These were primarily small, local companies that got from Hearthstone nearly all, if not all, of the capital needed to buy land.
In a lot of cases, the smaller companies didn't have the organizational strength or capacity to execute the projects they were bringing to us," explains Bruin, who came to Hearthstone in 1999 from Town & Country Homes in Chicago.
Hearthstone had a reputation in those days for inflexibility.
Pugash recalls that the firm required builders to use a voucher system for payments that involved sending Hearthstone copies of every invoice.
For the sake of its survival, Hearthstone made some decisions of its own, and the result was a corporate metamorphosis.
The record painfully showed that working with small, cash-hungry builders meant Hearthstone attracted those with the fewest finance options.
A few years ago, Hearthstone did no business with public builders.
For those builders, Hearthstone offers what Bruin calls balance sheet treatment.
Given its new clientele, Hearthstone loosened its infamous financial controls and put its effort into extraordinarily strong due diligence--what Bruin calls a full-blown, bank-type review--and better customer service.
In the old days, larger private builders had avoided working with Hearthstone, complaining of the expense.
For example, the old Hearthstone didn't jump on problems quickly enough.