Scottsdale-based Cullum Homes just surpassed $100 million in annual revenue — the first time the custom homebuilder has broken past the $100 million annual revenue mark.
“We have sold $100 million year to date, which is five times a normal year over the last 10 years,” said Rod Cullum, co-founder and CEO of Cullum Homes. “In 2012, we did $10 million in sales for the entire year.”
In 2010, Cullum took a huge risk when he decided to build luxury speculative homes — as the Phoenix economy was just starting to heal from the Great Recession.
“Nobody was doing luxury spec homes at the time, let alone an entire new development,” Cullum said.
At the time, builders and developers were still licking their wounds, wondering why Cullum Homes would take such a risk.
“It was scary,” he concedes. “But we had an opportunity through a bank that had taken over that project. They made us a pretty good deal, but they told us they wouldn’t loan us any more to build houses.”
A couple of former custom home customers loaned him the money to begin building spec homes north of Lincoln Drive at 39th Street in Paradise Valley.
Called The Village of Paradise Reserve, this project marked Cullum’s entry into spec building. Before that, Cullum Homes focused on custom homes and one-of-a-kind estate homes.
Just as the furniture was supposed to be delivered for the two model homes were being unveiled for 300 real estate agents, Cullum heard that the furniture company, Robb & Stucky, had just filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
He and his wife and fellow co-founder, Kim, weren’t sure if they would be getting any furniture for their grand opening.
“I remember Kim and I standing on the back patio of one of the models, and here comes a Robb & Stucky truck pulling through the gate. We were scrambling minutes before the party started but we got it done,” he recalled.
Sure enough, the weekend the models opened, Cullum sold two homes.
“The market was still just recovering, and everyone was from the Show Me state of Missouri,” he said. “They had to touch it, feel it and believe it before they bought it.”
Finally, the last of those 46 homes sold this month.
Fast forward to 2021 at Cullum’s newest project Ascent at The Phoenician, where 14 of the 51 homes have sold within the past five months.
“We haven’t really gone to market yet; we don’t have a model built,” he said. “But we’re not being too aggressive.”
Generating $100 million in revenue over the past eight months has been “numbing,” Cullum said.
“I’m sitting in Park City enjoying the cool weather,” said Cullum, who is having a home built for him and Kim.
Over the years, the Cullums have had 13 homes built for themselves.
“We’re living in the 13th home and in the process of building the 14th and 15th home,” Cullum said. “We’re doing another house up here at Park City.”
Lindsay Cullum-Colwell said she’s not having any homes built for her and her husband Paul.
“One family at a time,” she said. “Eventually, we’ll do that. Right now we have a wait list. It’s very humbling.”
Scott Grigg, founder of The Grigg’s Group who is responsible for all the Cullum Homes sales, said sales for the Ascent at The Phoenician are taking off faster than sales for Paradise Reserve for many reasons.
The Phoenician location is one reason, he said.
Plus, the new homeowners will have access to the hotel amenities of The Phoenician, offering a luxury lifestyle, Grigg said.
“We’re doing something unique in there that the other builders aren’t: We are offering a true custom home experience, where they don’t have to buy off a floor plan,” he said. We are creating a true design custom hoe for them based upon the lot and views that lot has to offer. We’re here to design a home around their needs. Most builders won’t even move a window for you.”
And now that sales are underway at Ascent at The Phoenician, Cullum is embarking on another project.
Called Sanctuary on Black Mountain, that project will feature seven mountainside lots in an electronically gated community in Carefree.