With a background in fine art, custom homebuilder is known for unique metalwork, woodwork
We don’t build normal,” Zach Baldridge ’95 says with obvious pride as he talks about the more than 30 custom homes he has left dotting the Lynchburg-area landscape. “From the outside design to the light fixtures, what we do can’t be found in a catalog.”
Baldridge settled on a career in designing custom homes at the end of a circuitous route that began in Longwood’s pre-engineering program.
It was the art classes he took freshman year that first pointed him in a different direction. Maybe he was naturally drawn to the subject or maybe he signed up because his father, Mark Baldridge, was a professor in the department at the time.
Whatever the reason, the younger Baldridge quickly discovered a passion for working in many different media and soon switched his major. Over the next four years, Baldridge began to combine his passion for art with his natural knack for science, working in materials such as wood, metal and glass—which, of course, are some of the primary materials used in home building.
After graduation, he got a job as a design engineer, working nights and weekends to design and build his first “dream house.” The house caught the eye of local real estate professionals and their clients.
Fast forward more than 12 years and today Baldridge is the owner of TrueCustom Inc., a Lynchburg-based company with five employees where Baldridge uses his Longwood art training, particularly his skills in casting and metalwork, to create two to three unique homes each year.
“A lot of fine details from older homes aren’t being done any more because the craftsmen aren’t around,” he said. “We use technology, from computer-aided designs to advanced manufacturing techniques, to bring back classic, artistic details to newer homes.”
These details include custom railings, concrete molds and fabricated metal light fixtures, hinges and kitchen hoods.
“I tell customers to find something they like—a shape or an image—and then we talk about ideas and work together on a style for their home,” he said. It’s my job to help people see what’s possible and what’s feasible, and then guide them through the creative process.”
Baldridge said he owes much of his success to what he learned at Longwood. The university also played a part in another aspect of his life: He and his wife, Tiffany, met when they were both resident advisors on campus. They were married just weeks after graduation and this year celebrated their 20th anniversary.
Tiffany Baldridge ’95 is a communications coordinator in the alumni office at Randolph College in Lynchburg, and she and Zach have three children: Colton, Kayli and Malyn.