Dennis Ginder knew he couldn’t just retire and hang up his construction hard hat.
Last September, the now 47-year-old married father of three sold his stake in Landon Homes, a Jacksonville-based homebuilding company that Ginder founded in 2012 with Jesse Killebrew and Chester Stokes.
After leaving Landon, it took Ginder about a month before he decided that sitting around wasn’t right for him. Therefore, he kicked off a new homebuilding company, Encore Homes.
“It didn’t take me long to realize I wasn’t going to do nothing,” he said. “So within 30 days, by the end of October, we were out and off to the races.”
Ginder has worked in the industry for more than 25 years, starting out as an estimator in college. He joked that he began his career by sweeping out homes and doing the normal odd, dirty jobs that no one else wanted to do.
He graduated from the University of North Florida with a degree in construction management.
Over that quarter century, Ginder said he has been privileged to get experience in “almost every part of the industry,” including construction, sales and land development.
That’s why Ginder couldn’t see himself doing anything else.
“I really enjoy building homes,” he said. “This company (Encore) is based on the same principles when we started Landon. It’s about building a good house and listening to customers.”
Encore’s customer base is homebuyers in the $250,000 to $600,000 range, Ginder said, but that they aren’t limiting themselves to that price point.
He said business is brisk with 11 homes under construction.
Ginder isn’t new to Jacksonville, either. He’s been here since his family relocated from Illinois when he was 3 years old. He attended public schools in Duval County before he made his way to UNF.
Unlike starting Landon with other partners, Ginder is the sole founder of Encore, financing the venture on his own. He said he has capital for “startup and land and a credit line with Fidelity for vertical construction.”
Several months after Ginder left, Landon Homes was acquired by national builder KB Home.
Ginder brought a few former Landon employees with him, hiring them to work in Encore’s office on Historic Kings Road South near the corner of Philips Highway and Sunbeam Road. The company has five full-time staff members, including Ginder.
Ginder’s goals and hopes for Encore is to do things “a little bit different and a little bit better” than every other homebuilder out there. He said that’s accomplished by “listening better to customers” and understanding how meaningful a home purchase is for most buyers.
“Home is where you’re safe. Home is where you live. Even the word ‘home’ itself has a good connotation,” he said. “That is a pretty impactful thing that you do for people. I don’t think I’ve ever lost that perspective.”
He said that he and the many others at Landon earned that reputation and that he plans to focus on doing the same thing at Encore.
His strategy is “simply to be the best at creating a great homebuilding experience and (build) obviously high-quality homes at the same time.”