Sonora West Development

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 Sonora West Development looks to the coasts for inspiration.

By Chris Kelsch

Given the fact that Sonora West Development President Scott Pfeiffer has been building homes throughout the Phoenix area for more than 20 years, it is somewhat surprising to learn from what part of the country he gets his inspiration.

“I have always been a fan of soft contemporary beach homes,” Pfeiffer says. “They have always been way ahead of the game in terms of design. That has probably been my biggest influence.”

Monitoring design trends in the coastal towns of the United States has worked very well for Pfeiffer, as trends often begin there before making their way inland. “Most of the significant trends start on the coasts, and then take a little while before spreading,” Pfeiffer notes. “Arizona usually starts to see those trends shortly thereafter.” 

Pfeiffer appreciates the subtle appeal of great design. “I definitely think less is more,” Pfeiffer says. “I think the architecture should be more prominent than the design details.”

Home In The Desert

Pfeiffer and Sonora West’s success comes from extensive experience in building in the region. Pfeiffer originally started out studying finance in college, but found himself wanting to produce something tangible. He began his career with U.S. Homes in 1995, and eventually struck out on his own, founding Sonora West Development in 2001. The company recently celebrated its 15th anniversary.

swAccording to Pfeiffer, the company got off to a very strong start building in the central Phoenix neighborhood of Arcadia, even then importing design cues from the coasts. “We cut our teeth in central Phoenix,” Pfeiffer recalls. “We started building Coronado [California] style homes, which were lighter and more contemporary, while everyone else was building a darker, Spanish tuscan style.” The lighter look caught on, blending in well with Arizona’s desert surroundings. “When we succeeded in Arcadia,” Pfeiffer recalls, “we brought that look across the Phoenix Area.”

Sonora West has grown steadily since 2001. “People really wanted more efficient, clean-style with larger windows and big open spaces, which we were building,” Pfeiffer says. “That gained us market share. And benchmarking his company against national companies instead of local ones has continued to make a difference. “I think we stay current because we don’t follow local competitors,” Pfeiffer says. “We stay current by following competitors on both coasts, because Arizona can be is a little late when it comes to picking up on current styles.”

Consistent Approach

There is another reason Pfeiffer has been able to build Sonora West into an Arizona leader: sticking with tried-and-true methods and materials. “I stay with what works,” Pfeiffer notes. “I would say we have stayed successful for what we haven’t bit off on as well. Everyone is quick to jump on new materials or technology and more often than not, it fails.”

Staying with proven materials has made a huge difference, and waiting for technology to evolve and improve to the point it is more reliable has also served Pfeiffer well. For example, man-made materials such as quartz have improved in recent years, and Pfeiffer isn’t hesitant to use manufactured quartz. “I would say two years ago it was blasphemy to put in quartz,” Pfeiffer says. “But now man-made materials are actually preferred over natural stone materials and are now more prevalent in high-end homes. They hold up better and are indestructible.”

Evolving Styles

Of course not everything stays the same in luxury homebuilding. Pfeiffer has noted a consistent trend that has been prevalent since 2008. “I would say, post-financial meltdown in 2008, there has been a significant change in style,” he says. “Since then, we are consistently seeing smaller, better, more-efficient homes being built with an extreme emphasis on quality.”

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But while styles have changed, Pfeiffer’s approach has not. In fact, the strength of the company was on display during the downturn of 2008, as many local companies did end up going out of business. Sonora West, however, survived and ended up thriving as there were ultimately fewer competitors.

Given its approach, Sonora West should continue to thrive. “We concentrate on finding the property and finding the right architects and builders to complete the house,” Pfeiffer says. “We like to take control from the start and concentrate on finding the best property, coupled with the right designers and subcontractors. Using this method, I really feel we can make each custom home process a positive and fun experience.”

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