The Magnolia Homes Story

Karen Garner founded Magnolia Homes in 1987. A single mother of two children with a passion for building, Karen not only created a successful business but raised her son, Reggie, Jr., with the same commitment to quality and love for custom home building.

I’m often asked-or have heard the whispers “how can a woman succeed as a builder?” Yes, it is a male-dominated business, but not an exclusive one. I’ve learned that perseverance can take anyone beyond the limits that are placed before them. If you continue to work hard, don’t get discouraged, and try to learn something new every day, success will come.

With success comes not only a change in one’s critics, but also in what is said about you. After more than 30 years in business, 25 as the owner of Magnolia Homes, I now hear, “How can we be more like Magnolia Homes?” and “I cannot believe she builds such beautiful homes.” My favorite, however, is “let’s copy her floor plan and we can be just like Magnolia Homes.” They’ve missed the point. Success doesn’t come from the design or even the construction. It’s the owner’s commitment to uncompromising standards, and to respecting the importance of your role in the lives of your homeowners. We treat every customer like family- with care, respect, and honesty.

I was raised on Beale Street. My parents carried me to work with them every day to Sue’s Bakery. Elvis Presley frequently came in there to enjoy the jelly donuts, until my father died when I was eight years old. I was married at 18, my husband and I started a plumbing business the following year, with $400 in cash and a pickup truck. We started building homes when I was 26. In 1987, then, as a single parent of two children, I started Magnolia Homes- believing not just that I could succeed… but that I most definitely would!

A positive attitude is the most important trait you need to succeed in business and in life. And that attitude must come from your heart. This is where we store our life lessons. It’s where kindness originates, and allows us to be patient and tolerant. It’s where our focus comes from, and the ability to think of others and their circumstances. You don’t always have to put them first, but you do need to understand and empathize.

Attitude is what shapes our business practices and defines us as individuals. It’s the filter we use to evaluate our decisions and gives us the ability to move on. Attitude enters into every aspect of daily life-from “how do I deal with this economic downturn?” to “I’m thankful to be able to support this charity.”

Perseverance and a positive attitude have guided me in business for the past 35 years, and personally for my entire life. It is why Magnolia Homes has enjoyed such success, coupled with the heart and soul I put into every home we build. “That extra touch” is not a slogan for Magnolia Homes; it’s what we do and what we believe, every single day.


Karen Garner, President and Founder
Magnolia Homes, Inc.