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Higginbotham Bros. named one of `Big 50' remodelers

St. Louis Business Journal - by Terry Hillig

One of the St. Louis area's most-respected builders has received national recognition as one of the nation's top remodeling contractors.

Higginbotham Bros. Inc. was cited by Remodeling magazine in its May issue as one of the "Big 50" in the remodeling industry, an honor based on excellence in remodeling, smart business management, unique design and community impact.

"Age has definite benefits," the magazine said. "And Higginbotham Bros. has been around long enough to reap the wisdom of the years."

The company had its start in 1946, when Bruce Higginbotham and brothers Cameron and Richard, now deceased, began building houses in south St. Louis.

Bruce Higginbotham, 79, is semi-retired but remains active in the company, coming into the office almost daily when he's in town. His son, Kent, is president of the company and Bruce Korn, a former Colorado builder, is vice president. Bruce's sister, Elizabeth Higginbotham, manages the company's real estate activities.

The company now has its offices in Old Frontenac Square and concentrates most of its custom home and remodeling activities in Ladue, Frontenac, Town and Country and neighboring communities.

Higginbotham Bros. made a name for itself as a custom home builder with a reputation for quality that frequently prompts customers to mention the builder when they list a Higginbotham-built home for resale.

The list of satisfied customers includes Frank and Diana Sprich, whose home in Creve Coeur was built by the company.

"Their work is exemplary," Frank Sprich said. "You can't find anything else like it.

"Our house is as rock-solid as you will find. They do not cut corners. If something doesn't look right to them, they will tear it out and do it over."

Kent Higginbotham said the commitment to excellence carried over to the company's remodeling business. Higginbotham Bros. diversified into remodeling about 12 years ago when a stagnant real estate market caused many homeowners to decide to upgrade their existing homes rather than buy or build new ones.

"We enjoy it," Higginbotham said. "It's a challenge.

"Many of the homes we work on are traditional, classic homes. We try to keep the architecture in line with the original home rather than just slapping on an addition."

Remodeling now accounts for about 20 percent of the company's business. Higginbotham said a thorough knowledge of construction methods is important because detailed plans of the original construction often are unavailable. He said the company doesn't have architects on staff but works with many area and out-of-town architects.

Higginbotham said the company was nominated by one of its suppliers, Marvin Windows & Doors, for the magazine's honor.

"We went through an interview process," he said, "and they checked us out in other ways."

Remodeling magazine said that "the company still manages to maintain a small-company feel."

"Our old-fashioned methods and techniques really make us stand out," Korn told Remodeling.

Growth is not high on the company's priority list. It has about 35 people on its construction crew, Higginbotham said, and it's unlikely to ever get much bigger. He said he worries that growth might change the way the company does business.

"The thing that's important to us is our hands-on approach to every project," he said.

"We go to the meetings with the customers and their architects. We stay in touch with costs. We have almost daily contact with our customers and we don't want to lose that. It's what got us where we are."

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Higginbotham Bros., Inc. 10129 Manchester Road St. Louis, MO 63122 314-993-0079 fax 314-993-0079
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