With Las Cruces experiencing an unprecedented real estate and housing boom, local builders are at the heart of the action. These builders, as individual businesses and as members of the Las Cruces Home Builders Association (LCHBA), not only create homes in which families can thrive, but contribute to the community in many ways.
Las Cruces Home Builders Association
Nicole Black is the executive officer of the LCHBA. As such, Nicole provides consistency year after year for this vital organization to our community and works closely with its leadership. Nicole understands the impact the home building industry has on our current local economy, but also sees the role of LCHBA as providing a path for future generations. “Our association has become incredibly active in bringing skilled trades back to the classroom, and we offer many opportunities to network,” she says.
Ben Beard — Red Cliff Homes
Ben Beard founded Red Cliff Homes in fall 2017. Red Cliff Homes has a range of designs for homeowners to choose from in neighborhoods throughout the Las Cruces area. Service to the community is important to Ben, both as a business owner and a resident. “We build homes for our neighbors,” Ben says. “Our service doesn’t end at the sale; in fact, that’s where it begins. We want the home-buying experience to be as stress free as possible for our clients.”
As president of the LCHBA in 2021, Ben oversaw much-loved events re-emerging after the peak of the pandemic, including Showcase of Homes, golf tournaments, and the annual turkey drive to help families during the holidays. Red Cliff Homes will be building the LCHBA Casa for a Cause home in 2022, but the program that Ben really enjoys is the Build My Future event, which involves more than 300 students from area high schools.
Build My Future gives high school students an opportunity to understand the building trade with hands-on experiences, from design and drafting to the hammer and nail. Ben sees these young participants as the future of the construction industry, but also wants the students to take away something even more important. “There is a feeling of accomplishment when you build a home,” Ben remarks with a smile, “and when you drive by something you’ve built, the feeling is special.”
Kelly Fort — Fort Construction
Ben officially handed over the presidency of the LCHBA to Kelly Fort of Fort Construction for 2022. Kelly, a New Mexico State University graduate, and co-owner Matt Dynek hung out their own shingle in 2018 after many years of working in the Las Cruces construction industry. Fort Construction builds custom homes, but to hear Kelly talk about his company, it is so much more. “I fell in love with the thought of bringing people’s dreams to life,” he says.
Kelly sees his role as incoming president as continuing the work LCHBA has always done to help home builders and associated trades, as well as giving back and contributing to the community to make greater Las Cruces an even better place to live.
Adam and Renee Juarez — A New Beginning Custom Homes
Another custom home builder making a positive impact in our community is A New Beginning Custom Homes. Founded in 2017, A New Beginning Custom Homes is owned by Adam and Renee Juarez. A true family affair, Adam’s brothers Ricky and Juan also have important roles in the company. A New Beginning Custom Homes offers families with varying budgets the opportunity to build custom homes. Their team assists their clients all the way from the selection of a location to the type of tile to the palette of paint colors for a home, all to ensure their buyers receive exactly what they want.
A New Beginning Custom Homes also believes in giving back to the community. Through their Helping Hands initiative, for every home they sell, they donate $500 to a local charity of the buyer’s choice. A New Beginning Custom Homes is also the builder for the 2021 LCHBA Casa for a Cause program. Local sponsors donate time, money, and supplies to build a home from the ground up and proceeds from the sale of the home are donated to local charities in need.
Kent Thurston — KT Homes
If it takes a village to raise a child, who builds the village? As the community’s population grows, the need for houses grows, too. However, the supply of professional construction and tradespeople is not keeping up with the demand. Kent Thurston, owner of KT Homes, grew up in the construction business with his siblings and father, Ken Thurston. Kent saw the shortage of young people interested in the construction industry and decided to do something about it. Grinning, Kent says, “Some of my happiest memories are working on the job sites with my siblings until the job was done.”
The Education House is a joint project between LCHBA, KT Homes, and Organ Mountain High School (OMHS) that teaches participating students every step of building a house, from start to finish. John Arguello is the instructor for the students in charge of building The Education House. “The students are responsible for designing and building every part of this house,” John explains, “and they have to pass every inspection, just like any other house built in Las Cruces.”
The Education House is within walking distance of OMHS, and when the students can’t make it out to the job site because of weather or while they are waiting on inspections, they spend time in the school shop building custom furniture or drafting designs for subsequent phases of the project. The students are all remarkably invested in this project and speak of how much they have learned. LCHBA members are guest speakers in the classroom on a range of topics including the financial aspects of the home building business. Both Kent and John made it clear that OMHS Principal James Schapekahm has been instrumental in the success of this program, championing every aspect of the program since it began in 2018. All proceeds from the sale of The Education House go into the LCHBA education fund so that the program continues year after year and eventually becomes self-sufficient.
With homebuilders like these investing so much in the community, Las Cruces can’t help but feel like home.
Written by Daniel Gonzales
Photos by Amanda Gonzales and courtesy
Originally published in Neighbors magazine.
Posted by LasCruces.com