At Brand Vaughan, we service Atlanta-area residential builders of all types. However, none are quite as complex as our custom builders. These fantastical dreamers bring us new challenges weekly and time and time again our team delivers in a way that makes us proud and excited about the future of homebuilding in our region.
One builder in particular, Principle Builders Group (PBG), facilitates some of the most stunning creations and our team is excited to be a part of their success. Recently we sat down with principal owners Ryan Locke and Tony Bondhus to discuss their methods and strategies for growing their business.
Tony and Ryan have been partners for over twelve years, after getting their start in an unconventional way. During the 2008 downturn, they had a mutual friend who was a lender at the bank they both utilized.
The bank was going through a tough time during the recession but had some property that they wanted to develop in order to sell it. Since Tony and Ryan were two of the bank’s only solvent builders left, the mutual friend asked Tony and Ryan if they would get together to develop this property so he didn’t have to pick and choose between the two of them. From there, a beautiful partnership formed.
They originally planned three houses for the property, but they were only able to build one before the bank closed. While a sad origin, this experience working together solidified a great partnership, and Ryan and Tony decided to continue it.
PBG now specializes in custom residential projects. While they aim to do several specs a year, the majority of the time, their projects are custom modern builds, with a few traditional and transitional styles in there as well.
From international to local, younger to older, their customer base is all over the board. It’s families, young professional couples, empty-nesters and single homeowners. PBG builds around 8-10 custom houses per year with four full-time employees and a talented team of subcontractors.
“Water is definitely one of the enemies,” Tony told us.
Ryan agreed and elaborated that: “Most of our architects will design creative roofing products, and things of that nature like flat roofs and TPO membranes, but we don’t always get the full details to make it happen. We have to figure out a lot of aspects of design on our own. We’ve gotten good at it now because we’ve cut our teeth on it. We’ve learned a lot about the complexities of residential building and how it’s innovated over the past 10 years.”
Currently, Ryan and Tony are working on a custom project that entails a 60-foot sliding steel door. It’s four panels that slide independently in different directions and is held up by a large steel beam on the top and the bottom. “We are responsible for taking the architect's vision and bringing it to life,” Ryan beamed. It’s a big undertaking, but they make it happen.
Ryan and Tony often have clients who try to change plans or make extensive additions halfway through the build. “Every experience makes you better at asking preemptive questions that you maybe didn’t know to ask before,” Tony told us. “With each new client, we learn something new. We learn every day and become better builders with each project.”
A lot of people begin their careers in residential building, grow to commercial and then work in industrial construction, but Ryan’s career went backward, and he is grateful for it.
Ryan’s past industrial experience has helped him immensely in residential building planning stages. He is thorough and extremely detailed in creating, understanding and following building plans.
According to Ryan and Tony, big sliding doors are huge right now. There’s a lot of glazing and a lot of glass. Many of PBG’s clients are trending towards materials that are going to age well, so they are working with a lot of composites. It’s not all just big, shiny things, though. They are really focusing on the long-term maintenance that comes with materials and their longevity.
PBG’s buyers are trending towards home automation. For example, a lot of clients are looking for technology in their home that connects to their cell phones for ease of customization and automation. And with the pandemic, PBG has seen a lot of focus on adding home office space to their build plan.
PBG has been a partner with Brand Vaughan for over 2 years. With the promise of phenomenal service and encouraging incentives, PBG signed on and it’s been a fantastic relationship since day one.
“BVL really makes sure we are taken care of. They’ve gotten to know us as clients and treat us almost like we are cherished family members. We’ve never had another company treat us as well as BVL,” Tony confidently told us, and Ryan agreed.
“We really appreciate how customer-facing BVL is. It helps us tremendously to have a resource who wants to be there for us and is ready to help,” Ryan said.