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Family Roots Run Deep

T.R. Hughes Homes Remains Strong Into the Next Generation

T.R. Hughes provides “dream homes” for St. Charles Countians but the story of this local homebuilding company is what the “American Dream” is made of.

It all began with his desire to build a house for his mother so she could move close to the family in St. Charles. That would be the catalyst to transforming his life from a St. Charles police officer to the building of an iconic family business.

After building that first house in 1986, Tom Hughes took a leave of absence from 21 years at the St. Charles Police Department. At first, he would build a house, move his family into it, and start building another. In all, he built and lived in six homes over those first seven years.

In 1994, Tom came across 77 acres in north St. Charles, near where Highway 370 was to be constructed. He used two credit cards to put a $10,000 deposit on the land that would soon be the first T.R. Hughes Homes subdivision, Stable Ridge Estates. And he knew he had found his “true calling” – providing beautiful, affordable homes for families in his beloved town.

But don’t get the idea the last 36 years has come without its challenges. Though the company did a stellar job riding out the “housing bubble burst,” of 2008, it could not have been easy having to lay off so many employees, negotiating with banks, and holding on during those rocky years for the homebuilding industry.

But hold on they did, and Tom had good people to ride it out with, including his son Jason.

Jason had originally intended on following in his dad’s footstep as a cop, but then decided to join him full-time in the homebuilding industry instead.

Jason, 48, joined the company in May 1995 and has served as president the last three years. He started building houses when he was a teenager. “Dad didn’t really have anyone to help him, and I liked doing it, so I helped him. Just doing clean-up after the trades…you learn a lot about the process of building,” Jason says.

“I had taken the entrance exam for the police academy and was working security at the casino when I was 21. But that’s right around when Dad decided to take a leave of absence from the police department and began developing Stable Ridge. I could see it was really taking off, so Dad and I went to Lewis & Clark one day for lunch and I asked him what he thought about me coming to work with him at Stable Ridge.”

Jason started in the sales office, but then went to the construction side to work in the field as a laborer. “I’d stay late to work with the Project Manager. When we started the Land Development division, I worked as a field assistant and learned all about that side of the business.”

Tom’s daughter Courtney, 24, is now working in that division…where she helps the Land Development Team with everything from finding a parcel of land, to negotiating with the property owner, to zoning, and putting in sewers and streets. She joined the team in September 2020.

“I was little when the business was already up and rolling, so I really grew up in it…and with some of the same people who are still with us. I love it,” she says.

The business has changed and evolved over the years, having had around 170 employees, then down to seven right after the “bubble burst” and now is at 33. “We feel we’ve found our ‘sweet spot’ in the number of closings…at 93 this year,” says Jason. They attribute some of that to families being quarantined together and realizing they need something different.

“The challenge is getting materials and appliances, and prices constantly going up…but interest rates are still good and people are writing contracts.”

Current T.R. Hughes communities include Riverdale, Charlestowne Place and Charlestowne Landing.

Jason is also following in is father’s footsteps as a leader in the industry’s top association. Jason is currently the First Vice President of the Home Builders Association (HBA) and will be President next year. Tom served as President in 2008.

They say the future of the company involves getting back into the custom home-building market. T.R. Hughes Homes will soon be introducing a new development in North St. Charles, off Church Rd., with 12 five-acre lots, called “Twin Silos,” that will feature custom homes starting in the 700’s to $1 million-plus. They will also have a new development in Wentzville, called Arbor Valley, with 36 half-acre+ wooded lots, with homes from the high 500’s. They’re even looking at possibly developing further west, in Truesdale, for first-time and move-up buyers. “The new meat-packing plant there is supposed to be adding 1100 jobs so housing will be needed.”

A huge part of the company’s culture and mission is to help improve life for families in St. Charles County through its philanthropic contributions. The Hughes family believes in using its financial resources to put their Christian faith into action. They built the YMCA auction house in 1998 at The Manors of Stable Ridge, which raised more than $60,000 for the non-profit organization. The company helped fund T.R. Hughes Ballpark as well as donating land for Living Word Christian School.

They’re also active in Duckfest, a fundraiser for Emmaus Homes, held annually at Lakeside 370. The company has helped fund BCI’s Wing Ding, the St. Louis Crisis Nursery, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, and are big supporters of Law Enforcement.

After 36 years, Tom is trying to take a bit more of a back seat to the next generation. “I’m trying to be semi-retired and stay out of attending all the meetings,” he quips. “I have confidence in these two,” Tom says, smiling at his kids.

One can never foretell the future, but it certainly looks solid for this family business.

Always guided by a deep faith and a business philosophy of "treating people the way you would want to be treated," Tom Hughes has come a long way since the days of building homes in his off-duty hours. With family members like Jason and Courtney, and their attitudes coupled with their expertise, the company is assured of a long and successful future.