October 2011


Author: Paul DeVere

In one sense it’s a milestone. In another, it’s a statement. Almost 30 years ago, an opportunity presented itself to Frank Guidobono. While Hilton Head Island was in a downturn in the home building industry, he saw homes still being built along golf courses and lining the beach. The great savings and loan crisis of 1982-83 was coming to a head. The word “recession” was on everyone’s lips. The Michigan native was more than aware of what was going on in Detroit.

But Island visitor Frank Guidobono kept seeing those golf course and beachfront houses going up. Dream homes. He knew he could build dream homes better than anyone. It was all about quality and innovation.

He had earned his chops in Michigan. His dad was a concrete contractor and he worked for him. He knew how to drive a bulldozer when he was 10 years old. He founded Cambridge with his brothers in the 1970s in Michigan. He got a degree in building construction at Michigan State. In 1982, he was ready for Hilton Head Island.

As it turned out, Hilton Head Island was ready for Frank Guidobono. True to his heritage, Guidobono and Cambridge became the Lowcountry Michelangelo of builders. For Guidobono, the word “custom” means “unique.”

Discovering Cambridge is like discovering anything these days. What used to be word of mouth has now become much more complex— it’s a matter of how word of mouth is transmitted—and it’s not always by mouth. So Cambridge is getting in the promotion game by dramatically revamping its website, cambridgehomeshhi.com

Along the way, Cambridge has become well known as a builder that specializes in the tricky business of oceanfront homes, building over 40 oceanfronts on the island, and a company that shows a resolute commitment to making good on quality workmanship and warranties.

In South Carolina, currently with its eight-year “statute of repose,” the builder is required to stand behind its work for a long period of time—another clear reason to go with a builder who’s shown he’ll be around for a while.

“In order to manage those requirements, we’ve learned you have to do things right,” Guidobono said. “We like to overbuild with some reasonable accounting—there are some companies who overbuild to the degree that they’re wasting their clients’ money. But we watch costs very carefully and build a better product still within budget.”

Guidobono said that they offer turnkey service for fast tracking a project through competition, coordinating the initial design development with the design review process, architect, engineer, interior designer, and most importantly, the owner. “The majority of our clients are out of town throughout the design and construction process, and many reside out of the country,” Guidobono said. About half of the projects currently being considered or under construction came from the client with plans in hand, already designed by an architect.

Cambridge specializes in signature projects like Oldfield, where Cambridge built the golf club and the main clubhouse, and Palmetto Bluff, where Buffalo’s in the Village is Cambridge’s work, as is the gatehouse and several other “sense of arrival” projects.

Cambridge has built more than 30 homes in Wexford and dozens in Colleton River and Berkeley Hall, and perhaps as many as 800 overall in the Lowcounty, extending south to Savannah, including a very special home featured on the cover of People magazine.

Cambridge builds for all and Guidobono can also tell stories of building for heads of major corporations. One testimonial to Cambridge, a major client that had built nine oceanfront homes on Hilton Head, each one with a different builder, hired Cambridge to build for them. Cambridge has been their builder ever since, building five consecutive oceanfront houses.

Through it all, it’s been the range of projects and the vast experience that have set Cambridge apart. The company specializes in high-end, but is able to compete favorably on any kind of project large or small. “We custom build our clients’ dream homes from top quality materials and the highest construction standards in the industry,” Guidobono said. But he added, “Comparatively, we’re not expensive. We just build homes that have a lot of detail and specialized systems.”

One aspect of the business that Guidobono feels his company has not emphasized enough is residential remodeling and commercial projects. Remodeling has always accounted for a good portion of Cambridge’s business, and they usually have one or two underway at any given time.

Frank Guidobono, Owner of Cambridge Homes, Inc.

“We also do commercial work. We’re licensed as an ‘Unlimited General Contractor.’ We are also the local representative for Varco Premium Metal Buildings,” Guidobono said.

No matter what you have in mind, Guidobono’s goal for his client is to create a final product that “fits like a glove” in combination with what belongs in the Lowcountry, with a sense of preserving where we are, who we are, and what good we can do. Quietly, the way Frank Guidobono does.

Cambridge Homes, Inc. is located at 19 Bow Circle on Hilton Head Island. For more information, call (843) 341-2444 or visit cambridgehomeshhi.com.

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