A Childhood Dream Realized: A Conversation with Mark Braunsdorf, Owner

Mark Braunsdorf's childhood drawing of a home.

What attracted you to the idea of homebuilding from such an early age? 

The story goes that when I was three, I saw a blueprint on display at a local grocery store that was undergoing a remodel. I thought it was so cool and asked my parents who made that? I then decided that I would be an architect in the winter and a builder in the summer. 

As I grew up, I was obsessed with Lego, and just wanted to build as much as I could. By the time I was 12, I spent my summers doing odd jobs around my neighbors’ houses. It didn’t matter what it was, I did it – from insulating attics, to painting, to fixing anything that was broken – and I loved it. Once I hit high school, I began building theater sets for the school plays and by the time I was a junior in high school I ran the crew, a job typically given to a senior. 

As a teenager I also worked for a remodeling contractor who gave me the opportunity to be exposed to all parts of the building process from framing & drywalling to roofing, painting, and plumbing. To say I have always been passionate about building is an understatement – it is literally at the core of who I am.

A drawing of a home floor plan made by Mark Braunsdorf as a child.

What about home building do you love the most? 

The reality is I love creating and building – it gives me an incredible sense of satisfaction. When we build a new home, we have added something beautiful to the environment. I really push our team to make the houses look as beautiful as possible because each home is a reflection of who we are. 

I also love to see a family fall in love with their home. It’s like giving someone a gift. When you give someone a gift, it’s an amazing feeling because it comes from the heart. The other thing that I found that I really love and that actually surprised me is the understanding of the business and how the parts and pieces come together to make it work. I enjoy managing people and cultivating them in a way to help them grow professionally. When I find people who have passion, those are the people that we hire and cultivate, and that is why we are so successful – because of our people. 

I really can’t imagine doing anything else with my life. I am remarkably lucky that I have been able to do what I have wanted to do from the age of 3. I can still remember my very first day on the job when they handed me blueprints and I thought, “I can’t believe they are paying me to do this.” 

What part of the home building process is your favorite? 

At heart it is two things – design and the production side. Design because I think in 3D. I have really strong spatial awareness, so I am actually really good at laying out spaces so that they work. And production being one of favorite components – I love being on site and seeing the house being built. I absolutely loved being a supervisor earlier in my career and running a job. Not surprisingly, this is probably the strongest area of Compass Homes since this was where my focus was from the very beginning.  

What words of advice do you have for the young boy who first made those drawings? 

My uncle who has since passed away was my mentor and gave me great words of advice about business in general. He told me to get involved in your industry, get your people involved – and not just locally. Our whole team has connections throughout the country within the industry. It’s important to always keep an eye open for opportunity because it will come in the strangest of ways. And always take the opportunity to learn everything that you can.