It’s Always Relationship First
Central Keystone Living, Fall 2021
Jeff Musser’s lifelong love of construction began at an early age, accompanied by a strong work ethic and understanding of the importance of treating people well. Those qualities created a foundation of relationships first and quality construction that sets Musser Home Builders apart from others in the industry.
“My dad started taking me with him to job sites when I was just seven or eight years old,” Jeff recalled. “I made three dollars a day for picking up scraps, pounding nails and running errands. I probably wasn’t all that valuable to the job, but my dad saw something in me and wanted to foster that. That early experience drove home a strong work ethic and gave me a passion for building and construction.”
Nearly five decades later, Jeff, president of Musser Home Builders in Dillsburg, still loves building homes – nearly as much as he and his wife, Beth, vice president, love building relationships with their staff and clients.
“Relationships — that’s our company’s number one core value, and it’s where everything begins and ends for us,” Jeff said.
Central Keystone Living sat down with Jeff, Beth and some members of their team to talk about the company and the quality work it’s been providing to Central Pennsylvania residents since 1972 when Jeff’s father, Chester, founded the business.
Can you tell us a little bit about how you’ve built the company?
After working years for his father, Jeff became a partner in the business shortly after graduating from high school. Several years later, he and Beth bought Musser Home Builders, continuing the family-built traditions of fine craftsmanship and cultivating client relationships. While growing the business they’ve hired the best team available, making sure every employee shares their values and commitment to clients. After more than 30 years of owning the company, Jeff and Beth and their 29-member team have worked with thousands of clients to design and build beautiful, custom-built homes and transform homes with renovations and additions.
Can you describe your process of planning a home or renovation for a client?
The Musser building experience begins with the company’s Proven Pre-Construction Process, during which prospective clients and staff members get to know one another. Once a relationship has been established – with goals set, a budget discussed and a commitment made to moving forward – the design work begins.
“It’s always a collaboration,” Jeff said. “We listen to ideas, and we offer suggestions. We get to know exactly what our clients like, and why. We get to know their kids, their hobbies and their lifestyles so we can understand what kind of space they need. We even know their pets’ names and talk about where those pets will be comfortable sleeping! It’s a very intimate process.”
Once all the client’s needs are understood, the design team creates a unique plan that is specific to that client, and then works alongside the future homeowner to pick every item that goes into the house – from cabinets to hardware to closet shelves to ceiling fans. Only after that task is completed can a contract be written and executed.
“It’s a detailed and intricate process,” Jeff said. “We’re not right for everyone, but if we are, we will guarantee an unforgettable experience!”
What is involved with getting a contract ready to sign?
Musser offers a fixed-price contract, meaning there will be no hidden costs or price escalation once the contract is in place. In order to do that successfully, the company must be sure it is aligned with the client on every single detail that will go into the house.
“It’s a longer pre-construction process, but our results speak for themselves,” explained Jeff. “We stay on budget, we hit our schedules and our clients are happy. After we get the contract signed it’s easy. All we have to do then is build the house!”
Besides the fixed-price contract, what sets Musser Home Builders apart from other builders?
“Our company lives by its core values,” said Beth. “You can ask any member of our team and they’ll tell you the same thing – those values are our guiding light.”
What are the core values of Musser Home Builders?
Relationship First. Integrity Always. Continual Learning. Collaborative Approach. Pursuit of Excellence.
- Relationships First
- Hands build homes, but hearts change lives
- Integrity Always
- Innovative building with an uncompromising commitment to traditional values.
- Continually Learning
- Expanding our experience by incorporating progressive technology and creative solutions as we mentor others.
- Collaborative Approach
- Establishing a culture of teamwork and collaboration within our company and with our trade specialists, our vendors, and our clients.
- Pursuit of Excellence
- Passionate, forward-thinking, detail-oriented, and an uncompromising approach to achieve outstanding results that last for a lifetime.
“As long as we live by those values our company runs just the way it should,” explained Beth. “We hold one another accountable, we treat our clients the way they deserve to be treated and we do high-quality, uncompromising work. We place extremely high value on every relationship, whether it’s with a client, an employee, a vendor or a trade partner. All those things have made us successful and will assure our success in the future.”
You mentioned a few factors that make Musser Home Builders unique. Could you talk a little bit about those?
The first “unique,” explained Jeff, is the Musser team. Each team member is held to high standards and expected to align with the company’s core values. “Our team embraces our core values,” Jeff said. “We hire based on character. We can teach a skill.”
The next “unique” is experience. With a combined 400-plus years of industry knowledge, the Musser Team is experienced in helping clients navigate the renovation and home building process. “Our extensive construction knowledge and commitment to our core values combine to provide our clients with an enjoyable construction experience and an outstanding end product,” explained Jeff.
The company’s collaborative, hands-on approach is also unique, employing in-house designers, decorators, project managers, foremen, carpenters and support staff.
“The collaboration between our designers, project managers and foremen ensures that our architectural designs are not only unique, functional and beautiful, but also built to align with our uncompromising quality building standards,” Jeff said. “We are continually learning from each other and improving. The company has worked hands on with the same trade partners and vendors for decades, establishing a seamless understanding of quality expectation. We are truly partners in every project we do.”
Perhaps the most significant “unique” is Musser’s end products. The entire team works to assure every custom home and renovation job exceeds clients’ expectations. “We build homes of distinction that not only look beautiful but perform at a high level for life,” Jeff said.
Can you help clients locate property on which to build their dream homes?
Yes, for clients who don’t already own a lot on which to build, Musser Home Builders is an approved builder for some of Central Pennsylvania’s most beautiful and prestigious new home communities. Among those locations are Glendale Estates in Mechanicsburg, Forever Green Farms in Dillsburg, Oak Hill in Lewisberry, Penn National in Fayetteville and the Preserve at Stonehill Farm in Carlisle.
These locations offer home sites of varying sizes in different types of settings, with something for everyone from a young, growing family to retiring right-sizers. The company also builds custom homes on clients’ lots wherever they are located within a 60-mile range of company headquarters.
“We work to get our clients into the homes they love in the locations that are best for them,” explained Will White, project manager. “We believe that finding the perfect setting on which to build is as important as building the house itself.”
You can learn more about all the new home communities with which Musser partners on the company’s website at musserbuilder.com.
How did Musser Home Builders fare during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Like other Pennsylvania home builders, the company was forced to shut down in March 2020, leaving 20 new home and remodels in progress. Fortunately, systems were in place that allowed easy and effective communication with clients, enabling the Musser team to maintain close contact during the shut-down phase. With a detailed job progress documentation system already in place, the company was able to seamlessly pick up and continue with its projects when it was able to reopen in May. Since then, there’s been increased demand for renovations and new homes, resulting in Musser increasing its employee ranks by 20 percent over the past 15 months.
“After that initial period of being shut down we never looked back,” Jeff said. “We’re coming out of it on other side stronger than we went in.”
It sounds like you have great systems in place. Has this always been the case with the business?
Yes, although those systems have changed to accommodate significant company expansion.
“As we’ve grown during the past 30 years, we’ve had to be intentional about adapting our systems to support our growth,” explained Jeff.
The company hired a business coach through the Home Builders Association of Metropolitan Harrisburg, which has helped tremendously with communications, marketing and many other areas of business.
“We’ve been working with Small Business Growth Partners, a firm that works with HBAs and builders across the country,” said Charlotte Little, marketing director. “Their expertise has been extremely helpful and we’re grateful to have been able to access them through our Metro Harrisburg HBA.”
How has technology changed the home building industry in recent years?
Technology has been critical in advancing building science, which enables the Musser team to design and build better homes, explained Matt Musser, project manager. There have been significant improvements in the areas of energy, home performance, materials and techniques.
“Our homes routinely outperform building codes by about 50 percent. We are ‘energy nerds’ and proud of it!” Musser said, jokingly.
Technology is key in assuring that projects run smoothly. Every detail about every building project is entered and stored on an iPad that managers and foremen keep with them at all times. This keeps everyone on the same page and ensures that projects stay on track.
How do you and your team work together to achieve outstanding results?
“Everyone who works with us realizes the importance of helping one another and working together to produce the very best client experience and finished end product for our clients,” Beth said. “That’s a big part of our company culture. Teamwork is key to achieving our results.” She and Jeff complement one another’s strengths and team up to provide the best experience possible for their employees and clients, explained Beth, setting the example for the rest of the staff.
Do you have any parting thoughts you’d like to share?
According to Beth, the best part of being in the construction business is witnessing the excitement of clients when the project is finished, and they are enjoying their new or transformed homes.
“We get cards and phone calls from clients, thanking us for making it possible for them to have the home of their dreams,” she said.
Jeff said that while owning and running a business presents daily challenges, the rewards are great.
“There’s nothing I can imagine doing that gives me as much joy as what I do every day,” he said.