The MacDonald Companies: Building Affordable Homes, Not Just Housing
- Written by: The MacDonald Companies: Building Affordable Homes, Not Just Housing
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The MacDonald family has been building homes for Texans for over a half-century. What started out as a small family-run custom home building enterprise has grown to be one of Texas’ largest low-income multifamily neighborhood builders. Still run by the same family, the MacDonald Companies are a group of affiliated organizations now active in more than 20 cities and towns throughout the state, where they maintain a strong focus on the highest-quality, most affordable options in multifamily living. The philosophy to combine affordable lifestyles and community values has remained the same since Jean and George MacDonald founded the MacDonald Companies.
“Jean MacDonald was really the driving force behind the company from the early 1970s on. It was she who identified the multifamily housing market as a place of opportunity for us and who led the company to pursue multifamily rental housing,” says Justin MacDonald, the MacDonald Companies executive vice president and Jean and George’s grandson.
Today, Justin and his father G. Granger MacDonald, the MacDonald Companies president, lead the Kerrville-based companies. The MacDonald Companies cover all aspects of the multifamily housing market from development to financing to operations. Within the MacDonald brand there is G.G. MacDonald Inc., the general contracting arm of the MacDonald Companies , and MacDonald & Associates Inc., which handles the operational aspect of the business.
The MacDonald Standard
The MacDonald Companies’ commitment stems from the MacDonald family’s belief that all families deserve not just a house, but also a home. And the Lone Star State owes much to the MacDonalds, beginning with Jean, who was the first woman to be inducted into the Texas Housing Hall of Honor and also served as president of the Home Builders Association of Greater Austin and as director of the Texas Association of Builders. However, building prestigious neighborhoods simply wasn’t enough for the MacDonald family. Jean also served on the Board of Directors of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas to champion the rights of all Texans to affordable housing.
In 2007 the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) likewise honored Granger for his own contributions to affordable housing. The Robert J. Corletta Award was presented to Granger for his efforts to ensure that affordable housing remains a top priority at both the state and federal level. Participation in local, state and national homebuilders associations sits at the core of the MacDonald Companies’ activity and identity. Granger is currently the past president of the Texas Association of Builders (TAB), serves at the national level as chairman of BUILD-PAC, and remains very involved in the NAHB. Justin is a second-time president of the Hill Country Home Builders Association, and a member of the Executive Committee of TAB. Both Granger and Justin are on the board of all three organizations.
It is in the honor of this heavily involved MacDonald tradition that the current MacDonald management continues to conduct business today, developing, financing and building premier affordable housing units across Texas, specifically for rural areas and underserved housing markets. “Our focus on second- and third-tier markets really sets us apart from the major multifamily developers in the state, specifically because we are not developing in any of the major cities,” asserts Justin. Instead, the MacDonald Companies focus on providing housing that meets federal tax incentive provisions for families who only make 60 percent of the median income.
The MacDonald Companies rely upon a trusted network of subcontractors to secure fair pricing and keep construction costs down. Historically speaking, the MacDonald Companies have not always worked with subcontractors, and at one point much of the construction work was carried out with in-house labor. As the company has seen, however, fairly priced labor is one of the only benefits to a soft economy and the switch was made decades ago to ensure quality work wherever the company chose to build.
Promoting a Better Way to Operate
Balance is the name of the game in the multifamily market, and the MacDonald family works hard to strike the perfect balance between home size, market demand and affordability. The past few years have seen an increase in the demand for multifamily housing, especially in federally incentivized developments, but as unemployment rises simultaneously it is trickier than ever to operate the same developments.
“Our focus is always to build in the range of 80 to 120 units, because larger developments are simply too large for the rural communities we serve,” expands Justin. While occupancy rates regularly rise in the MacDonald Companies developments, delinquency rates have recently risen alongside unemployment, and the MacDonald Companies understand the hardships of stressed finances. Instead of taking a hardline approach, the company strives to work with tenants and develop a mutually satisfactory solution to ensure tenants are held responsible for unpaid rent without unfair treatment.
As the economy slowly speeds up again and local construction markets see a little more action, the MacDonald Companies will continue its proactive approach to business. “Our backlog usually spans back at least 18 months, but we’re always looking for new projects to put into the works,” says Justin. Throughout all efforts the MacDonald Companies’ teams will carefully monitor new developments on a weekly and bi-weekly basis to ensure projects go according to plan. Armed with comprehensive capabilities and a compassionate attitude, the MacDonald family is sure to lead the MacDonald Companies to the next era of affordable multifamily residential construction, setting further standards for the next 50 years.
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