Itâ€™s quite an accomplishment â€” actually, a series of accomplishments that build upon one another, such as being recognized by peers as 2006 Builder of the Year by the Lincoln County Home Builders Association; currently serving as president of the association; coming in first place in the $500-$600k home range and second place in the million dollar-plus category in this yearâ€™s Regatta Parade of Homes; in addition to expanding into estate development projects, beginning with Quinlan Estates, an up-and-coming top-of-the line housing development.
Itâ€™s quite a heady pedigree for Mark Ingle, who founded Ingle Builders Inc. in 1986,
Ingle didnâ€™t start off immediately building high dollar estate homes. Like so many, he identified a need and filled it; that of starter homes.
His work was so impressive that satisfied clients began telling their friends and associates that if they were in the market for a new home, or wanted one built from scratch, that Mark Ingle was the person they needed to contact.
As the years have progressed, previous clients whose stations in life improve contact Ingle to construct their next home. Ingle says a number of homes he builds are for repeat clients, some on their third or fourth homes.
â€œIt was more of my customers progressing into that,â€ he says.
Demand for Ingle Builders Inc. grew as word-of-mouth brought in business, to the point that Ingle estimates that 70 percent of his work originates from referrals provided by satisfied customers, architects, real estate lawyers and real estate agencies. He adds that many homeowners are repeat clients. As their fortunes have improved over the years, they have turned to Ingle to build them new homes.
Most of the remaining 30 percent of business comes from the Internet.
â€œI just talked to somebody who found us on the Lincoln County Homebuilders web site. Weâ€™ve got a link on that,â€ he says.
Another plus is a stable crew of employees who boast an aggregate 53 years worth experience.
â€œMy customers love my employees,â€ says Ingle. â€œThey donâ€™t drink. They donâ€™t cuss. Theyâ€™re all local.â€
In fact, at the companyâ€™s 20th anniversary held last year, approximately 140 people attended,
In fact, not only do clients fawn over Ingleâ€™s crew, so do his peers. They covet the employees Ingle has working for him and they often try to woo them away; thus far with no success.
Another feather in the Ingle Builders cap is the fact the crew does much of the work, but not all.
â€œWe do sub some things out,â€ says Ingle. â€œWe canâ€™t do all things.â€
Those are mostly the jobs requiring plumbing, wiring and masonry.
Itâ€™s been a remarkable journey for the son of a preacher man. (His father, Charles Ingle, has been in the pulpit 55 years and currently serves as pastor at High Shoals Baptist Church).
The religious upbringing has served Ingle well; actually, it has served the people of Lincoln County, and excellently at that. Indeed, it is just one hallmark of Ingle Builders, Inc.
â€œOnce we build a house, we take care of them from now on,â€ says Ingle, speaking of homeowners who have purchased houses constructed by Ingleâ€™s firm. The service he provides in the after-sales realm exceeds what a home buyer might get from a home owners warranty (HOW) many builders offer.
â€œIf something is wrong, it gets fixed at no charge,â€ he says.
That service isnâ€™t limited, adding that includes something that develops several years after the house has been occupied. It can include repairs or changes.
â€œThe main thing is, people want something fixed or done to the house no one else can or will do for them,â€ says Ingle.
Itâ€™s all part of the philosophy he brings to home construction, a trade heâ€™s plied since 1978, but which dates back several years earlier, when as a high school student, he took part in East Lincoln High Schoolâ€™s Trade and Industry curriculum, then taught by George Dellinger, the current president of Lincoln County Schools board of education.
As a result, Dellinger lined up a job for Ingle upon graduation as a carpenter of Ken Dellinger Builders (the two Dellingers are not related, according to Ingle). After five years, Ingle and a partner opened Chapman and Ingle Remodeling, which operated for three years. In 1986, Ingle branched out on his own.
Over the years, Ingle has seen improvements in the home building industry, much of it to do with materials.
â€œWe do use a lot more engineered wood,â€ he says. He points to dimensional lumber 2 x 10 for floor systems, which is now engineered as an I-joint, as an example. Itâ€™s more expensive, and if thereâ€™s any cost savings, itâ€™s to be found in labor, but regardless the cost, for the homeowner, itâ€™s worth it.
â€œAnother thing weâ€™re doing are house wraps,â€ he says. â€œHelps with energy bills.â€
Thatâ€™s not all thatâ€™s new.
â€œWeâ€™re now into developing. Thatâ€™s new for us,â€ he says. â€œItâ€™s gotten to where the market has changed a lot. People moving in are looking for something soon.â€
Currently under construction are homes in Quinlan Estates (located off N.C. 150 several miles from where the new N.C. 16 is under construction).
The one trend Ingle does not like seeing is the influx of tract builders pouring into Lincoln County.
â€œThey donâ€™t do anything for Lincoln County,â€ he says. â€œNo employees, no subs (meaning subcontractors), no supplies.â€ Ingle added that local contractors/builders contribute other benefits to the community, such as scholarships.
To him itâ€™s a bane to the local industry and it is in stark contrast to what local contractors provide, such as keeping Lincoln County dollars in Lincoln County. As this yearâ€™s president of the Lincoln County Homebuilders Association, he speaks for all associate builders.
â€œWe donâ€™t feel like weâ€™re competitors. Weâ€™re in this together,â€ he says. â€œAnything we can do to help the county.â€
Ingle says that in the final analysis, tract builders are going to force a number of local contractors/builders out of business.
by Steve Steiner