After 40 years of building homes for Galt families, Mike Guttridge is hanging up his tool belt. Known for exceptional quality built homes, Guttridge is also known for honesty, integrity and professionalism. He also isn’t shy about standing up for his beliefs. Galt’s Community Planning Director Chris Erias said working with Guttridge has been a great experience.
“It’s with great sadness to share that the Community Development Department provided the final inspection on Emerald Park Company’s final home,” Erias said. “I will certainly miss working with the company and, in particular, Mike Guttridge. He has taught me much about building homes and the city of Galt itself. Mike is one of the hardest working people I know. He is always true to his word and has a great sense of humor. I wish him well in retirement – he certainly earned it!”
Galt’s Assistant City Planner Kristyn Bitz worked for Emerald Park Company near the beginning of her career.
“One of the most important lessons I learned from Mike is that there is no substitution for hard work,” Bitz said. “Mike commonly worked 12-hour days, including weekends. He was hands-on, too. He could often be found on the job site, ensuring even the smallest details were not being overlooked.”
Bitz said the Guttridge family set the standards when it came to honesty.
“I will always credit Mike and Sally (Mike’s sister) for furthering my interest in real estate and property development,” Bitz said. “While I gained many job skills during my employment with Emerald Park Company, the most important asset I gained was how to behave ethically. In an industry of subpar sub-contractor work, obscure financing activities, and profitability via corner cutting, Mike and his crew stand alone. The ‘Mike’ method of doing business includes being honest, being respectful, and working hard. Take a stand when something isn’t right, and give back to your community and neighbors.”
Council member Curt Campion said he had the pleasure of working with Guttridge beginning with one of his first Galt developments. Campion worked as Galt’s planning director when Emerald Park was working on their second Galt development – the #16 Emerald Park.
“It was always a pleasure to work with Mike,” Campion said. “Of course, he brought jobs to Galt. He also brought integrity and confidence. When working on a project, he was the voice of reason. (He was) never afraid to say what he thought, yet always willing to work it out.”
The Guttridge family came to California from Oregon after World War II, bringing a herd of cattle to start a new ranch in Elk Grove. After building up his prized Aberdeen Angus herd, Mike’s father Jim started a new venture – selling ranches. When Mike graduated from college, the family started their third big business, and Emerald Park Company was born. Mike’s mother Minnie Guttridge designed the plans for the large one-story homes and decorated the models. Mike’s brother Jim Jr., and two sisters, Janet and Sally, were also put to work at the company. The four siblings eventually became 4G’s Development.
The Emerald Park new homes in Elk Grove were a hit with buyers. The large homes had custom features and were priced to sell.
Erias said Emerald Park homes are prevalent in Galt.
“Emerald Park Company and the Guttridge family began building homes in Galt in 1980,” Erias said. “They built the homes on the north side of A Street west of the railroad tracks. A couple of the streets bear the trademark Emerald Park Company names – Emerald Drive and Emerald Oak Drive. They moved on to build many homes in the northeast part of the city. Most homes built adjacent to the freeway were built by Guttridge.”
Guttridge would venture out to build commercial properties and brought more than quality constructed homes and businesses to Galt, according to Erias.
“They also differed from some because they cared about the community,” Erias said. “They didn’t come to Galt to take from the community – they came to Galt to improve it. The company’s final subdivision, Emerald Park #22, is an example of their dedication to this community and their homebuyers. Rather than pay a park in-lieu fee, Mike Guttridge, president of Emerald Park Co., opted to build and pay for the more expensive alternative: a bridge connecting the south side of Deadman’s Gulch to the north. They built the bridge because it benefited the community and the homeowners in the new subdivision.”
Bitz said the Guttridge family always looked out for their homebuyers.
“The 1980s was when the subdivision was started north of A Street,” Bitz said. “Mortgage interest rates were terribly high, but Mike (along with his father Jim Guttridge) offered a creative option: a buyer had to pay 50 percent up front, Emerald Park would then allow a five-year loan to pay the remaining 50 percent at 0 percent interest. This move allowed many families to fulfill the homeownership dream. Mike and his family helped shape Galt into what it is today. Emerald Park Company was pivotal in developing neighborhoods that became sought after by families from other cities: large homes on large lots with wide streets. Had he not built here, it’s possible the city would look very different from what it is now.”