Passing on a family tradition

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  • | 12:00 p.m. March 14, 2005
  • Realty Builder
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by Michele Newbern Gillis

Staff Writer

Building must be in the blood of the Claxton family since most of the employees of Gene Claxton Custom Homes, Inc. are related.

Gene Claxton started the business in 1972, but has since retired and passed the business onto his daughter, Angela Claxton, who is now the president.

Angela and her dad became partners in 1996.

“My dad was going to close the business and I didn’t think it was a good idea, so I asked him to teach me the business,” she said.

She became a building contractor in 2000.

The company consists of Angela’s son, Judson Cutts, the vice president and superintendent; her brother, Steve Claxton, superintendent; daughter Tracy Cutts, who is managing the customer service; and Monica Maron, office manager who is not related, but is treated like family.

Gene Claxton Custom Homes are residential custom home builders.

“Most everything we do is brick,” said Angela. “We are concentrating on the northwest side of Jacksonville. We have a development out on the Northside called Smithsville Plantation. It’s a 28-lot gated community off Dunn Avenue.”

The company is also building in Confederate Crossing with 94 homes on west side of Jacksonville.

“We were the exclusive builder in Confederate Crossing for the first four years, and then they brought in other builders,” she said. “We are almost finished building in there.”

A new community they are getting ready to start on the Northside is the Jacksonville Ranch Club that will have 277 homes.

“It will be a new equestrian community opening in the spring of this year,” she said. “There are 277 units, but we are not committed for all of them. We are just one of the preferred builders.”

Though they are mostly on the Northside and Westside, Angela said her company will build anywhere the customer needs.

Since they are a small family-owned business, Angela said they are very customer focused.

“We hold their hand throughout the building process,” she said. “We have a set of plans. We have 10 or 15 models that we build regularly, but we will also take someone’s ideas and present them to our designer and have him develop a set of floor plans. We have standard floor plans, but then we will actually develop something that is specific to a client.”

After they choose a plan or develop their own, the customer chooses from various vendors to create a home specific to their wants and needs.

Claxton said they have been using the same group of subcontractors for a very long time.

“We are very loyal to our subcontractors,” she said. “We think that makes a better relationship and we get a much better quality product from subcontractors that we have been doing with for years and years.”

Claxton said Realtors are very important to the company and she doesn’t think they would survive without Realtor involvement.

“They bring us folks who want to build their own home or happen to see a piece of property that we have,” she said. “They are very important to us and we really like them.”

She said commissions are paid at the beginning of construction rather than at the end.

They build about 15-20 homes a year with price ranges from $250,000 to $350,000.

1ZeroC Realty Company is a new real estate company they started recently to market their product.

In addition to being president of her company, Angela is the chairman of the Clay Builders Council.

“Our major focus is to increase the attendance and involvement of the members,” said Angela. “We have a lot of members, but they aren’t attending any of the functions.”

They have a board meeting the first Wednesday of every month at Eagle Harbor and social events planned in conjunction with the Southwest Council of the Northeast Florida Association of Realtors.

Prior to getting into the building industry, Angela was an X-ray technician for 25 years.

“I got into the building business to spend more time with my father,” she said. “As he was working and I was riding around with him, I developed an interest in it. As I developed an interest in building, I developed a passion for it. I really should have been doing this all my life. It really gives me a lot of satisfaction.”

When she first started, she was regarded as “Daddy’s little girl” but, as she proved herself, that quickly changed.

“I started keeping them employed,” she said. “We started doing better. The company started growing and the subcontractors had more work. We helped them grow their business. We are very organized and disciplined. I worked side by side and hand in hand with those guys learning the business. I really learned the business on the job sites day after day when I started. I was there watching and learning their trade, which enabled me to learn my trade.”

In addition to Judson and Tracy, she has a daughter named Laura Cutts.

When she is not working, she enjoys fishing and attending family functions.

“I have worked for my family for almost 10 years, and it is wonderful,” she said.