Adventure Homes LLC
- Written by: Jeanee Dudley
- Produced by: Christian Davis
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
Adventure Homes LLC (Adventure) was founded in August 2009 by Walter Comer and two partners out of a former Fleetwood plant in Garrett, Ind. “About four-and-a-half years ago, Fleetwood filed bankruptcy,” explains Comer. “We built single-wides and double-wides. The other partners and I stepped in to buy the plant.”
The company has since grown to become a major manufacturer for HUD homes and modular buildings. With 130 employees, Adventure still operates from its original location: a 105,000-square-foot manufacturing plant with 12,000 square feet of office space in Garrett.
Comer and his team have put major internal management into play in order to expand in such a short time. His experience is unique; however, it has informed his leadership style. Backed by years of business experience and a dedication to hard work and service, Comer actually began his career in pharmaceuticals.
“It was a job offer out of college,” he explains. “Then I met a guy driving around a brand-new Corvette. He told me what he did and what he made, then, soon enough, he set me up with an interview. They offered me a job and moved me to Oregon to work for Redman Homes.”
Growing Through the Recession
Now, 40 years later, Comer’s business is on the rise. “We compete very well with the big guys,” he explains. “We are competing against the stick-builder. Our lower costs, lower overhead and great products set us apart. People buy our stuff and they can’t believe what they can buy for the price they pay, because we don’t compromise quality for cost. Our customers are anyone who is looking for housing that might consider themselves a buyer of affordable housing. We’re not going into neighborhoods with $250,000 or $500,000 homes. We go for the little customers that need affordable and quality housing. I sell to dealers, and then my dealers sell to the public.”
According to Comer, Adventure started in the worst of times. “We started when the industry was down,” he explains. “In ’99 we built 300,000 homes and last year it was 50,000 nationally. We started in the most difficult business time for this housing. In 2009, we did around $12 million and this year we will do north of $25 million. The product is successful. Now we are expanding into the modular business, competing with stick builds. We are getting into apartment buildings, as well. This business has really evolved.”
Despite the many obstacles presented, Comer and the Adventure team were able to prevail. “The best part is a couple wealthy guys put their resources behind it and it has been a huge success,” Comer says proudly. “We will always be in the HUD business, but we are expanding into other areas. With modular construction, we are seeing a lot more business in that field. Right now, the fact that we are privately owned makes us fortunate. We kept everybody we had working here when we bought it, our costs are low and we build a great product at a lower price.”
Much of Adventure’s business is in community building, specifically mobile home and modular neighborhoods. Comer goes on to note that Detroit has become a growing market, as well as the growing economic regions surrounding oil fields in Montana and North Dakota.
“We are developing modular product, as well as producing mobile housing there,” Comer elaborates. “The oil field areas are trying to get a handle on their growth. They don’t want to build any more man camps, so we are developing housing for them, including single-family homes and apartment complexes. One of our projects is a 300-unit housing project. They are looking to build up the infrastructure, as well, which has been a good project for us. We are doing our first Laundromat for that area. The oil development area has been a big boom for the industry.”
The incoming work in the oil field region has created a major boom for the Adventure team. “Oil companies have money to burn,” Comer explains. “They need to find houses for their people when they strike oil. They want housing at a reasonable rate, but they are not trying to pound you in the ground. They are prepared to pay a fair price and pay it quickly. The oil companies have been great customers with cash that are willing to get the product over a reasonable amount of time.”
With the ability to produce everything in-house, Adventure has built a strong production line. The company purchases frames, tires and axels from consistent, high-quality suppliers, and builds up everything from the floor to the cabinets, all details included. The hard work and systematic approach is paying off, as Comer and his team foresee the economy turning around.
“In the last year we are seeing much more in the way of upgrades,” he notes. “We are doing paint, appliances, shelving, bathroom details and such with $10,000 to $12,000 in options. We haven’t seen that in four or five years. That shows the economy is going up. My average cost per floor has gone up dramatically. That is great to see. It shows that the banks are willing to lend and people are willing to spend.”
Comer has big plans for the future. “Over the next couple of years, I see us increasing in size,” he continues. “We are looking at building another plant or two. We should be expanding our abilities to include more commercial building, such as apartments and townhomes. We will always be in housing, but we are growing more and more into general construction. The growth in the company will come from diversifying our modular work.” As the market continues to flourish, Adventure Homes LLC is launching into a future of growth from a steady foundation.
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