JACKSON, Wyo. — When you drive around town, you’ll see one name consistently plastered on projects under construction: New West Building Company. From custom and spec homes to multi-family housing, hospitality, and retail, not only do they offer an array of services, but they do so with a devoted elegance.
“I’ve always enjoyed what I do,” said CEO Robert Huggins in an interview with Best of Jackson Hole. “It’s an amazing career to be in, especially in a town like Jackson.”
Huggins moved to Jackson shortly after college and worked for general contractors as a project engineer in 1994. After a few years in town, he moved to San Francisco to build a career in multi-family development and large-scale homebuilding. He always missed Jackson and moved back in 2015 with his family to purchase part of New West Building Company. Since then, he has devoted himself to bringing the business to another level of quality and caliber.
“My goal has been to diversify the business from not only spec homes, but to include multi-family housing, custom homes and hospitality and retail spaces,” said Huggins. “I’ve also worked tirelessly to step up our quality by implementing the best practices everywhere possible and investing in great people and excellent contracting management software.”
Taking home silver awards in both 2019 and 2020 for the Best Builder/Carpenter in the Best of Jackson Hole, Huggins’ hard work has certainly paid off.
“I finally feel like we have earned this recognition because we’ve worked so hard to increase our quality,” said Huggins. At the end of the day, however, “it’s really a testament to the 60 employees we have across the company. From our project managers to our finished carpenters, they’re the backbone of the company and their work ethic and high standards have paid off. And they’re the ones that this recognition is really for.”
With the transient workforce that goes hand-in-hand with ski-town living, New West is devoted to empowering and educating its employees. Compared to the big city homebuilding sector, where you might find a plethora of qualified applicants, Huggins believes that in Jackson, you have to first focus on training good employees, and then continually retraining and investing in their career growth. Cultivating a family-like business culture is another significant piece of the puzzle.
“We’re all friends outside of work, and that’s very unique in this town,” said Huggins, “but you also have to be really thoughtful about absolutely everything that you do here. Relationships in the office carry over socially much more easily and consistently in a small town like ours, and it’s important to tread respectfully in all sectors of life as a result.”
Their devotion to keeping their employees happy and working through challenges such as the one we face today with Covid-19 is just one example of New West’s contribution to the community. While New West sponsors many events and organizations every year, including the Million Pound Pig Party for Hole Food Rescue and the annual summer concert series for JacksonHoleLive!, they’re currently focusing more on giving back to those in need in the community. Today, they’re trying to support local businesses by buying meals and gift cards for healthcare workers and local families in need and keeping employees safe throughout the crisis.
When asked what his favorite local business in town is, Huggins said Sweet Cheeks Meats. “I walk in there and they greet me with a smile, they’re just so friendly. I love supporting them.”