Name: Paul Lussier

Age: 66

Title: Owner, contractor, developer

Company: Fieldstone Meadows LLC, Waterville

About: Developers of a 55+ housing development

Website: fieldstonelanding.com

What’s your biggest challenge right now?

Keeping our prices competitive — with the additional insulation and the extra work we do, like landscaping — doing all that and trying to be competitive with the rest of the housing market. This isn’t tract housing. We build five houses a year with the same tradesmen. We put in extra materials and we insist our contractors do the same. It really does matter.

If we built our houses just to satisfy the code requirements, one person out of 100 would not know the difference, but we would. It would cost more to heat and cool the home, and maintenance would have to be done sooner.

We live right here in the development, and when we meet our neighbors, we want to be able to talk about politics and religion and whatever else is on their minds, not complaints about their homes.

What’s the best advice that anyone has ever given you?

Make a plan, stay with the plan, follow the plan.

There’s a saying I keep on my end table. It’s got a picture of my dog and it has three lines: A vision that’s not put into action is a dream. Action without vision is just work. But combining a vision with action will give you an attainable goal.

I found this someplace years ago, and I plagiarized it and used it. It’s the mindset that drives us to do what we’re doing. It does take vision and hard work.

How do you foster creativity in yourself or your staff?

We’ve dealt with so many people over time. People come in with a definite plan in mind. They are building their dream home and that’s always great. And there are people who need a new home, and their health is such that they need to downsize. My customer decides ultimately. The cost depends on three things: the overall square footage, the complexity of the home and the inside features.

Working with people to arrive at something in their budget is a challenge.

What’s your biggest fear right now?

The fear is that we wouldn’t be able to do five homes a year. That the economy or whatever factors would limit us to three homes a year, and that would make it hard for our employees who depend on us for their living and their families.

There have been times when we could have done six or seven homes, but we would have had to increase the number of employees we have. That would take me away from doing hands-on work. When you’re hooking up a sewer line, I think you want to have someone with 40 years’ experience rather than someone with a year.

At the height of the season, we have six employees. It’s like a train. About the first of April is when we get started. The construction train is moving a little slowly in April. And then we move steadily along. Around the first of December, the train slows down and in mid-January, the train goes to a stop, and my employees get a couple of months off.

There are some builders who build year-round, but some things have to be done under optimum conditions.

Where do you see your company in five years?

We still have more houses to build here.

We are on our 65th home. We have all the infrastructure in to build 15 more homes. That will be the Meadows at Fieldstone Landing. Our current subdivision is approved for 12 more homes. After that, we have remaining land for 20 more homes.

What I would like to do is phase myself out. I want the employees to take over and run it. They are younger than I am, and they need to work years longer.

It would be shame if everything we built here were to stop.

What would make that happen is with owner financing. This seemed so far away 10 years ago, but now it’s here. I’ve talked with an attorney about sitting down and making it happened, and it will happen in the next year or two.

The quality people we have, they have the ability to go anywhere to make a living. We want to keep them here until the end. We want them to keep working with it. It’s hard to start something like this from scratch. My wife and I have been in the trades, and it took us 40 years to get to this point.

Someone with talent could take this over without spending 40 years building it. There’s always a demand for more housing. They could take this and do it anywhere.