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Chad Weaver: A second-generation builder of the Epcon lifestyle
Pittsburgh, PA | 09.19.17
Bill and Bonnie Weaver began building homes in the North Hills of Pittsburgh in 1986. That same year, Ed Bacome and Phil Fankhauser launched Epcon Communities.
The two homebuilding companies aligned in 1999 when Weaver Homes became an Epcon Franchise Builder. While the Weavers were launching their first low-maintenance Epcon community, their only offspring, Chad, was in the midst of making a big change, too.
Chad Weaver went in pursuit of his lifelong dream of becoming an airline pilot. He quit his construction job in San Diego and moved to Orlando to finish flight school. He earned his licenses and ratings, and was hired by a regional airline. And he met his wife, Tracey.
Then, 9/11 struck. The devastation that shook the country also nearly crippled the airline industry. After five years of sitting as a first officer on a commuter jet with slim hopes of reaching the heights he had hoped for, in 2005, Chad decided to stay on the ground.
He picked the ground near his parents. Chad is now Vice President of Construction for Weaver Homes. Having earned his college degree in Construction Management from Bowling Green State University in 1995, and spent five years building apartments and hotels prior to joining the airlines, he came into the business with a strong foothold.
Epcon has become a large part of Weaver Homes. With the unique topography in western Pennsylvania, the Weavers mainly build Epcon’s attached models, the Canterbury and Abbey floor plans. Chad estimates that about 75% of the 80 homes they build each year are in their Epcon Communities, including Scenic Ridge, The Glen at Woodside, The Glen at Woodside, and The Courtyards at Krendale. Several other of the Weaver Homes’ Epcon Communities are sold out.
“We don’t take on a project unless it makes sense,” Chad says. “We look at the surrounding area and the existing hgousing stock. We’ve passed on sites when we didn’t believe the location was absolutely ideal based on the current home values in a given area.”
Brett Schultz, the “Land Guy” at Weaver Homes does extensive study of the property. He and Chad work closely together to help create the vision for the new community. They often integrate detached and single-family homes within a neighborhood.
“It’s nice that Epcon lets you mix and match. Some townships don’t want you to build all attached homes, so we can add a street or cul-de-sac with detached homes, which also gives our sales people more opportunities to work with different types of homebuyers.”
These buyers usually come from the same area as the Epcon Community they’re considering.
“We put a pin on a map where the proposed community will be located, draw a five-mile radius around it, and that’s where most of the buyers come from,” Chad explains. “They want to move to a low-maintenance home but they don’t want to leave what’s familiar, like their family, friends, church, and even the post office.”
Chad appreciates the connection with the Epcon family. “They continually update and upgrade the floor plans, and even if we don’t take advantage of every new floorplan, it’s nice to know they’re staying ahead.” He welcomes the support from the corporate team, as well as the ability to reach out to other Franchise Builders to share ideas and ask questions.
“I like to say it’s a ‘loosely knit family’, because Epcon gives you some leeway. If you need something, they’re there to help. If you’re a new builder and unfamiliar with the product, this is the company to join.”
Although Chad is no longer a commercial pilot, he still takes flight. He bought his first plane six years ago, and upgraded to a bigger one this year. His parents split their time between Pittsburgh and Florida, so he flies them back and forth. He also uses his skills and plane to volunteer for Angel Flight, a non-profit program that offers free flights for people with medical issues who can’t afford commercial airfare to their treatments or for medical emergencies.
He also coaches his two sons’ ice hockey teams, while Tracey cheers loudly from the stands. Another generation of Weaver Homes in the making? Maybe.
Chad has a very basic philosophy about carrying on the Weaver family tradition with this business. “I read an article that claims only 10% of second generation businesses succeed, so my job is to build upon what my mother and father started and don’t screw it up for what I hope will be a third generation business.”