Celebrating 10 years! It is with great honor that we announce yet another milestone in the history of MasterCraft Builder Group. April 1, 2021, marks our 10-Year Anniversary and we couldn’t be prouder to share with all of you what we’ve accomplished over those years. With close to 500 homes built over the past decade, we have proven time and time again a strong belief in our four pillars, which contribute to how we stand up against other homebuilders. Often referred to as the 4 C’s, MasterCraft offers Craftsmanship, Choice, Customer Service, and Community.
It All Started in The Trenches
Let’s take a look at how it all began! In the spring of 2009, MasterCraft founder, Chris Shee, found himself “unintentionally self-employed” when the building and real estate markets took a hit. “I was laid off from my employer during the depths of the recession,” Chris explains. “I decided that instead of seeking another employer, I was going to try this on my own. I did everything from listing homes to performing renovations to helping banks work out of distressed communities and assets. Being laid off turned out to be a huge blessing in disguise. Two years later, an opportunity arose for building a spec home and the rest is history.”
A relatively new but built-out master-planned residential community in Jacksonville named Bartram Springs had a lot for sale. The owner had a house fire and didn’t want to rebuild because of the painful memories attached to losing their family pets. Chris purchased the lot in February 2011 with his good friend Neill Singleton and they discussed eventually building a spec home on the lot. “Frankly, I didn’t have enough money to buy the lot and build a spec on my own, so Neill and I partnered in a new company called Phoenix Development of Northeast Florida – Phoenix-like ‘rising from the ashes.’”
Not long after, in the spring of 2011, Chris approached another close friend of his, Andy Chambers, who was also facing unemployment due to the recession, and asked Andy if he would have interest in building a spec home on the lot he purchased with Neill. Andy had recently formed a new company named MasterCraft Builder Group and was looking at several opportunities to build MasterCraft’s first home. “When I mentioned our lot to Andy, he was immediately interested and said he’d build the home for a $2,500 fee so that he could get his trade partners lined up and start getting processes in place. Discussions about what to build led to discussions about what we all wanted to do in the future. We began flirting with the idea of joining forces and building a company together.”
It’s wasn’t long after that another opportunity presented itself. Oddly enough, another home in the same neighborhood in Bartram Springs burned down, and, again, the owners didn’t want to rebuild. MasterCraft Builder Group purchased the lot and got to work building another spec home. “I said to Neill and Andy, ‘We all have something to bring to the table to get this company going,” Chris remembers. “My strengths lie more in sales, marketing, land acquisition, and land development. Andy’s strengths are in operations and construction. Neill has a financial background and is really great with loans and mortgages. Maybe together we could eventually build a dozen homes or so a year and make a decent income. So, we decided to give it a go and try to do what most people thought was crazy at the time—starting a home building company in the depths of a real estate depression and economic recession.”
From 1 to 500
On April 1, 2011, MasterCraft Builder Group was officially founded by Chris, Neill, and Andy. In their first year in business, the guys closed their very first home. In the second year, they built 20 homes – more than double what they originally expected or had hoped to accomplish in the first full year of operations. This year, we will close on our 500th home. “It’s exciting and humbling,” Chris admits. “Obviously, it’s a big benchmark. I’d say the feeling that’s the strongest is pride because every single home from the very first one in 2011 to today, I know it’s built well and will stand the test of time.”
A few years back, in 2018, Neill and Andy left the company to pursue other projects. Chris became the sole owner and has leaned on his brother, Brad Shee, who joined the company back in May of 2012 to help with various facets of business from selling to building to warranty, to help run the day-to-day operations. Brad now serves as the President and, along with some three dozen employees, makes sure that everything is running smoothly from contract to closing.
“I firmly believe that we are the best home builder in Northeast Florida,” Chris says proudly. “We have stayed true to who we are since the very beginning, from how we treat our customers, to how we build our homes, and how we give back to the community. The only thing that has changed is that we’ve gotten better at it and we’ve been able to give back more.”
Commitment to a Higher Standard
One of the defining features of any MasterCraft home is our Higher Standards. For a decade, Chris and the rest of our team have been picking out quality materials and building methods that most other builders consider “upgrades.” From solid core interior doors and an oversized laundry to family foyer drop zone and Samsung appliances, each one of our homes features dozens of Higher Standards. “We have always been a firm believer in using quality materials,” says Chris. “In fact, our motto was originally ‘Quality Meets Innovation’ which was created by Andy. A higher standard of craftsmanship was always our primary goal.”
We started this company because of our passion for building quality homes in the communities where we live, and a desire to provide customers with exceptional service. We try and do the right thing always with the knowledge that every customer is a potential neighbor and friend. We also believe in giving back to our community through a variety of philanthropic causes. Starting in 2012, our annual Clays for a Cause clay shooting fundraising event has raised nearly a million dollars for worthy causes around Northeast Florida.
“Year after year, I’m blown away by the generosity and willingness to serve those in need here at home,” Chris explains. “Clays for a Cause started as a fun, end-of-year activity for my employees and a few trade partners and has turned into a community-wide event focused on community, camaraderie, and charity.”
Over the past 10 years, with a focus on the 4 C’s; Craftsmanship, Choice, Customer Service, and Community, MasterCraft has grown from humble beginnings as an experimental business project among three friends to one of Northeast Florida’s premier home builders. Along the way, we’ve won numerous awards and accolades, welcomed dozens of team members that are really more like family members, and have been having an absolute blast through all of it! To everyone who read this, YOU are the reason why we’re celebrating 10 years and we couldn’t be more thankful!