President George McClure with The McClure Company joins the Atlanta Real Estate Forum Radio podcast as the seventh Legends of Real Estate guest to discuss the company’s founding. He looks at the building industry in the 70s and 80s and his involvement with the Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association. McClure joins host Carol Morgan on the Legends of Real Estate series.
McClure is a native of Cherokee County with the humble origins of growing up on a chicken farm. In high school, he got a summer job working for his uncle’s framing crew as a carpenter and found that he enjoyed the work.
McClure said, “I loved it a lot. It’s physical, and when you face the end of the day, you have something to show for your work.”
After working in the building industry for a few years and following a sports injury, McClure had the tough decision of figuring out what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. After reading up about the career in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, he decided to attend college to become an accountant. In his first role, his supervisors discovered he had experience in carpentry and handed him all the construction clients.
After developing his accounting skills and industry knowledge for a few years, McClure went into business for himself in 1974, achieving a goal he made during his high school years. In 1978, he bought out his business partner, taking full ownership of the company.
While running his own company, McClure, like many other builders, ran into the issue of lot shortages and decided to develop a subdivision to counter the growing problem.
McClure said, “As they say, the rest is history!”
At a time when many of Atlanta’s current builders were not in business, the 70s proved to be a crazy decade for many construction and homebuilding businesses. Interest rates sat at 17 and 18%, ordinary numbers for the time, and the Atlanta market was saturated with smaller builders. At this time, it was typical for builders to build only five to 10 houses each year.
During this time of growth, smaller banks also took the opportunity to finance builders and developers. This trend continued well into the mid-80s until the Great Recession. Now, big builders comprise the market with a noticeable absence of modest bankers to stand up for smaller businesses and a lack of capital.
McClure said, “I believe the way to succeed is to find a niche.”
While discovering his niche, McClure received advice from another industry member who produced upscale first-time buyer homes targeted at middle-class Americans. This is the market that McClure continued to target throughout his company’s history.
In almost every home he produced, McClure consciously decided to conserve the environment by delivering basement floorplans, providing his buyers with expandable, lasting space.
McClure said, “I’m a big believer in the land tells you what to do. I don’t like [developments] that all look alike and feel alike.”
True to his beliefs, McClure shared that he was recently a part of a project in Louisiana that required moving trees rather than cutting them down. Each tree cost about $25,000 to 50,000 to transfer and greatly improved the property value.
In the late 80s, McClure and three other builders co-developed a subdivision due to their experience with low lot inventory. The team decided to combine their lot-buying capabilities into a trust to buy out a project facing trouble and bring on a fourth builder to run the business side of the venture.
McClure went on to produce larger and larger subdivisions, including Summerchase at Towne Lake, which contains 110 lots. To date, his company to date has constructed developments in Cobb, Cherokee, Forsyth and Henry County, providing inventory to a large portion of the state.
McClure said, “I try to stay in that move-up first-time buyer or that middle income [bracket].”
During his start with the Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association, McClure purchased a code book to ensure he was up to date on everything he needed to know about building houses. After becoming known for being familiar with codes, he was asked to partner with inspectors and often coached other builders and remodelers on what was considered correct. At one point, the new County Commission Chairman asked McClure to help him write development regulations to develop subdivisions.
At this point, development regulations for subdivisions were only two pages long compared to today’s 50 to 80-page regulations. Knowing Cobb County possessed a good system of codes, McClure shared that they worked closely with the county to develop codes and regulations for Cherokee County.
McClure also shared that he served time on several committees and repeals boards to ensure the codes and regulations remained up to par. His involvement with the Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association stemmed from his knowledge of codes, making a name for himself in the industry.
Also possessing substantial knowledge of septic tanks and sewers, he serves on the State Department of Health’s committee determining regulations across Georgia. McClure also has previous experience building sewer plants and is one of the authors of the state code.
When McClure was just getting started building houses under The McClure Company name, he was on the hunt for additional lots. He was told he had to become a Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association member to participate in transactions. At the time, new members of the association received a Homeowner Warranty How program free of charge.
At his first meeting, McClure assisted by recording meeting minutes. He did such an incredible job that the committee appointed him as the new secretary, which was the first step toward his future role as President. McClure currently fills the role of Chairman of the Builder Action Fund, assisting with government regulations.
Government Affairs is a broad term that deals and networks with counties and cities to ensure they stay on track and provide aid when needed. Another crucial aspect of this sector is informing builders in the field of recent code and regulation changes to avoid unnecessary violations.
McClure also had the opportunity to be on the front end of the Towne Lake initial rollout and enlisted the help of the Johnston Group to zone and plan the project. His reward for his involvement was the offer of the southwest corner where he developed Summerchase.
Geared towards middle and upper-class buyers, every home in the Summerchase development contains four rooms, a basement and a flex office space. The neighborhood also has great access to schools and libraries, perfect for families with children of all ages.
McClure said, “It worked out well. Everybody is proud of it…We all worked together for the benefit of the customer.”
In 1990, McClure participated in the New American Home program through the National Association of Home Builders. All model homes in the program feature new, off-market products to allow manufacturers to show off what’s coming next in the cycle. His Victorian-style model home in Cobb County was constructed for the national convention for builders to visit in person. New technology for the time, homeowners could control the lighting, temperature and more from a computer. Another unique feature of the home requested by the project’s architect is the basement ribbon windows that give the construction an appearance of floating at night when the lights are on.
When asked what the most rewarding part of his career was, McClure’s response was helping builders and homeowners achieve the American dream of owning a home. Claiming semi-retirement, McClure’s current endeavors include serving with the Cherokee County Airport Authority.
McClure said, “When I was President of Atlanta, I tried to make every chapter, every other month…I learned a long time ago – be there, be seen, be gone.”
For those experiencing hardship in the industry, McClure suggests finding an aging-in-place niche and becoming an expert in that sector of the industry.
An inspiring figure in his own family, McClure’s nephew recently graduated college and is currently working for North Georgia Brick in sales. His love for the industry also extended to his grandchildren, who received hands-on mentoring from McClure and learned the business of building.
When asked about his current projects, McClure shared that he is currently developing a three-part commercial project. He shared that the due diligence is reaching completion with zoning scheduled for next month. Near the Cherokee County Airport, McClure has a five-acre property that will become a part of the airport or an industrial project.
Finally, he is currently in discussions with a business partner regarding purchasing a 100-acre property. The plan is to divide the land into 30-acre lots and sell one lot per year to add an inventory of oversized lots to the market.
McClure said, “Don’t build what you like. Build what sells…This isn’t a hobby. This is business.”
Tune in to the full interview above for more information about George McClure or The McClure Company. To reach McClure, contact him via phone at 404-558-1722 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A special thank you to Denim Marketing for sponsoring Atlanta Real Estate Forum Radio. A comfortable fit for companies of all shapes and sizes, Denim Marketing understands marketing strategies are not one-size-fits-all. The agency works with your company to create a perfectly tailored marketing strategy that will adhere to your specific needs and niche. Try Denim Marketing on for size by calling 770-383-3360 or by visiting www.DenimMarketing.com.
The Atlanta Real Estate Forum Radio “Legends of Real Estate” segment, presented by Denim Marketing, highlights the movers and shakers in the Atlanta real estate industry – the home builders, developers, Realtors and suppliers working to provide the American dream for Atlantans. For more information on how you can be featured as a guest, contact Denim Marketing at 770-383-3360 or fill out the Atlanta Real Estate Forum contact form. Subscribe to the Atlanta Real Estate Forum Radio podcast on iTunes, and if you like this week’s show, be sure to rate it.