Founder Returns To Mountain Ridge

May 9, 2005
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ADA — A former founding owner of Mountain Ridge Development LLC has become part of a small group that has purchased the residential development company — which has built quality communities in Cascade and Ada townships — from DP Fox Ventures LLC.

David Schermer, who started Mountain Ridge with Rob Cumming in 1990 and then sold the firm with Cumming to DP Fox nine years later, has joined Douglas Sumner and Robert Hinton as the new owners of Mountain Ridge Properties LLC.

Schermer served as the firm's vice president and manager of operations during the time DP Fox owned the company and now will direct the sales, marketing and land-development efforts. Sumner will head the construction division. Hinton is the firm's silent partner. The partners closed the sale on April 19.

The new ownership will continue building residential communities of semi-customized homes with midrange prices, like those at SaddlebackVillage in Ada. But at the same time, they'll also be aiming their business toward a higher price target.

"The addition of Doug Sumner to our company brings a whole new level of experience to our construction division. Doug has been in the business for 25 years and has built one the best reputations for high-end custom construction," said Schermer, who has been with Mountain Ridge for 15 years.

"One of our focuses will be that high-end custom market."

But right now the partners will keep their focus on WestVillage, a $50 million project being built in three phases in the Forest HillsSchool District on 126 acres at

Spaulding Avenue
and
Ada Drive
in AdaTownship.

The project is in the second stage of construction, having already developed more than two-thirds of the 150 lots. Work on WestVillage began 18 months ago, and the third phase is set to get started next spring.

"Homes are going up and people are already living in the community. We've sold about 50 projects in there so far. It's been very well received," said Schermer. "We're trying to bring a quality and a detail level into that middle price point that's just not out there."

Mountain Ridge has built eight communities worth more than $100 million in its short 15-year lifespan.

"When WestVillage is done, we'll be looking for new parcels of land," said Schermer.

DP Fox CEO and President Dan DeVos said his firm sold Mountain Ridge because it needed to concentrate on a resort property that it is developing in the Bahamas. DP Fox began working on the Eleuthera Island project more than a decade ago, a site that once was a tourist spot.

"It had a marina. It had a golf course. It had an airport. It had everything on it. It ended up going into bankruptcy, as part of a larger bankruptcy. It was bought out of bankruptcy by a group from Saudi Arabia. They ran it for a while. They ended up closing it and then it literally went to ruin," said DeVos, who owns DP Fox with his wife, Pamella.

DP Fox is attempting to resurrect a portion of the site into a 60-unit hotel that will look more like townhouses. The company owns 5,000 acres on the island and has turned over a part of that lush property to The Island School, which teaches conservation and is trying to create jobs for island residents.

"We're in the final negotiations with the government on what they call the heads of agreement. We're trying to get that finalized so we can move forward. This is the last piece we need to get Phase 1 off the ground," said DeVos of the project.

DeVos added that the timing was right to sell Mountain Ridge and felt the firm would be in good hands with Schermer and his partners running it. Schermer said the time he spent operating the company for DP Fox was time well spent.

"We went through those six years with DP Fox in reorganizing the company, updating our sales and building processes, making the company more efficient, more cost effective and also buying some key properties to ensure the future of the business," he said.

"I learned a tremendous amount about organizations, processes, forecasting, marketing — all the essentials to build the business up — and am very appreciative for the time that I worked for DP Fox."    

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