Ed Burr builds an empire here
* by Michele Newbern Gillis
Ed Burr is building a golf community empire in North Florida.
“If you totaled all of our units, we certainly dominate this market,” said Burr, president and CEO of LandMar Group, LLC. “I don’t think there is any other developer our size who develops that many lots.”
His developments are spread all throughout Duval, St. Johns and Nassau counties, as well as Palm Coast. Now, the company has stepped over into Georgia.
“We have not had any unsuccessful communities,” said Burr. “We’ve been able to look ahead with foresight in areas that were not yet ready for development and secure land positions that helped us to be successful.”
The LandMar golf roster is strong: North Hampton in Nassau County, South Hampton in St. Johns County, Grand Haven in Palm Coast, Osprey Cove in South Georgia. Negotiations are underway to buy at least one more prominent property.
“We have been able to secure positions and land in the paths of growth that have helped us be successful,” said Burr. “We will continue trying to do that. We like large projects where we can develop a true sense of community, set aside land for natural amenities and create recreational amenities for our target market.”
He said they are always looking for large scale, community-driven projects to do, primarily in the Northeast Florida.
“Our growth will be driven by opportunity,” said Burr. “We have never said we are going to develop so many lots next year or that we have to make a certain amount of dollars or that we want to be anything other than available to opportunities. The opportunities to grow are not limited to Florida or Georgia only. We would like to grow regionally, but we will probably stay in the southeast.”
LandMar recently purchased Osprey Cove, a 900-lot golf course community in Georgia.
“It has been well maintained but not marketed very well,” said Burr, “We are going to continue with the change that they started heading toward and market it. It will be a good compliment to our Grand Haven Community.”
In addition to Osprey Cove, the major residential communities owned by LandMar Group, LLC are North Hampton with 600 lots, South Hampton with 800, Hampton Park with 350 (but no golf course) and Grand Haven with 1,800.
Big names are on the golf courses, too: Jack Nicklaus designed Grand Haven, Arnold Palmer/Ed Seay did North Hampton and Mark McCumber did both South Hampton and Osprey Cove.
Burr said his company always ends up with some commercial land after a residential deal.
“It’s not unusual for us to end up with a large tract of land,” said Burr. “We permit it and zone it for multi-use projects and then sell it off for commercial development.”
“We’ve been very blessed,” said Burr. “It is a reflection really of two things, one is where we live. I mean we live in one of the greatest areas in the all of the country and it’s getting discovered more and more. That certainly helps us with the foundation for our growth opportunities. The other thing is the great staff that I have here to help build LandMar Group.”
Burr said that the growth of his company reflects the growth of the area.
“We have grown in multiples,” he said. “It’s been a real good story. I’ve always wanted to have a company that was large enough to serve its community and its employees no matter what happened to me. It isn’t a company where there is just Ed Burr and if something happened to Ed Burr, there wouldn’t be a company. I think today, LandMar Group would survive and continue its great traditions long after I was gone.”
He said longevity of the company is very important.
“That is an important fact, not only for the buyers in our communities to know that the developer is going to be around for awhile, but for the employees and the staff here know that the company is going to be around for awhile,” said Burr. “It’s nice when people who come to work here can have confidence that LandMar Group will be here for many years to come.”
Burr started LandMar Group, LLC in 1988, putting together typical housing developments.
“Growth was steady until we faced a tough market in the early 1990s,” said Burr. “After my wife was killed in an automobile accident,) we sort of retreated for awhile. Since 1997, we’ve had pretty good growth.”
Burr said combining with Crescent Resources (a subsidiary of Duke Energy) in 1999 helped their company a tremendous amount. Crescent Resources finances all his projects and has a board of directors which reviews all projects.
His secret for success is a combination of a few things.
“Surrounding yourself with good people is important,” said Burr.
And his number one man is, indeed, important: he’s M.G. Orender, a golf professional who is next in line to be president of the PGA of America. He’s backed with a strong staff at the company’s Southpoint headquarters.
“Also, our principles from the beginning have been consistent in that we try to deliver more in terms of value and quality of our communities than people expect. We take a lot of pride in the quality of what we do. We often say that it’s not only what we do, but how we do business that is important.
“We have had a straightforward, unique and honest approach from the day we started this business to make sure that when our projects were consumer and market driven and that we delivered more than people expected when they bought in our communities.”
Burr said that the company’s principles have helped guide them through the tough times, when times were very lean and helped them survive when other companies didn’t survive. Also, when times were good, he said, they helped them grow a lot faster than other companies could grow.
“The commitment to our community has always been a strong part of LandMar,” said Burr. “The support of what makes this community beautiful and strong which includes our commitment to natural resources and preservation of natural amenities in our communities helps set us apart. I just think it is an overall comprehensive approach to commitment to quality, natural resources and to our community in terms of doing business that has helped guide us though the years and helped us to be successful.”