When it's time to choose a new home construction company, it's important to know the type of company you'll be working with. The history of HCI may not reach back decades, but our values, ethics and working relationships speak volumes. Please continue reading to learn how and why Jason "Tug" Huddleston started HCI.Get Started
The Beginning of Something Great
After high school, I went straight into the workforce working as an electrical apprentice, and enrolled in the Santa Fe electrical program, which in a nutshell was 4 years of night school.
After I graduated from the program, I quickly moved up the ladder in that field and found myself as the service manager at a mid-size electrical company in Gainesville. Soon after all of this, I met my dream girl and the one I had been praying for for many years. We met in January of ’05 and were married in June of ’05.
So, as she and I began to plan our life and long-term goals, the question of a career was on the table. I asked my boss at the time to sit down and have a chat about my long-term plan with the company so we could begin planning for the future. Long story short, he said there was no plan and I was likely topped out in pay. I immediately put him on notice that I was actively looking for another job because I needed something bigger and better to work toward.
I soon found myself working with a mid-sized production builder in town. I worked with this team until the bottom fell out in ’07, finding myself with no job. As the walls were falling down around us, I asked my boss at the time if I could keep my cell phone number, which was a company number. He replied, “I don’t care what you keep.” So, I kept the number.
A few weeks went by and I started getting calls from homeowners that needed things done. Many requests were for warranty issues, punch list items, or just general maintenance that needed to be done like a loose door knob or minor cracks in the plaster. I assured these clients that I’d take care of them. It didn’t even cross my mind about having no obligation to do any of this work — I just felt like I was the superintendent, so I should take care of any issues that needed attention.
I didn’t think about it until later, when one of the realtors called and asked if I was doing this. I admitted that I was. Surprised at my response, she then asked why was I doing this while having no obligation to do so, and much less, why was I doing this at no charge? My answer was, “Why not?” She had a hard time believing someone would honor warranty work on homes he was only supervising. I told her it was just the right thing to do, and I didn’t think about that conversation again.
She had a hard time believing someone would honor warranty work on homes he was only supervising. I told her it was just the right thing to do.
— Tug Huddleston
A few months later, banks started calling me asking about unfinished houses and if I could finish them. My thought was, “Sure, why not?” At the same time, I had clients whose homes I had built, referring me and giving my number to friends and family to build and do remodel work for them. It became apparent very quickly that I had either a magic phone number or a reputation unlike I’d ever had before.
So, in late 2007, I sat for the State of Florida contractor’s exam, passed it, got my contractor license, and started HCI.
Since then, we have done over $10 million in business. We’ve built a couple dozen homes, completed hundreds of remodels, and employed a lot of people. As fate would have it, that boss who allowed me to keep those 7 digits, is now my right-hand man at HCI, and has been for nearly 5 years. He and I have an unbelievable working relationship like no other.
So, the moral of the story is this: Always treat everyone you meet, and know, as if they will be your next boss, and never take for granted 7 little numbers.