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high ceilings and other trying tasks for homebuilders. “I’m not the only builder who can build stuff like this,” he says of his work. “But I may be one of the few in the area who is crazy enough to take something like that on. I enjoy my work.” While he’s spent much of his time in the business engaged in the local environment becoming aware of the highly specialized needs of his clientele, the looming effects of the economic downturn became glaringly apparent to Higginbotham shortly after wrapping up work on a major project in 2009. “I had just finished a good-sized house from ’08 that carried us into the next year. Usually, I’ve got something else coming out of the ground but this time I didn’t,” he says. “I finished on Friday and by Monday, I didn’t have anywhere to go for the first time in

out work that included insurance repairs and other minor services. He cut down on building speculative housing, relegating the construction of lavish trappings like Spring Place to “only an occasional thing.” “I was just homebuilding before the crash,” he says. “It soon became clear that we needed to diversify.” Projects that he wouldn’t have had time for five years ago soon became the bread and butter of Higginbotham’s day-to-day operations. From repairing flood damage to remodeling and adding expansions to existing homes, Higginbotham’s team conceded a bit of the glamour in order to stay afloat during the recession. “We eventually started to take anything that anyone would call about,” he says. “It took a while — I was sort of typecast as the guy who would only work on big houses.”


30 years.” To avoid fading into obscurity like so many of his peers, Higginbotham began researching new ways to find work, cut costs and minimize the impact of the nation’s greatest economic struggle in recent history. “At the time, I was thinking about how it wasn’t just me — there are a lot of people who were dependant on me to make a living,” he says. Eventually, he decided that concessions would have to be made. He closed his workshop in Hernando off of McCracken Road, where he produced many of the components for his Spring Place homes. His office in Olive Branch also closed its doors soon after and Higginbotham was forced to conduct operations from his own home. “The office was mainly just a place to meet people and shake hands, but we made a lot of good stuff in the shop that we applied to the houses,” Higginbotham reminisces. While primarily a homebuilder by trade, the recession led Higginbotham to seek

In addition to scarcer opportunities for work, combating the high prices of building supplies and raw material became a secondary battle for Higginbotham and his associates. “Right now, lumber is at an all-time high. Everything has gone up in terms of prices for materials but not labor — the people are still there; everybody wants to work,” he says. “The bottom line is that everybody is working for less now.” Now, with the market on the upswing, Higginbotham hopes to restore his operations to their former pre-crash glory. He’s currently back in Spring Place working on new properties and back to the basics of the profession he loves: building homes from the ground up. “I know a lot of people who were good builders and businessmen who didn’t do anything wrong but got caught in the crunch,” he says. “Subcontractors were scarce for a while but now things are coming back together. Since January, I’ve done more work than I have in the past four years.” | JULY 2013 95

Five that Survived the Crash  
Five that Survived the Crash