N.C. company markets log homes to gays

BY admin

March 26 2005 12:00 AM ET

A month-old company based in Rocky Mount, N.C., hopes to find success in the very niche market of gay and lesbian buyers of log homes. Justin Porter, founder of Log Homes for Us, said he noticed a market to sell the homes to gays and lesbians while working for a larger company, of which his firm is now a division. At log home exhibitions, "I realized one out of every 10 to 15 couples was a gay or lesbian couple," Porter said Friday. "And I realized there was no company catering to that demographic."

He guessed--correctly, he says now--that the salespeople in the log home business, which he describes as "a very good ol' boy industry," lost interest when they learned they were dealing with gay couples.

Porter, who is gay, describes the response to the limited advertising placed by Log Homes for Us as "unbelievable." "We're just getting call after call," he said.

Log Homes for Us is a division of the Original Log Cabin Homes Ltd., which began in 1973 and moved its headquarters to Interstate 95 in Rocky Mount in 1987. President Tom Vesce says he envisions Log Homes for Us selling 300 to 400 homes in its first year and accounting for as much as one sixth of overall sales. "We've had over the years many, many gay and lesbian customers," Vesce said. "This is an opportunity to acknowledge them publicly and salute that segment in the marketplace."

Log Homes for Us has contracts for more than 75 homes, he said. And the company is working with the developers of Carefree Cove, a private community for gays being built in Zionville. All the homes in the community, located north of Boone, must have log or cedar siding.

Developer Gina Razete said CJR, the company she owns with her partner, Cathy Groene, is building spec homes from Log Homes for Us kits. In addition, the developers will recommend Log Homes for Us to property owners. So far, CJR has sold 54 lots and plans to sell the last 30 or so lots this summer.

Razete and Groene have also partnered with three men to form Pride 5, a general contracting company that will put together the kits for landowners. "It's exciting that three gay companies can come together and do business for the gay and lesbian community," Razete said from Fort Myers, Fla., where she and
Groene also have developed a community for gays.

It's not that gay and lesbian couples are more interested in log homes than heterosexual couples but that Log Homes for Us is catering specifically to that market.

Buyers of log home get "kits" with all the parts of the home that they, or a builder, then put together on their own land. "It's a very hands-on project," Porter said. "You're involved in it from the foundation to the roof, from the doorknobs to the type of shingles you're going to have."

Log Homes for Us markets itself with ads that are sleeker and more contemporary than those the parent company uses, said Porter, adding that gay and lesbian couples tend to buy larger homes than straight couples.

Its Web site makes oblique references to why log homes should appeal to gays and lesbians, saying the Americans who settled the West "owned their own land and were free, both politically and economically." (AP)

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