John Luhn and Larry Hufford sought a future for their families that was financially secure and prosperous. So, in 1984, the two former school teachers decided to take a leap of faith.
After serving an apprenticeship with a homebuilder in Lakeland, Florida, John and Larry moved to Brevard County where there existed an abundance of available land and unlimited growth potential. With a $5,000 investment each, and the construction of the “Challenger” (a 1,360 square-foot model home in Palm Bay thought to be too big for the market at that time), LifeStyle Homes was officially born.
LifeStyle’s Blueprint for Business
“Doing the right thing” quickly became the cornerstone of LifeStyle Homes. Born and bred in small-town America, John and Larry were both raised on the belief that hard work, devotion, and integrity in all that you do will ultimately get you where you need to be. Turns out, this belief was right on target when it came to building their business – especially in a community like Brevard where residents tend to share this same conviction. As with most things in life, John and Larry knew that respect must be earned. So whether it was building relationships or building homes, they remained focused on what’s important – treating people with honesty and fairness, and delivering an excellent product.
Because John and Larry came from teaching backgrounds, LifeStyle Homes was built as a classroom, rather than a boardroom. And as every good teacher knows, the key to prosperity is to help everyone around you succeed. So that became their aim, oftentimes referring to Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits for Highly Effective People” as a blueprint for business.
The Niche: Custom-Level Homes at Affordable Prices
In the early ’90s, LifeStyle Homes hit some major milestones. Despite a dismal housing market, the “Coquina” sold incredibly well upon its introduction, and ultimately started LifeStyle Homes on the path to carving its niche – the construction of homes that maintain a custom-level standard in design aesthetics and structural quality, but are value engineered. Simply put, the Coquina introduced a smarter design that required fewer materials and less labor, thus making a top-quality home extremely affordable.
The following years brought steady growth for LifeStyle Homes. The company added new team members, created even better home designs, developed new communities, and helped hundreds of homeowners achieve The American Dream.
Passing the Torch to Jake Luhn
Sadly, John fell ill and lost a hard-fought battle with cancer in 2007. There was no more admired and loved person in our community than John. His absence is felt everyday by everyone who knew him, but his guidance by loving example continues to this day.
That same year, John’s son, Jake Luhn, was called upon to carry on his father’s legacy. And as they say, “the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.” Like his father, Jake poured his heart into LifeStyle Homes, and quickly proved himself a commendable business and community leader. Through his vision and guidance, not only did LifeStyle Homes survive the U.S.’s worst real-estate market crash, during the recovery period, it achieved some pretty cool milestones, too.
The Creation of LifeStyle SunSmart℠
In early 2010, LifeStyle Homes was the first builder in Brevard County and the 41st builder in the nation to complete the U.S. Department of Energy’s “Builders’ Challenge” program – a program that urged home builders across America to raise the bar of quality, durability, healthfulness and energy efficiency in all new homes.
The completion of this program, in conjunction with guidance offered by the world-class scientists at the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC), led to the development of the LifeStyle SunSmart℠ energy initiative – a new method of building that reinforced LifeStyle’s commitment to do what’s right.
In its most simplistic sense, LifeStyle SunSmart℠ represents the company’s promise to build smarter, cleaner and more efficient homes. From this point on, all new homes built by LifeStyle Homes were guaranteed to meet at least a HERS 60 certification rating. Meaning, all new homes built by LifeStyle Homes produced 40 percent energy cost savings when compared to conventional homes.
While the company’s new building standards no doubt carried numerous benefits, in true LifeStyle fashion, Jake and the team wanted to do more … and so they did.
The Introduction of Solar-Powered Homes
On August 12, 2010, LifeStyle proudly announced the completion of its first solar-powered home using photovoltaic technology. The construction of this home marked the first solar-powered zero-energy home on Florida’s East Coast, as well as LifeStyle’s promise to be an active participant in the world’s clean-energy revolution. From directly helping its customers live a better life at a lower cost, to indirectly helping the country gain freedom from the tyranny of oil and providing our planet relief from excessive greenhouse gas emissions, LifeStyle Homes embraced solar power because, from every angle, it’s the right thing to do.
This home, the St. Croix model (since sold) in Capron Ridge, Tralee Bay Estates went on to win numerous awards, including the Florida Home Builders Association (FHBA)’s Aurora Award for the best solar-energy home, which was presented to LifeStyle at the 2011 Southeast Builders Conference; as well as the North American Net Zero Energy Production Home of the Year, which was awarded by the Net Zero Energy Home Coalition in Canada.
In early 2011, LifeStyle’s efforts garnered national attention. ABC’s “EXTREME MAKEOVER: Home Edition” contacted Jake to build a home for the Hurston family of Cocoa – a family dedicated to humanitarian service in Haiti. With enormous support from the community, the team at LifeStyle Homes successfully led the build of the show’s first solar-powered “extreme” home in 155 hours.
More achievements followed. Because of LifeStyle’s dedication to clean energy, like-minded forward-thinking developers of master-planned towns like Viera and Harmony, Florida, welcomed LifeStyle Homes into their communities.
The Next Chapter
In 2013, Jake made the hard decision to resign as CEO of LifeStyle Homes in order to pursue his lifelong dream of coaching college basketball. While his leadership at LifeStyle and his presence in the community is sorely missed, Jake’s brother, Jordan Luhn, has taken the helm at LifeStyle. Larry Hufford’s daughter, Karen Hufford, has also joined LifeStyle Homes to carry on the family business.
LifeStyle Homes is a family company. LifeStyle Homes is a forever company. As we move into our next chapter, we know challenges are par for the course. But we also know what it takes to succeed. Jordan and Karen grew up watching and learning from their fathers who, every day, did what’s right for their customers, community and country. The values of small-town America were instilled early on in Jordan and Karen, and they will continue unwaveringly.