Starting with only a few tools and a passion for quality, Malcolm Morgan and a college friend founded Morgan-Keefe Builders (MKB) in 1980 in Hendersonville, North Carolina. It did not take long for the word to spread about the company’s high standards, professionalism, and superior level of craftsmanship. Fast-forward 40 years, and Asheville-based MKB is a multimillion-dollar company and one of the most respected luxury custom home builders in Western North Carolina and Upstate South Carolina.
In celebration of Morgan-Keefe’s 40th anniversary this year, the company refreshed its brand, expanded its customer offerings, and explored new growth opportunities. In December, they unveiled an-all new website, showcasing recent homes as well as many of their stellar classics. Even with all the brand enhancements, the company’s tagline, “Live in a work of art,” remained intact.
Reflecting on his 40-year journey, Morgan attributes his success to relationships, not only with customers but also with architects, communities, and trade partners — all of whom have shared his passion to create the vision that people truly can “Live in a work of art.”
GroundBreak Carolinas recently caught up with Morgan, who obviously loves what he does for a living.
After 40 years of homebuilding in the Carolinas, what do you still enjoy the most about your job?
I love meeting the next potential client…you never know who you are going to meet. It’s like a mystery every time, which is exciting.
How did you get into homebuilding?
I worked on various small construction projects throughout high school and college, and also worked with my grandfather who was a field engineer for a national company. Even though I graduated from the University of North Carolina in Asheville with a major in economics and a minor in psychology, it was those small projects that would get me thinking, “One day I’m going to build a house” … and then after I built one, I enjoyed the entire process so much that I wanted to build more.
Tell us about some of Morgan-Keefe’s projects.
We are currently building a 16,000-square-foot home in one of The Cliffs Communities, which is our third with Ike Kligerman Barkley, an international firm out of New York. We are also finishing up and starting a few homes in The Ramble at Biltmore Forest near Asheville, one of our favorite communities in which to build. We have built several homes in Highlands and Cashiers (North Carolina) over the years and hope to be starting a new home soon in the prestigious High Hampton community, which has a long and rich history. We have recently completed homes in The Cliffs at Mountain Park, Balsam Mountain Preserve, and Champion Hills.
Tell us about your growth opportunities – including those prompted by the pandemic.
The increased demand for quality contractors to handle additions and major facelifts to homes in the communities that we serve has opened a new door for us … and we believe that the growth potential is significant. Many of our previous clients are adding on to their estates; some are even building private spaces where they can work from home now and possibly in the future. Our Home Care division is growing as well. We offer homeowners annual and bi-annual maintenance inspections and services, which is especially helpful for those who are not here year-round.
What’s on the horizon for Morgan-Keefe in 2021?
By spring of 2021 we will be unveiling a new line of semi-custom home plans to meet the demand for modern, transitional, and farmhouse living. We want to be able to provide homeowners a way to get from point A to point B quicker, and still have a quality home that stays true to the MKB brand.
Did you have a mentor along the way?
I have had several mentors in my life … probably the most impactful person in my life was my personal and business coach, Don Boone, who took the time to mentor myself as well as other businesspeople in our community. I could call Don at 3 a.m. and he would be ready to chat!
What changes have most impacted the homebuilding business?
Like most businesses, I think technology has had the biggest impact and will continue to do so. Also, I am hopeful that we will continue along a green path in the future. I know I have made this a personal focus, as this is something that goes beyond our lifetime.
Morgan-Keefe is known for building masterpieces. Is there anything else that you would like to be known for?
I think being able to work with such wonderful people. It is not only about getting the job done, but also about enjoying the process.
What one element do you believe has contributed the most to your success in this industry?
Without question, my former business partner, Kevin Keefe. When we started this business 40 years ago, Kevin knew much more than I did about the actual building. I think I had reasonable business sense, but he taught me a lot about building a home, which served me well once I assumed full ownership in 1994.
What advice would you give a young homebuilder starting out?
Don’t be afraid to fail or make mistakes. There are many swings in the business path of life … they come and go; it is not the end of the world.
What is one word your employees would you use to describe you?
I defer to the Morgan-Keefe employees.
And here is what they said:
- Well rounded
After decades of success in the custom homebuilding market, it has always been Morgan’s joy of building exquisite homes that prompts people to refer to them as masterpieces.
Be sure to visit morgankeefe.com.