On the road to becoming a successful home builder, Chad Collins has established himself by being prepared for whatever curveballs life throws at him.
He was recently named the 2019 President for the Hillsborough/Orange County Chamber of Commerce, elected by the chamber’s Board of Directors.
A 1991 graduate of Orange High, Collins’ father was a subcontractor who ran Hudson Well Company in Durham. Collins grew up riding shotgun around construction sites.
“I’ve been exposed to new construction literally all my life,” Collins said. “While the well machine was running, it was fun for me to walk around and enjoy the sites and sounds of new construction. It was a natural fit for me.”
Collins is the owner of Collins Design-Build, Inc, which he has operated since 1997. In 2016, he served as President of the Home Builders Association of Durham, Orange, and Chatham Counties. He has also served the North Carolina Home Builders Association in various positions for 5 years. In August, Collins was appointed by Governor Roy Cooper to the North Carolina Home Inspector Licensure Board.
Throughout high school, Collins worked at the old Hechinger’s location on Hillsborough Road in Durham. The store was going out of business just as Collins was about to graduate from Orange.
“A builder walked in and said he needed to hire an assistant superintendent,” Collins said. “I figured this would be a good place for me because I’m a young kid selling building materials and assistant superintendents don’t make a lot of money. It was on a Friday. He asked me if I could start on a Monday.”
Collins went from making $5.50 an hour to $8 an hour.
Collins rose through the ranks of promotion, ultimately rising to operations manager before the company merged with another group. While most of the employees from Collins’ company were retained, he opted to go out on his own.
“I didn’t have the energy to reprove myself all over myself,” Collins said.
Collins called his house framer, who had more capital than Collins did at the time, so they could start building houses together. The partnership lasted until the recession hit in 2006.
That time marked a fork in the road for Collins.
“Everybody was changing jobs,” Collins said. “People were losing their jobs. Nobody knew what was going to happen. There was a fear of the unknown. Nobody knew if they were going to make their house payments the next week. It was a very scary time for a lot of people, including us.”
Collins returned to school to become more well-rounded. He became a certified home inspector.
“There are designations that you can put behind your name that real estate and insurance people have,” Collins said. “One of the accreditations that I hold is accredited master builder. It was a rigorous series of classes and courses that teaches you all aspects of building homes.”
He also studied green building concepts, which has proven to be valuable at a time when society continues to become environmentally conscious.
Since 2010, 100 percent of Collins Design-Build, Inc. houses have been certified green by the National Association of Home Builders Research Lab.
“I really embraced that,” Collins said. “Somebody asked me the other day what I’m most proud of. That’s it. Living through the recession. We didn’t have to declare bankruptcy. The bank got their money. Everybody got paid and we didn’t forfeit on anything. Because builders were going broke all around me.”
Around the time of the recession, Collins also had an adjustment in his personal life. He met Emilee Hooven, who had sold mortgages for 10 years, while selling her a membership to the North Carolina Home Builders Association.
“I had some parade of houses,” Collins said. “She contacted me as a mortgage lender about manning some of the houses during the parade weekend. That’s how we met.”
The two married in 2006.
“When she came into my life, I was definitely on the way up,” Collins said. “She is the one that blossomed me. She knew the mortgage lending industry very well. She decided to get her real estate license to be even more in tune with what I do. I don’t if you can have a stronger team. We’re kind of a one-stop shop.”
Chad and Emilee Collins have offices in Durham. They also offer real estate services in Hillsborough and Chapel Hill. Learn more by calling (919) 730-7040.