After 35 years, John Brink Construction has a new name. As of this summer, the seven-person, Tahoe City, Calif.–based business is known as Brink Custom Homes, reflecting its rededication to the work John Brink has always loved doing: building (and remodeling) custom residences of the highest possible quality.
At the height of the housing boom, Brink’s company had grown to 80 employees, including a separate cabinet business. He found himself spending more time administrating than working directly on projects. “As we grew, there was a layer of project managers between myself and the client,” he says. “Now, we’re getting back to the old model of really strong superintendents running the process. I’m working more closely with the homeowners, architects, and designers. In essence, I’m sort of a project manager myself.” He sold the cabinet company in 2010 to focus exclusively on houses and, as he puts it, “get back to our values.”
The majority of Brink’s projects follow the “Old Tahoe” style of architecture, with heavy timbers, steep roof peaks, and lots of wood and stone. The structurally strong style suits local seismic and snow-load requirements, and fits in well with the area’s existing buildings. Brink also has noticed a recent trend toward a more streamlined look. “It’s a little more of an urban contemporary feel, but still blending in woods and natural products.” He particularly enjoys working with salvaged or recycled materials. And he’s seen a shift lately toward somewhat smaller homes than in the past—spurred, he believes, by clients’ desire for lower-maintenance lifestyles.
No matter the size or style, Brink says custom homes in general are becoming more complex to put together, taking into account the latest mechanical systems, home technology, building codes, and structural engineering requirements. “We’re starting to see clients who are seeking out our kind of experience,” he says. He’s on a mission to use technology to foster communication with his clients, who often live full time in other areas. It’s all part of the successful recalibration of Brink Custom Homes. “For myself, I’ve gotten back to my passion,” Brink says. “I love the building process. It excites me to focus on where the company is going in the future.”
Brink Custom Homes / Tahoe City, Calif. / www.johnbrinkconstruction.com / Years in business: 35 / Employees: 7 / 2011 volume: $2.5 million / 2011 starts: 4