When considering the recipient of the Business of the Year in the Greater Lansing area, judges search for a company that’s roots go deeper than simple economic success or profit margins. Entrepreneurship is most recognized in the ability to overcome what seems impossible, to develop accomplishments with tenacity and purpose. Mayberry Homes was named Business of the Year at the 2018 Entrepreneurial Awards, as they continue to transform the meaning of home ownership and community in our local neighborhoods.
Founded by Karen and Robert Schroeder, Mayberry Homes is a family-oriented business that aims to ensure the home buying experience is rewarding and gratifying for those who take the leap. Robert came from a family homebuilding company, while Karen came from a background in housing sales and marketing. With their wealth of experiences, they found the early 2000s were the perfect time to pool their talents and hit the ground running.
“We felt like there was a bit of a gap in the housing product available for the Greater Lansing area. We felt something was missing, and we wanted to fill that with something a little cooler, something that could disrupt the marketplace a bit,” Karen said. “So, in 2002, we joined forces and opened Mayberry Homes.”
In the last five years, Mayberry Homes has been ranked among the top 200 builders in the country according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), building 150-200 houses per year. Between changing housing product to meet the market and acting as an employer, Karen credits business growth and future success with taking a careful look at what’s going on across the country and applying those strengths to the local marketplace.
Mayberry Homes isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, thanks in part to the tenacity of the company. Before the Great Recession in the late 2000s that critically affected the housing industry, Karen recalls the hustle to re-engineer products and zero in on first-time homebuyers, who were the only people who were likely to get a mortgage and have no prior house to sell.
At a 2007 meeting, Karen asked an NAHB economist what his best advice was for a Michigan-based company, in lieu of a chart at the time that showed the Great Lakes State as one of worst states to be hit by the recession at the time. The economist’s response was one word: move.
“That was a turning point for me. That was a turning point for Mayberry, and my husband was magnificent. He said, ‘We have to change our product and do it in 30 days.’ That was the only way we were able to stay afloat,” Karen said. “I am so incredibly grateful for the changes that we made because we did not have to lay off one employee. Bob and I took a huge step back, especially financially, but kept the company rolling. We did what we had to do and fought the big fight.”
Mayberry Homes continues to provide innovative community interactions. Through transformations in the way people integrate technology into their homes to promoting graciousness and collaboration that creates strong neighborhoods, the business couple certainly has their hands full at most times.
“There’s no balance as to what’s work and what’s life. We live, breathe, eat and sleep Mayberry Homes. Our workers are our family,” said Karen. “We think the same of our homeowners and think so highly of them; without them, we would not survive.”
Karen and Robert find winning the 2018 Greater Lansing Business of the Year Award to be incredibly humbling, as well as a testament that however they make it work; they are on the right path to go even further in their quest to engage communities and make the home buying experience a special one.
“I think people who are entrepreneurs, have (passion) in their blood. I couldn’t imagine an entrepreneur staying in an eight to five job at a desk somewhere. We still have a life, but it circles back through Mayberry Homes,” said Karen. “Even when it comes to our immediate family, Christmases, Thanksgiving dinners — several of our kids work for us, relatives have and do work for us. Whatever we’re doing, it circles back and is a part of who we are. I think that just comes with the territory.”