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Published: Saturday, 11/16/2002

Designs for Everyman evolve into focus on upscale housing

This new house in Ottawa Hills is typical of the projects of Scholz Design, Inc. This new house in Ottawa Hills is typical of the projects of Scholz Design, Inc.

The houses are bigger - a lot bigger - than when Donald J. Scholz started the business in 1946, but what has evolved into Scholz Design, Inc., is still on the cutting edge.

And, unlike at its beginnings, the firm focuses on upscale housing.

Based on Executive Parkway, the privately owned Scholz Design has 20 employees who work on close to 500 projects a year and a chief executive officer who wants to expand the business.

“We're concentrating on what we do well, which is the creation of fantastic luxury home designs that appeal to the market,” said Christopher Gibson, who has been president and CEO since July, 2000.

“We want to stay in that niche and do it better and better.”

Scholz Design offers plans of houses ranging from 1,800 to 15,000 square feet, although the average size is 5,200 square feet.

The company is held by the group of private investors, mostly from Connecticut, who bought it in 1983 from Inland Steel. The firm declined to disclose its annual revenue.

The firm's founder was a builder and developer who offered a mix of affordable design and upscale housing, but the current company is no longer a builder.

Instead, it offers more than 2,000 designs that can be purchased by individuals or builders.

Many of the designs are customized further, and the finished home can easily cost more than $1 million.

Mr. Gibson estimated that 70 percent of the company's clients are in the top 5 percent net-worth bracket in the country.

The company's staff typically spends six months getting to know what the customer wants before a design is crafted.

The company also intends to do more designing of adult active communities, such as the 629-unit development called Waterside in Monclova Township.

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