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Home-building company reviving its brand name in Oklahoma

BY TIM FALL Published: May 23, 2009
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photo - Flags fly over the Brass Brick Design/Build model home at 3260 Orchard Ave. in The Grove addition at NW 192 and May Avenue.PHOTO BY JIM BECKEL, THE OKLAHOMAN
Flags fly over the Brass Brick Design/Build model home at 3260 Orchard Ave. in The Grove addition at NW 192 and May Avenue.PHOTO BY JIM BECKEL, THE OKLAHOMAN
Standing in the model home his company has built in a fast-growing neighborhood in far northwest Oklahoma City, David Frolich told the complicated, cautionary tale of Brass Brick Design/Build.

He told it carefully and as simply as possible.

"There were four partnerships known as Brass Brick, building 100-plus houses a year. Times were good, and certain partners started pulling a lot of money out of the company. They got into financial trouble, and two of those entities went bankrupt,” Frolich said.

Frolich’s tale has a hero, a reluctant one, in Joe Bowie, an investor in one of the former Brass Brick partnerships.

"This thing was forced on me,” Bowie said. "But I did what I had to do, which turned out to be the right thing.”

As heroes go, that makes Bowie more Clint Eastwood than knight in shining armor.

Either way, Bowie and the new Brass Brick Design/Build have taken on the responsibility of resurrecting a brand name, a reputation and the home ownership dreams of scores of families.

"Mostly, I have people telling me they’re glad we’re still in business because of the positive associations they have with Brass Brick,” Frolich said. "They know us for edgy, custom stuff and for the quality, affordable homes we build.”

Surviving bad times
Karen Blevins, a Realtor who lists Brass Brick Design/Build’s homes, said the Brass Brick brand survived turmoil associated with the previous owners, who got in financial trouble last fall and filed for bankruptcy in January.

"In the Realtor community, there is huge confidence in this company. Our sales show that, and the number of calls I get about our homes shows that,” she said.

In light of what they’ve been through, that confidence was not always a given.

"There was definitely a stigma attached to our name,” Bowie said. "I was attacked pretty good in the blogs. But I was a victim myself. I did everything in my power to make sure everyone was taken care of, even if it meant a loss financially.”

Now, as far as Bowie is concerned, there is only one way forward.