What a milestone! This month officially marks LifeStyle Homes’ 40th year in business! What a journey it has been. LifeStyle Homes started humbly with its two founders, John Luhn and Larry Hufford, building modest stick-framed homes in Palm Bay in the 1980s. Today, 40 years later, we are a second-generation semi-custom and custom homebuilder backed by a dynamic team that brings to life some of the most gorgeous, high-performance homes throughout Brevard and Indian River counties.

Last October, John and Larry (who have both passed on) were posthumously inducted into the Space Coast Home Builders and Contractors Association’s (HBCA) Hall of Fame. Larry’s wife, Kathy Hufford, gave a speech at the award ceremony that we believe perfectly summarizes LifeStyle’s ride over the past 40 years. We hope you enjoy:

“It was quite a journey for two former educators from the Midwest to the founding of LifeStyle Homes, and the receipt of this prestigious honor from the Home Builders and Contractors Association of Brevard County.

 “I’m speaking tonight on behalf of your new Hall of Fame inductees, Larry Hufford and John Luhn. Our families found it almost impossible to separate on an individual basis their involvement in the construction industry in this area. Their business relationship was founded in 1984, but their friendship and respect for each other started in Polk County, as top sales associates for Sunstate Homes, a major developer/builder in that area in the 70s and 80s.

 “Larry had attained not only his real-estate salesman and broker license, but also a contractor’s license. When Sunstate decided to expand to the East Coast of Florida, they offered Larry the opportunity to pick the spot and lead the new division. His research led him to Port Malabar in Palm Bay, a wide-open area with 65 square miles of roads and inexpensive lots. Sunstate began operations here in 1982, willing to give a shot to something new for their company. But building on random lots simply wasn’t a good fit for their business model, and within two years Sunstate closed the Brevard division.

 “But by then our young family had become involved in the growing community, and loved exploring all the wonderful things this county had to offer, and we wanted to stay. Larry decided he could capitalize on the business relationships he had formed, and also expand some ideas he had for starting a new company. He invited John to join him in this venture. John and Marcia Luhn said yes to the opportunity, and moved their family here shortly thereafter.

 “That begins the history and legacy of LifeStyle Homes. Larry headed the construction side and John the sales and marketing. But in the very early days they both did some of everything. It was a partnership based on total trust, and shared commitment to doing what is right—for customers, trade partners, employees, and the community.

 “I question if many of you here tonight remember Palm Bay in the 1980s, long before it was discovered by the giant national developers. Our own children were barely out of diapers. I remember that era as mostly local builders selling from competing model homes on NW Emerson Drive. LifeStyle was no different. Larry would tell me “so-n-so builder just went down in flames, but it won’t be long until another will rise from the ashes!” 

I know I’m preaching to the choir if I refer to the peaks and valleys of the homebuilding industry. Over the years Larry and John built a loyal staff and weathered many challenges. Mistakes were made, lessons were learned, successes were had, and business relationships and friendships were forged. Whenever they could manage it, they got away from the stress and phones with a day on a boat with a fishing rod in hand.

 “It did not take long for the Luhn family to become involved in many activities in their new community. With three growing boys to raise, for many years John volunteered to coach youth sports. His caring nature and desire to give back and make a difference drove him to serve in a leadership capacity for several charitable organizations. John gave countless hours to Habitat for Humanity projects. He was also on the Board of Cancer Care Centers of Brevard for many years, helping raise funds for families struggling financially to pay for daily needs while a loved one received cancer treatments. John was the driving force in establishing a company-wide charitable culture by helping initiate our school supply drive, Education Renovation and Adopt-a-Family for Christmas programs, to name a few. 

 “It seems incredible when I think of how the partnership has evolved over the last 40 years.  Statistics indicate that the majority of family-owned businesses don’t survive to the second generation. But here we are. Following John’s untimely death in 2007, his and Marcia’s son Jake took the helm and, with Larry’s mentoring, led the company through the tough years following the subprime mortgage crisis.

“In 2011, producers of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition asked building departments to recommend a local builder to tear down and rebuild a new home, designed by the show’s team, in seven days! LifeStyle was chosen as most likely to accomplish that feat. And volunteers from one end of Brevard County to the other, including suppliers, subcontractors, building departments, inspectors, food preparers and corporate sponsors showed up to lend a hand and be part of the excitement.  They “Moved That Bus” a week later, and we were on national TV!

 “Having Jake and the staff in place, Larry now had time to research all aspects of the emerging solar industry in home construction. He was fascinated by the technology and it’s broad range of benefits for the homeowner and the environment. He enrolled the company in a new program initiated by the Dept. of Energy called the Builder’s Challenge. Partnering with the Florida Solar Energy Center at UCF for certification, LifeStyle completed the first net-zero certified home in the Southeast in 2010. It was a proud moment for everyone involved. We continue to certify all of our new homes are SunSmart. Larry stayed involved in advancements in the solar industry, and served on the Advisory Board of the Florida Solar Energy Center until his death in 2018.

“When Jake left the company in 2013, to follow his dream of coaching college basketball, Larry again looked to family members to bring on board. The “Senior Old Guy” as he called himself, took on the task of mentoring Jordan and Karen in  what we all know can be a brutal but rewarding business. They faced new challenges Larry and John never dreamed of.  They met them and learned from them. As it should be, they have infused the company with their own vision for the future but remain ever aware of the legacy they inherited from their fathers. What a bright future it is!”

Here’s to our past and present, and 40 more successful years!