Harry L. "Chip" Lundy has long been an influence in homebuilding in Columbia.
His 20-year-old Williamsburg Group has for 19 years walked away with top awards from the Home Builders Association of Maryland. Lundy founded not only Williamsburg, but three other companies - Columbia Builders, Hallmark Builders and Patriot Homes - that have built in Columbia and Howard County over the years.
Williamsburg is running at a steady pace, completing approximately one house each week, and Lundy, 62, is preparing the company to carry on when he retires. Although the company has concentrated on the single-family homes in Howard County, it recently has begun to expand its products and its borders.
"We've built some adult homes and townhouses. We're looking to take that operation into Prince George's [County]," Lundy said. "We're trying to expand from Howard to Prince George's, Montgomery and maybe Anne Arundel, and build different products."
Lundy has not said when he intends to retire, although he has made it clear to his four vice presidents at Williamsburg that he does not want to overstay his welcome. The vice presidents, Lundy's daughter among them, are increasingly taking stronger leadership roles in the company, he said, and he expects them to decide among themselves who will take over.
The company builds about 50 homes a year and has revenue of about $30 million, Lundy said. The revenue and number of homes sold have remained at that level for the past four of five years, he said. The homes - usually traditionally styled single-family dwellings on quarter-acre to 3-acre lots - range in price from $400,000 to $1.5 million. Buyers often customize several options within the house, and those buyer-led changes often have been ones that helped the company gain recognition, Lundy said.
But it is Lundy's longevity that has made him an influence in the local industry, according to John E. Kortecamp, executive vice president and chief executive officer of the Home Builders Association of Maryland.
"Chip has had a significant and longstanding impact on the building industry, and on the county in general," Kortecamp said. The company has been honored for 19 years "in a variety of different categories because he's good. I suspect there are people who have a strong record [of winning], but I don't know if it's that strong."
Although including adult communities and town homes to the product mix might seem a departure from the single-family format that has made Williamsburg successful, it is not the first time Lundy has ventured beyond single-family homes.
In 1991, he formed Patriot Homes with partner Rick Kunkle to pursue the townhouse and smaller single-family home market. The company built up to 400 houses a year in its early years, and the two sold it last year to Lennar Corp.
But the moves the company makes in coming years will rely less on Lundy's input and more on the vision of the vice presidents, he said. "I think young people make the company," he said. "I think we ought to let younger people take the company in the direction they want to go in."