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'Building a Custom Home is Almost Like a Marriage'

By Terri Inefuku, via Pacific Business News (Honolulu). All rights reserved.
John Gregory IV has a world-class view.

His current office, a construction site atop Hawaii Loa Ridge, overlooks a large expanse of Oahu and the blue ocean beyond.

Gregory builds custom homes for Oahu's high-end clientele. Custom homes can range anywhere from $1.5 million to $10 million, depending on size and construction, he said. His company, Gregory Design Build, earned $4 million in revenue this year, landing the 22nd spot on PBN's Fastest 50 list for 2003, its fourth appearance to date.

"Building a custom home is almost like a marriage because you have to be so in tune to what the owner wants," he said. "It's daily meetings or weekly meetings with the owner to make sure we're proceeding in the direction that they want to proceed in."

This kind of dedication is not lost on his clients -- one of his current clients was also his first. Al Masini, a former television producer and creator of shows such as "Star Search," "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" and "Entertainment Tonight," was so pleased with Gregory's work on his first Hawaii home, there was no question about whom to turn to for his second.

"Having had the good experience with him last time, I knew I had to hire him for this one," Masini said. "He's a talented guy and very reliable. I knew he'd build a quality house and I'd get my money's worth."

Gregory's habit of working closely and well with homeowners and architects is just one reason his name is a reputable one in the business. He also maintains close relationships with subcontractors he knows are reliable.

"Most of the subcontractors that are on my job are always the same because they know what kind of quality I expect," he said. "They know what kind of work we do, so they all have that same standard or level of consistency and that's what makes it work."

Gregory moved to Hawaii in 1986, working in landscape architecture before turning to contracting in 1990. His experience in design proves useful on the job.

"A lot of people will look at a set of blueprints and build it no matter what," he said. "I can actually see things before they come up. That helps a lot."

Randall Monaghan, a landscape architect who works with Gregory, agrees.

"He knows what he's doing," Monaghan said. "Because he has both a background in design and construction, he's extremely well-rounded. I think that helps him communicate with all the people involved in the process."

But while Gregory frequently utilizes a designer's eye, he prefers the active lifestyle of contracting.

"One thing I don't miss about designing is sitting at a table for eight hours straight," he said. "I like being outside. I sit in my seat to pay bills, but for the most part I'm walking around the job site, going to different sites. I'm back and forth."

Moving between job sites never requires an airline ticket. Gregory's business remains strictly on Oahu, with no plans to expand.

"I have enough work here," he said.

Juggling about three projects a year leaves him working 10-hour days, six days a week. But Gregory isn't complaining.

"It's worked out well for me and I enjoy it," he said.