Bryan Upton – President and CEO
Graduate Master Builder (GMB)
Bryan Upton has a lifelong passion for residential real estate and a proven track record of success in entrepreneurial ventures. He founded Refined Custom Builders in 2013 with the mission of helping clients design and build their dream homes in Houston’s finest neighborhoods. The team of seasoned professionals Mr. Upton has assembled at Refined Custom Builders reflects his personal commitment to providing the highest level of expertise across all aspects of the home building process, from site planning and floor plan layouts to premium interior finishes and master craftsmanship.
Mr. Upton’s involvement in real estate began in the mid-1990s when he launched a residential paint contracting company that became one of the largest in the Houston area. Under his leadership, the company not only exceeded the industry average in sales by 500%, but also achieved a 95.7% customer satisfaction rating and gained 82% of its business from repeat and referral clients. After selling the paint contracting company, and spending a couple of years as an award-winning sales representative for a national health insurance firm, Mr. Upton realized that real estate was his true personal and professional passion. In 2003, he began researching the real estate investment market and by 2007 he had acquired almost three dozen single-family rental properties as well as a small multi-family apartment complex. As a result of his success, he was recruited by a real estate consulting firm to mentor new investors on the best strategies for identifying, evaluating, financing, closing, rehabilitating, leasing, and selling investment properties. In 2009, Mr. Upton was recruited to join Guardian Equity Management, where he served first as Executive Vice President and was later promoted to Chief Executive Officer responsible for seven of the company’s divisions.
Since leaving Guardian in 2013 to found Refined Custom Builders, Mr. Upton has continued to add to his personal real estate portfolio domestically and internationally. He is a sought-after lecturer for real estate groups and has guest hosted numerous radio programs dedicated to real estate investing. Mr. Upton acquired his real estate agent license in 2008, his broker designation in 2010, and holds a Certified Graduate Builder designation from the National Association of Home Builders. He earned a Bachelor’s degree with a specialty in Entrepreneurship from the University of Texas in 1994. Outside of work, Mr. Upton trains in Mixed Martial Arts and holds a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Garet Hall – Executive Vice President
Garet Hall has always shown a penchant for technology, starting an after-school PC business at the age of 14 building, configuring, and supporting custom PCs and networks. However, early on Garet realized that technology is just a means to an end, and proper design and application of any “system,” whether it be through technology or other means, is what provides value. Before finishing high school, he had already created and optimized business and operational processes and systems through designing, installing, and supporting several IT solutions for small businesses, including accounting/finance, operations, CAD, inventory management, machine management, and customer relationship management. Upon graduating, Garet started working at a local value-added IT reseller to provide hardware and software solutions to local Houston businesses. Besides his primary role as a technical lead, he eventually performed sales, administration, and supply chain functions to further align his customers’ needs with the business’s offerings. Within a year, he built a small team of technicians and the business began offering onsite support. After three years, he was hired by his largest customer, an IT consultancy firm, to oversee or directly provide IT support and services to over 150 small businesses. Intent on scaling up and broadening his skills in a large, international enterprise, Garet joined Emerson Electric in 2004 to move and modernize the IT operations of their $250M oil-and-gas measurement business unit Daniel Measurement and Control at a new location. He was promoted into several different leadership positions and performed other IT-centric interim roles as Daniel Measurement grew into two separate business units with a combined revenue of $600M over the next 10 years. Although he thoroughly enjoyed working in corporate management, leading strategic projects, and developing software solutions to optimize business processes, Garet was looking for an opportunity to work in his preferred investment vehicle, real estate. Garet met Bryan Upton and his partners in Refined Custom Builders through an earlier real estate investment. Attracted by their solid business model and deep experience, Garet was eager to partner with them and apply his analytical, technical, and process management skills full-time to their growing business. He joined Refined Custom Builders in 2015 and has since formed a complex love relationship with dirt, bricks, and mortar. Garet is particularly savoring traveling around the country learning new real estate practices and applying their concepts to his local real estate market.
Vincent Upton – Senior Project Manager
Vincent has been involved in the construction industry since the age of 17 starting out as a painter helper, and working his way up to Senior Project Manager. He has worked extensively in every aspect of both commercial and residential construction. Vincent holds an active Master Electrician License, which is a testament to his construction experience and continued education in his chosen field. He excels at managing complex projects that involve multiple trades and tight deadlines. In addition, he has extensive contact with our customer base making sure the customer knows exactly what’s going on with their custom home.
When Vincent is not working he enjoys spending time with his 5 children and wife of 16 years. He is also an avid soccer fan and volunteers his time coaching youth teams in the Spring area. Vincent is also a big supporter of the local professional soccer team, the Houston Dynamo. Forever Orange!
Marc Smith – Superintendent
Marc began his career in residential construction after graduating from Baylor University. Over the past 20+ years he has managed the construction of homes ranging from starter to estate homes in excess of $18,000,000. In addition to the experience that Marc brings to Refined Custom Builders he also is a licensed real estate agent, sat on the GHBA’s Custom Builders Council, and helped manage the construction of homes for Habitat for Humanity.
Marc is married to his wife of 15 years and has two boys, 9 and 12 years old. His hobbies include carpentry and woodworking where he builds custom furniture, cabinetry, and does a little wood turning. His wife claims, “It’s an excuse to buy tools.” Marc also enjoys Dove hunting and coaching his boys in whatever sport is in season.
Victoria Upton – Acquisitions and Dispositions
Accredited Luxury Home Specialist (ALHS)
Victoria is a 3rd generation realtor and has always had a passion for real estate. You can say it’s in her blood. Her grandmother owned Century 21 Greystone for over fifteen years where Victoria would often work during the summers. After her grandmother’s passing in 2008 her mother took over the brokerage firm and renamed it Lonestar Realty. Victoria attended Southwestern Assembly of God University specializing in business administration. After returning home from college she decided to get out from under her family’s wing with great success.
In 2001 Victoria went to work for a commercial security firm as the Human Resource Manager where she oversaw over one hundred employees and managed three direct reports. Her specialty was Employee Relations, Benefits, and Training. In December of 2008 Victoria was hired on at Adobe Equipment, a heavy construction equipment company, as the Human Resources Director. Here she built the entire human resources department from scratch. During her tenure she oversaw over 380 employees in 9 different locations, and managed three direct reports. Victoria provided leadership, consultation, and strategic direction. After five years with the company the owners decided to sell for a substantial gain. One of the reasons being how well the company was operated. While employed at Adobe Victoria met Bryan Upton who rekindled her passion for Real Estate. She decided the time was right to take the skills she learned in the human resources field and apply them to the family business. Victoria has two boys, ages 6 and 13 (she claims she had them when she was 8). She enjoys going out to dinner and trying out different restaurants around town… especially Italian. She stays in shape by playing tennis and running.
John Neal – Controller
Mr. Neal graduated from Texas A&M with a B.S. in Computer Science in 2004. Upon graduation John worked for the Texas A&M Thesis Office from 2004-2007 as a Programmer / Analyst. While at the Texas A&M Thesis Office, John designed, implemented, and maintained the in-house electronic thesis and dissertation submittal system streamlining the Texas A&M Thesis Office workflow. After meeting the love of his live, Vanessa, it was time for a change.
John joined Emerson Electric’s oil-and-gas measurement business unit Daniel Measurement and Control in 2007 as a Programmer Analyst. While at Emerson John designed, implemented, and maintained the Intranet for the Daniel Measurement & Control business unit. Additionally, over-time as John’s understanding of the business grew, so did his responsibilities. He assisted the business on numerous internal business-process improvements that optimized business processes. The responsibilities continued to grow and John was promoted to a Business Systems Analyst where he continued to work for Emerson to analyze and improve business-processes. Although John enjoyed the challenges and problems presented to him at Emerson, it was time for another challenge.
John’s utilizes his attention to detail while researching his Genealogy in his spare time finding numerous ancestors that fought in the American Revolution or lived in Salem during the infamous Salem Witch Trials in 1692. John also spends his spare time spoiling his wife and 1 year old son as his family continues to grow. They are expecting son number two in 2017.
Craig King– Vice President Special Projects
Bio Comings soon…
Lina Morales – Office Manager
Ms. Morales has over 13 years in the hospitality industry working with some of the largest hotel corporations in the industry like Marriott and Hilton. Starting out as a front desk agent, she worked her way up to sales manger. As a sales manager she was in charge of booking groups and weddings to help the hotel meet and exceed revenue goals.
After her daughter was born Ms. Morales made the decision to focus on her family and took some time away from her career. Once her daughter started school Ms. Morales decided to go back to work. However, she made the conscious decision not to go back to a large corporation and, instead, focused her search efforts on small businesses close to home. She was fortunate enough to find a family owned company, and took over the office manager role. This role was the perfect fit for her as it allowed her to work full time, finish her B.A. from Our Lady of the Lake University, and was still able to have balance with her family.
When Lina is not working she enjoys spending time with her family and is very active in her church as well volunteering with Shriner’s Hospital in Houston.