The way Brian Stock looks at it, diversifying his development company is an ongoing thing — not something to do one time and be done with it.
That’s the core reason why he believes the company, Naples-based Stock Development, was able to rebound from a dip in revenue in 2018, and, more recently, overcome some coronavirus pandemic hurdles. “We’re really a diversified company,” Stock says. “We’re not just a homebuilder anymore.”
The 386-employee firm posted $490 million in revenue in 2019, up 35.4% over 2018, when it had $361.8 million. While nearly $362 million would make it one of the region’s largest locally based homebuilders, that figure was a -14.6% drop from 2017, when it had $423.64 million in revenue.
Stock, in an early July interview, says it was too early in such a topsy-turvy year to project 2020 revenue. But the year will be stellar if May and June is his guide, not April. That’s because in April the company sold a paltry three homes, a low bar easily bested in May. Then June, Stock says, “was as good of a month I can ever remember having.” The sales goal was to put 21 homes under contact in June. The final tally: 45 contracts, with an average sale of about $1.4 million.
“It’s been a very eventful three-and-a-half months,” Stock says. “Our main focus has been the health of our staff and the health of our customers. We’ve had to be really flexible.”
'We’re really a diversified company. We’re not just a homebuilder anymore.' Brian Stock, Stock Development
One example: The company moved its title company from inside the office to a tent outside the office, to make it easier for social distancing.
The latest moves designed to complement its homebuilding business, meanwhile, include expanding into condos and commercial development, in addition to targeting markets in Sarasota and Florida’s east coast. In the Sarasota area, it began building estate homes in the Lake Club in Lakewood Ranch in in summer 2019. It’s also working on Fruitville Commons, an urban lifestyle community on 42 acres just off the Interstate 75 Fruitville Road exit. That project includes commercial space, hotels and luxury apartments.
On the east coast, the company is working on several custom projects in Wellington and Palm Beach, including a $50 million house — built on spec, with no buyer — on 916 S. Ocean Blvd. That house, according to a prospectus on a website devoted to the property, is a “true family compound, with eight bedrooms, 10-and-three-half baths and spectacular outdoor living space with front and rear loggia, center courtyard, pool deck and pool, plus direct beach access to an ocean cabana.” It’s the most expensive home the company has ever built.
That house is also a long way from businesses Stock’s father and grandfather founded and ran, the places where Stock learned some of his key business lessons. A farmer, Stock’s grandfather had a supply business outside Green Bay, Wisc. Stock’s father K.C. and a partner used horses to haul logs out of a nearby river to provide lumber for the supply business. Brian Stock, along with his three brothers, cut grass and did other tasks for the company. “Dad led by example,” Stock said in 2018 story in the Business Observer. “The theme was we all had to work hard.”
Brian Stock and his father launched Stock Development together in September 2001 — a week before 9/11. They used land the family had bought in Naples as an investment for its first project. Stock’s kitchen table was the initial headquarters.
The business got through the ensuing post-9/11 downturn, eventually, by diversifying its revenue streams. It did the same thing in the 2008-09 recession. At various points that included creating a swimming pool company, interior design firm, in-house mortgage brokerage and title company.
Besides diversification, Stock Development’s strategy is to be nimble and opportunistic with its variety of businesses. Like when it sold its resale and rental realty unit, with 21 agents, to Premier Sotheby’s International Realty in 2018. Also in 2018, Stock Development sold Spectra, a 324-unit apartment complex it built on a 32-acre site in Fort Myers in 2017. Coast Ridge Real Estate bought the complex for $71.4 million. Another possible sale could close by the end of 2020, Stock says, with Inspira, a 304-unit upscale apartment project the firm developed Naples. That could be a $90 million deal.
Diversification has brought another, ongoing advantage to Stock Development: Being involved in so many things, Stock says, keeps the team motivated and inspired. “We all have an entrepreneurial spirit here,” he says. “The whole team wants to keep working on these exciting projects.”