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Mark Marquess has enjoyed building his family business.
Marquess, 62, is the CEO of Riverwood Homes in Fayetteville, which is riding the building boom in northwest Arkansas. Marquess said Riverwood closed on about 300 new home builds in 2021 and expects to build another 325 houses this year.
“We had a surprisingly great year,” Marquess said. “It definitely was a good year. It has been challenging, but we have a lot of people who want to get into homes.”
Marquess has been a builder and real estate developer for 40 years and started Riverwood in 2009. His mother, Linda, worked for the company’s real estate division and is now the broker emeritus, his son Taylor is the company’s construction president, and daughter Bailey is in line to run the real estate division.
The secret to Riverwood’s success is its ability to own, develop and build on its own lots. Riverwood’s target market is the buyer looking for a home in the $250,000 range.
To be able to sell and make a profit at such a modest price point — modest in red-hot northwest Arkansas — requires the total ownership of the homebuilding process. That has held true even as the prices for building material, everything from lumber to roofing to appliances, have risen significantly, along with labor costs.
“That is our whole focus, is to build for the masses,” Marquess said. “It sure is challenging. One of the key components for us being able to continue offering this opening price point is we have to be vertical. We have to self-develop all the land and the lots. We have to bring everything into the silo and utilize company assets to do it.”
Marquess said Riverwood Homes’ success has attracted the attention of larger building companies, but he and the family are content with staying independent.
“I’ve been building homes for over 40 years now,” Marquess said. “With Riverwood and the family coming into it, that is what keeps me going. It is really delightful to be able to work with my children. We are going to give our children the opportunity to grow it organically.”