Think luxury homes – perhaps a $4.4 million mountainside estate in the Broadmoor Resort Community or a Colorado-style custom log-accent home in Wilderness Park. Or imagine massive architectural stone accents, wine cellar designed for a game of cards or casual entertaining, vistas from a terrace rimmed with concrete balustrades, or Old World script scrolled across a decorative kitchen rotunda.
This is the world of Gary Gregoire, homebuilder for affluent clients with discriminating taste. He began custom-homebuilding in Colorado Springs in 1994, but says it took the construction of five or six residences before he really considered himself a builder. “My dad was a homebuilder,” says the forty-something former U.S. Army pilot who served during the Gulf War in Desert Storm. Following retirement from his military career, Gregoire decided to return to the business he’d learned growing up. “I was stationed in Europe for nine years, and we traveled a lot,” he said. “I’ve always studied architecture, and had a great chance to see Classical design in Greece or Italy — and Gothic structures in Western Europe firsthand,” he said.
In addition to his love of architecture and design, Gregoire is also a skilled woodworker – and his homes are known for their elegant cabinetry, moldings and rich wood accents. “In college I ran my own woodworking business while going to school. At one point I employed twelve craftsmen – including two professors from the University,” he recalls.
From neo-Classical architecture on a golf course residence to a stairway patterned after those of a French king or marbled temple-like master bath/spa rooms, Gregoire has excited a ready Colorado Springs audience. “I like to design homes that incorporate an innovative use of space, and develop each plan myself, based on the client’s needs and preferences,” said Gregoire. “We create custom-designed architecturally interesting homes.” It is this passion for creating distinctive living environments that has catapulted Gregoire rapidly to popularity in the Pikes Peak region.
“We don’t do a lot of marketing,” Gregoire admits, noting that he does let prospective customers tour completed homes, with the owner’s permission. A reputation built on product rather than on marketing takes time, but Gary Gregoire finds strong client relationships lead to new business. In one home, for example, a Texas couple expressed a preference for crystal and polished marble. “We advised our interior decorator who obtained everything from Svarkowski – from door knobs to a magnificent foyer chandelier,” said Gregoire. He also designed double porte-cochere entries for guests to avoid long lines of drivers unloading passengers for parties. When another client requested niches for display of artwork featuring their beloved pets, Gregoire obliged. “I try to find out what my clients want – and then work to make it happen. Some builders dread a change or suggestion to the original plans; at Gregoire Homes, we enjoy challenges. That’s when the creativity kicks in – and 99.9 percent of the time, we can deliver exactly what the homeowner wants.”
Marketing broker and partner, Velma Kreiger of Velma Kreiger Ltd. Real Estate, believes in maintaining strong realtor relationships. “Every realtor has a million dollar client sometime,” she said. “When that happens, we want them to think of us.” Rather than promote through advertising and expensive mailing campaigns, she participates in activities like the S.A.L.E.S. Group upper-end tour each month. “We typically view six to eight homes from $400,000 on up. It’s a good way to get a feeling for the market. We seldom have a ‘spec’ home on the tour, however. Most of Gary’s homes are pre-sold.” She also organizes private, invitation-only events for realtors and clients.
Gregoire and Kreiger operate a comfortable partnership that began when he encouraged her to start an independent brokerage. Kreiger operates as Gregoire’s alter ego – setting meetings with the builder and clients, fielding non-technical client questions, setting up photo shoots, recommending personnel, and handling all financial aspects of the business. A former corporate business manager for a multi-office CPA firm prior to becoming a licensed realtor, she has also acquainted Gregoire with the local market. “I had worked with another custom builder before Gary,” she said, “but when I saw Gary’s first homes in Pinion Mesa, I knew there was no one else at his level in Colorado Springs. It has been the ultimate career dream come true for me.” Kreiger also notes that she can offer services above and beyond new home design and construction as an independent broker, such as helping with site selection and the sale of a client’s current home.
To date, in 2002, Gregoire Homes already has more than $11 million worth of projects on schedule – with more than six months to go. “I build all over the area,” he said. “I’m working right now on two houses in Cedar Heights, two in the Broadmoor Resort, two homes in Kissing Camels – and another in Black Forest with others in the planning stages.”
Because of the company’s consistently busy schedule, Gregoire hires the best craftsmen and artisans to work on his jobs. “I actually keep some team members on my payroll,” he said. “A lot of builders like to keep their overhead low and prefer hiring the lowest bidder.
The consistency and continuity that comes from a quality team makes it worth the expense. That way I know the capabilities of each employee, and each person understands the key role they play in each home.” Gregoire also likes incorporating the suggestions of his painters, roofer or carpenters. “A lot of times on custom jobs, you’re doing something for the first time and have to find creative ways to run lavatory plumbing through a bronze lion’s head – or to create the look of antique walls in a wine cellar. My crew understands those challenges – and knows how to create the end product,” he said.
This May, Gregoire was invited to the grand re-opening appreciation party at Broadmoor Main. Unlike the other guests on hand just to view the renovated lobby, mezzanine and terrace improvements, he was also there to admire his woodworking team’s handiwork. The builder with a reputation for beautiful cabinetry and millwork was entrusted, with creating one of the richest, most elegant bars in the West. The Hotel Bar showcases a rare cut of white oak on the bar itself and throughout the paneling on surrounding walls. “The Hotel gave us the kind of budget a project like this deserves,” he said. Terry McHale, the Broadmoor’s director of engineering said the Bar has drawn rave reviews. “The millwork, layout and finishing was just outstanding,” he said.
Whether it’s a 14,000 sq. ft. residence, a patio home or a signature project like The Hotel Bar, Gary Gregoire’s eye for architectural design and talent for fastidious execution have earned him high praise – and a spot among the area’s list of top homebuilders.