CWS began in 1969 as a small investment firm founded by Jim Clayton and Bill Williams. They combined their own capital to purchase an apartment complex in Southern California. In the early 1970’s, Jim and Bill saw an investment opportunity in under-valued mobile home parks, the investment vehicle that the company would emphasize for the next twenty years. In 1977, Steve Sherwood teamed with Jim and Bill to form Clayton, Williams and Sherwood, Inc. and began acquiring manufactured home communities much more aggressively. By the 1980s, Clayton, Williams and Sherwood, Inc. established itself as one of the largest owner/operators of manufactured home communities in the United States. In the late 1980s, CWS began selling its manufactured housing units to focus more on acquiring apartment communities.
When opportunities shifted toward new construction, CWS began developing luxury apartment communities. By the late 1990’s, CWS had merged its manufactured housing division with an affiliate of Security Capital Group to form a private real estate investment trust (REIT) called CWS Communities Trust, which was later sold in 2001 to Chateau Communities, a public REIT, in a transaction in excess of $500 million. By this time, CWS completed its transition from holdings of manufactured homes to exclusively luxury apartment communities.
To this day, CWS continues to specialize in the acquisition, development, management, and disposition of luxury apartment communities around the nation with a portfolio in excess of 29,000 units and $7 billion in market value.