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Closing The Loop: Building A Future In Jacksonville

Creative Commons

Mike Taylor is a homebuilder and contractor who’s originally from Atlanta. He came here in 1998 to help develop Palencia and currently calls Jacksonville his home.

“Back in the boom days, I was recruited by a firm out of Atlanta that wanted to start a home-building division in Jacksonville," he said. "Because I had been in home-building in Atlanta, they gave me a great opportunity, and I moved here in 2005."

Taylor secured a number of properties to start a business. But then, he said, the owner realized that the market falling out, so the business was shut down within the first year.

"He transferred me to Atlanta to run that division," he said. "I worked there for two and a half years, and then the market continued to decline, and I moved back to Jacksonville.”

The decline of the homebuilding market was not a surprise to the real estate industry. For many, it was a disaster that occurred in slow motion, the way that time slows down in the seconds before an auto accident.

“We realized that when we saw a lot of for-sale signs popping up in brand-new neighborhoods," he said. "What we found from research was that a lot of these investors were buying these single-family homes to flip, but they couldn’t do that because there was so much inventory in the market.

"We were very fortunate to get out before it got even worse.”

Taylor took a business development job for a construction company in Jacksonville. His clients were developers of apartments and other multi-family units throughout the Southeast.

"We saw success from 2008 until 2010 because we had a lot of projects that were under construction," he said. "... But in 2010, the banking fiasco hit the skids. The developers that we were courting put the projects on hold, and in April 2011, I left that company. We didn’t have any work.”

Mike returned to what he knew best, which was construction, and formed a small business, doing home remodeling and insurance repairs.

“I’m a third-generation home builder, so I’ve had a lot of hands-on experience, coming up in the family building single-family homes," he said. "Having the skill set, it was a natural thing for me to jump into.”

Mike’s contacts proved useful.

“Our business is developed by reputation," he said. "When I jumped out on my own, a lot of my close friends knew of people who wanted to add on to their houses, add on to their commercial properties. I got started through word of mouth.”

In 2013, when this interview was first done, Taylor thought he was not likely to be an employee of someone else again.

“Having a small business has its challenges, but it’s very rewarding," he said. "... Hopefully, this will be a long-term career for me.”

The restoration company ultimately did not work out for Taylor. He went back to building custom, high-end homes for a developer in South Florida. While he’s not certain if he wants to own a business again, he’s confident of skills and experience in homebuilding.

Warren Miller is a writer and financial executive who lives near St. Augustine, Florida.