Pennsylvania-based Orleans Homes navigated through Chapter 11 bankruptcy to rebuild a family company.
It’s a classic story about an immigrant in America who, through hard work and force of will, begins with next to nothing and creates a great firm. In this case, Orleans Homebuilders Inc. grew to build 2,300 units at its peak in 2006 with just short of a billion dollars in annual sales, ranking No. 42 on Professional Builder’s list of Housing Giants. Then came the devastation of the U.S. home building industry, which began in 2006 in some markets, picked up steam in 2007, accelerated in 2008, and became a veritable juggernaut in 2009. By 2010, the housing recession had taken down half the builders in America. Orleans joined those unenviable ranks in 2010, shedding assets and employees, culminating in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, which saw the last of three generations of the Orleans family depart the firm. Although Orleans was in good company, what accounted for the demise of this 90-year-old institution when many of their competitors managed to work through the crisis and survive? And how did Orleans manage, against tremendous odds, to come back?