noting that it featured many architectural designs on its front, including a front porch. “Having the porch on our home brings a sense of community to each home and neighborhood,” he says.
The Oakhill has a gracious kitchen, family room area, and granite vanity tops in its bathrooms and a covered back porch off the kitchen, Miller says. It also showcases a beautiful staircase in its interior and upgraded millwork throughout the home.
“When developing our plans, we try to think about functionality in how the homeowners are going to live in their home,” Miller says. “We think, ‘If we were going to live in that home, how would we want it?’ So that when a family buys that home, it impacts their life in a positive way.”
Doing it Right
Country Joe Homes maintains a culture of quality in its work environment. “It’s who we are,” Sauber says, noting that its associates hold it as their first priority. “Quality and service are needed to make this company successful, year in and year out.”
The firm regularly invests time and money into a checks and balances system that reinforces this philosophy. If an issue comes up during construction, “We’d rather fix and change it than say, ‘We’ll do it better next time,’” Miller says.
The checks and balances system keeps Country Joe Homes’ home building experience consistent. However, “People are human, so nothing’s perfect,” Miller admits. “But we just have to make sure we do what’s right.”
Country Joe Homes keeps a clear stream of communication with its homeowners. “All of our sales representation works exclusively for Country Joe Homes, so we can ensure a consistent and enjoyable home building experience,” Miller says, noting that it employs associates who have been with the company up to 15 years.
The company recognizes that every family lives in their home in their own way. Country Joe Homes is happy to partner with its homebuyers to build them the perfect home for their family, Sauber adds. “We partner well with the home owners to give them what their family needs,” he states.
Country Joe Homes enjoys strong relationships with its subcontractors. “We have very little turnover,” Sauber says. “We have found this helps us provide a consistent and quality home for our home owners.”
The company, Miller adds, is willing to pay more for these trade partners. “We don’t always look at the bottom line when hiring a subcontractor,” he asserts.
“We look at the relationship and the work they do,” he continues. “The last thing we want to do is hire someone because the price is right.”
Country Joe Homes plans to continue building homes at its current rate. After years of successful homebuilding in Lakeville, Country Joe Homes has recently moved into new communities throughout the Twin Cities.
It also reflects the philosophy of Vice President Ron Dahlen, who has worked with the Miller family since 1983. “He said, ‘The biggest thing for this company is we want to make it bulletproof,’” Miller says.
This ensures Country Joe Homes is there for its customers and its employees, he explains. “We can be a servant for our employees, trade partners and homebuyers,” he says.
At a High Level
From the beginning of the construction process until the home is completed, Country Joe Homes works to maintain a safe home site for its trade partners and homebuyers. “We have a full-time safety coordinator that manages safety policy,” owner Joey Miller states. “We try to be very preventative to ensure the safety of everyone on our homesites.”
Country Joe Homes takes great care in how it constructs the building envelope on its homes. “Any builder can offer the fancy finishes, but what’s most important is that our homeowners have a well built home with sustainability and longevity that lasts,” Vice President Steve Sauber says.
Joey Miller agrees, adding that the company has a checklist to follow for this process. “Our job superintendents expect high levels of quality from our trade contractors,” he says. “If they aren’t reached, we have them redo it.”
Country Joe Homes provides the same level of attention to all homes in this process, no matter if it is a $1 million home or one of lower cost, Sauber asserts. “All of our homebuyers receive the same building quality and envelope in their home,” he states.