Aubuchon Homes celebrates 25 years in business
Gary Aubuchon loves to tell the story of how he came to Florida out of college with one dollar in his pocket and how for the first two years in business he ran the operation from his home.
From those humble beginnings came one of Cape Coral’s biggest success stories. On Monday, Aubuchon and his nearly 150 employees celebrated the 25th anniversary in business for Aubuchon Homes with a big party at his downtown office.
The event was meant to be a thank you to the team members who have been there through the ups and downs, who have been there anywhere from one day to nearly 20 years.
That’s a whole lot better than when Gary came to Florida from his home in Michigan in 1984, when he had almost nothing.
“I had student loans, I maxed out my credit cards and used all the cash I had to get here. I lived with my dad my first year,” Aubuchon said. “I literally had one dollar in my pocket.
Aubuchon started in real estate with a company in Lehigh Acres. He credits John McWilliams as a mentor, getting him started and teaching him everything he knew as he took his next step.
Aubuchon Homes was incorporated on Aug. 28, 1992, where it began with Gary and his brother, Darryl, in the living room and dining room of their home for the first two years, with neither taking a paycheck for the first year.
“Our families went all in to make it happen. It all started with very humble beginnings,” Aubuchon said. “We had three open houses one weekend, but I was the only salesperson. My father sat at one house and my wife at another. We did what was necessary, working seven days a week to make it successful.
Soon came the boom times, and shortly thereafter, the bust. Thankfully, Gary learned his lessons from the first recession in the 1990s and made sure he was diversified.
“If we were just a building company, I’m not sure we would have made it, but because we were diversified, it really enabled us to thrive and grow toward the end of the recession,” Aubuchon said.
Jim Aubuchon, who took over for Darryl and has been with them for 23 years, said the boom times taught them not to get too far ahead of themselves and sacrifice quality.
“We got too crazy and we couldn’t keep things going as fast as we were doing them. It got to the point where we couldn’t control the quality because we couldn’t keep up,” Jim said. “Now, we’re being more cautious and putting out a better product.”
Another secret is treating employees like family. Diane Van Arsdale, an employee for 12 years, said Gary and his brother, Jim, are great bosses.
“They’re flexible. They let you take the ball and run with it. They’re easy going and don’t get upset with you. They’re good coaches,” Van Arsdale said.
Jacque Miloff, whose husband, Jeff, helps run the Miloff Aubuchon Realty Group, said working with the team is “awesome” and the teaming seemed like destiny.
“People were telling Gary that he needed to meet Jeff, and people were telling Jeff he needed to meet Gary. They met and the rest is history,” Miloff said. “We’ve made it through the great times and hard times.”
The company has also believed in giving back to the community, taking part in countless charity and community events to help others.
“What’s remained consistent has been our commitment to the community. Everyone here is involved as a company together,” said Leiny Ruiz, Gary Aubuchon’s assistant. “We all have a role. That’s our passion and that’s what the company is all about.”
At the event, Aubuchon took the time to thank everyone who has made the company a success it has become, among them was their uncle, Joe “Pops” Aubuchon, who infused some money into the company during the tough times and stayed to help wherever he was needed.
“I had the opportunity to come in and help, I wanted to help him, and he was very close to me when he was growing up,” Pops said. “His dad was one of my heroes. He was banged up during the war and I helped him out.”
It has certainly been a great year for Aubuchon Homes. Business is stronger than ever, and it has been named a finalist for the Business Citizenship Award, presented by the Horizon Council of Lee County, a division of the Economic Development Office.
Aubuchon said one of the treasures of being himself is having his team in his life.
“I love coming to work every day because I get to work side by side with you. You are my family. You are why we’re here today,” Aubuchon said. “Twenty-five years ago, I couldn’t envision this day. Now, I believe it’s going to go on forever.”