Photo Caption: Celebrating 50 years of homebuilding in Texas are, from left, Jeff Buell, owner; Steve Von Hofe, partner and Houston division president; and Frank Sitterle, Jr., owner. Sitterle Homes debuted in Houston last year and expanded in the area this year.
One of the Houston area's newest builders has deep roots in Texas that stretch back 50 years.
Sitterle Homes, which debuted in the Houston market last year, is celebrating its golden anniversary, marking a journey that Frank Sitterle Sr., began during a 1964 recession when he lost his job as a homebuilder's sales manager.
"The owner said he had to let me go because there was a recession and we would never again see as many houses sold as we had been selling," Sitterle said. "That didn't seem right to me, so I met with an architect, told him what I wanted and had five house plans drawn up. Not knowing any better, I called developers and asked if they would sell me lots. Then all I needed was money to build homes."
Sitterle approached several businesses before meeting with Gulf Coast Mortgage, a Houston-based firm just entering the San Antonio market, which decided to finance the building of three homes.
"We talked and then the lender grew quiet and said, 'I think you'll make it,' " he said.
Her words were prophetic.
Fifty years later, Sitterle Homes remains locally owned and operates in three Texas markets, building hundreds of homes annually. The company grew from 2009 to 2013 by 355 percent. Projections indicate a 32 percent increase for 2014.
Houston has welcomed the builder enthusiastically, said Steve Von Hofe, partner and Houston division president.
"We opened in Riverstone and are approximately three-fourths sold in that community," he said. "Considering we didn't really get started until June or July and we have 45 sales and $20 million in revenue, that's not bad."
Sitterle is expanding this year, debuting model homes in Imperial and Cross Creek Ranch recently, followed by a summer grand opening of a gated community in Katy, Roesner Woods.
"I think by the end of 2015, we should be in more than 10 communities in and around Houston offering a myriad of products that will appeal to everyone from the empty nester to the move-up and estate buyer," Von Hofe said.
Von Hofe credits the success Sitterle Homes has seen in Houston to the stellar reputation the family-owned company enjoys in San Antonio.
"When I started with Sitterle in Houston, I found a lot of people already knew about the company from its long presence in San Antonio," he said. "There was certainly name recognition within the industry and buyers moving from San Antonio were coming to Houston hoping to buy a Sitterle home."
Von Hofe, who himself boasts decades in the Houston residential arena and grew up in the construction business building cabinets with his father before attending college, respects the qualities of a family-owned business.
"Probably the biggest difference between a large corporation and a family-owned company is the flexibility of a smaller firm," he said. "Making things happen in a large firm is like trying to turn a big ship. Here, I feel like I'm steering a speed boat."
The company's responsiveness is reflected in its home designs, which have so many options that buyers receive more of a semi-custom experience, Von Hofe said.
"With our homes in Riverstone, we offer four different kitchen designs, three different master baths and three different hall bath options, plus we can make other changes buyers might want," he said.
"Our designs are very spacious, with 14-foot ceilings, and there is a custom feel to the standard amenities we put into a home."
In Houston, Sitterle Homes offers a mix of garden home and traditional single-family home designs. The opening of Roesner Woods will introduce Sitterle's estate product to the market. For more information, visit www.sitterlehomes.com.