PART II, A History of Dorn Homes: 50 Years of Creating Neighborhoods, Connecting People


Dorn Homes entered the 21st century with the same focus on quality and innovation that drove our success in the 20th. There were, however, changes within the organization. After more than three decades leading the company, and having laid the foundation upon which Dorn Homes is built, Michael Dorn retired. Dave Grounds, our current CEO, took the helm. And he did so with Michael Dorn’s message of “sustainable good” at heart. While Mr. Dorn is no longer active in the organization, his message is still at the core of it.

From 2000 through 2004 Dorn Homes was ranked the #1 Custom Home Builder in all of Southern Arizona. At the same time, we launched our Building Science Initiative, offering homebuyers the most energy efficient homes in the marketplace. The focus on innovation and energy efficiency is about more than simply building healthier homes, or reducing environmental impact. It’s also about creating the nicest neighborhoods and building a reputation for quality that will ensure that, if a homebuyer relocates, the only words the listing will need is: “It’s a Dorn home.”

Beginning in 2005, Dorn Homes became the largest builder in the historic town of Tubac, Arizona. When we began building in Tubac, we strove to celebrate the tradition of the town, as we do in all the towns in which we build. For Tubac, that meant architecture that reflects the Southwest. It meant building with imported stone from Mexico and sourcing local materials. More importantly, it also meant using local trade partners and contributing to the community. Despite the successes in Tubac and Green Valley, even Dorn Homes was not insulated from what was to come next. The Great Recession presented immense challenges to the company and to the country as a whole.

As the economy and the industry recovered, Dorn Homes recovered as well. In 2009 Dorn Homes entered the Rio Rico and Oro Valley housing markets and became the first production builder in Arizona to offer standard full-solar homes under the label Solar Smart.

In 2011 Dorn Homes began building in Northern Arizona, and under the leadership of Jim Gunby and Ellen Carpenter, became the principal builder in Prescott Lakes. By the next year, Dorn Homes had become the largest builder in Northern Arizona and begun construction in Quailwood. Dorn Homes’ growth continued to accelerate into 2013 as we expanded to Sedona, building luxury homes in Rimstone, and expanding in Prescott and Prescott Valley.

While we continue building homes throughout Northern Arizona, we seek to build community as well. In 2014 we partnered with Homes for Our Troops and began construction on a mortgage-free home for an injured Veteran in Prescott Valley. We also regularly partner with local charities to help the most vulnerable among us, charities like Stepping Stones and Big Brothers & Big Sisters.

As our presence grows in Arizona, our reputation grows nationally. In 2016 Dorn Homes won Gold and Silver Nationals awards for Best Architecture from the National Association of Home Builders as well as the AZCentral Reader’s Choice Award for #1 Homebuilder. In 2017, Dorn Homes brought home two Gold and two Silver Nationals awards: The Organic Home and Online Sales Counselor of the Year.

In discussing what he hopes the coming years will bring, Mr. Grounds has one hope: growth. Growth of Dorn Homes allows us to do sustainable good, to foster that in others. It allows us to feed organizations that lack the luxury of a profit. Organizations like the ones mentioned earlier. Most importantly, it allows us to continue our mission of enhancing the lives of all those we touch.