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Benchmark Builders, Inc.

Benchmark Builders Celebrates Its 35th Anniversary

Benchmark Builders Celebrates Its 35th Anniversary

November 27, 2023

In the era of national and multinational corporations dominating the business landscape, there’s something to be said for a locally-owned company.

This November marked Benchmark Builders' 35th anniversary, and we're continuing to carve out our place in the state’s homebuilding business amid national competition.

“Between the great recession, consolidation, and the ever-rising presence of national or publicly-traded homebuilding companies, there’s only a handful of us local builders left,” says company president Richard Julian. “We’re not going anywhere.”

Rich is part of the third generation of his family’s business, which began as Eastern States Construction in 1953. Having worked in some capacity for the family business throughout his teen and young adult years, he took a quick detour in banking before returning to the company in 2003.

In 2017, he became President of Benchmark Builders after 14 years in the homebuilding industry.

Other third generation Julians include Amelia Wyant, President of Eastern States Group, Stephen Julian, President of Eastern States Construction, and Christine Moritz, Director of Operations of Sentinel Self Storage.

But it’s not solely a family affair at Benchmark Builders, though that’s undoubtedly an important part of their history. Take Fred Fortunato, chief operating officer, for instance. He joined the company 30 years ago after years of experience operating his own business.

“I enjoy working for a local, family-owned business that takes pride in the homes we produce, has a good reputation and cares about their employees,” he says.

Benchmark Builders grew from Eastern States Construction’s increased work and exposure in the homebuilding sphere, as well as a desire to enter the homebuilding industry for themselves.

“We were putting in streets for homebuilders, and then we did land development and subdivided lots,” recalls Francis Julian, the founder of Benchmark Builders. “I always liked and admired the homebuilding business. So, when we had an opportunity to get into it, we did.”

So, in 1989, Benchmark broke ground on its first development: Frenchtown Woods, a single-family community in Glasgow near the Maryland state line.

“What was really nice was to work with first-time homebuyers,” Francis says. “They’re so excited to get into their new home.”

After a few more single-family developments came Hershey Run, the company’s initial foray into 55+ communities. Benchmark built and completed eight additional 55+ communities in Delaware and is currently building in two neighborhoods – the Village of Eastridge in Smyrna and Traditions at Whitehall near Middletown.

And then there’s their partnership in the Town of Whitehall, a new urbanist community just south of the C and D Canal that incorporates residential, commercial and recreational spaces to create a beautiful, accessible place to live.

It’s well on its way – and there’s still more to come.

“I hate to say I have a favorite child when it comes to our communities, but Whitehall is very dear to me,” Rich says. “We’re nearing the launch of the next major section—The Landing at Whitehall. It will continue the vision already established at Whitehall but opens up another part of the property: a really gorgeous section up along the canal, surrounded by woods and rolling bluffs on three sides.”

That’s just one plan of many for Benchmark Builders as the company prepares for its future, continuing to balance its legacy of quality craftmanship and local tradition while continuing to grow, innovate and evolve.

“There are not many local home builders left that can maintain the needed land inventory, build a quality house, and compete with the very big national builders,” says Fortunato. “We can, we have, and we will continue to do so.”

And they’ll do so in Delaware, where it all began 35 years ago.

“What we build today—I want to be able to drive past it in three years, or thirty years for that matter, and say, ‘We built that. And we got it right,’” Rich says. “This is our one and only stage, and we perform.”

Happy Birthday, Benchmark! We're looking forward to many more anniversaries and milestones to come.