March 12, 2014
It all began in 2004, when two young men bought neighboring homes on a quaint street in Needham, MA. Ironically both of them had ties to the area and had known each other as kids. Mat Roth and Ryan McDonnell attended the same school from 6th-10th grade. Now married with children, t hey happened to end up living next door to each other on Hawthorn Avenue. “I saw Mat mowing his lawn during my home inspection. That was the first time I had seen him since 1991,” says Ryan. During the next few years both men realized that they wanted to change careers AND they both had interest in real estate development. So it started, with meetings in their basements and daily lunch outings, Mat and Ryan started on their journey to create Hawthorn Builders.
Ryan had a background in accounting and was working as a financial consultant, while Mat was on the financial side of real estate. Together they were a dynamic team with the combined credentials to make things happen. Ryan is willing to admit that, “we both took huge risks in quitting our jobs and pouring our savings into a company that we knew so little about. However we learned from our mistakes and evolved into a completely different type of company than we had set out to establish.” They started small, with their first project being a three family building in Roslindale which they flipped into condos. From there things progressed to Needham with the purchase of a single family home on Kimball Street. In remembering the earlier days Ryan says, “Mat and I worked as part of the construction crew and learned how to frame, roof, side and do all of the finish work at the house. We also did the landscaping ourselves, including erecting a fence along the property. It wasn’t always pretty but we got through it and gained valuable experience in doing so.” Mat is quick to agree that “although there have been some shaky moments, we have always gone at this with all that we have.”
Throughout the whole process, Mat and Ryan stayed true to their vision of building individualized homes that fit the ascetic of Needham by showcasing high quality and craftsmanship. By 2009, their business had grown and they were ready to transfer from their individual home offices to a rented space in downtown Needham. Soon after, they brought on an in-house designer and a project manager to add to their team. It didn’t take long for them to outgrow their space and two years ago they relocated to Chapel Street and added several new members to the team, including a new office manager. Now going strong, with ten home projects built last year and a strong pipeline for the upcoming year, Mat and Ryan have found themselves with a new project that brings them back to Hawthorn Avenue. Currently a spec house, Hawthorn Builders is excited to make this home an example of the personal touches that exhibit the skill, craftsmanship and design that inspired them as neighbors nine years ago. “I hope that we can provide comfort and safety to a new family (person, couple) in a well built, quality home,” said Mat. Ryan echoes this when asked about his projections for Hawthorn Avenue, “Despite the fact that both of us have since moved from Hawthorn, we knew that the neighborhood would be desirable and we know most of the neighbors so we felt very comfortable doing a project on the street. We’ve designed something that we feel is unique to new construction and fits the character of the neighborhood.”