By Jill Ralph.

KB Expands in Texas

The largest home builder in the state of Texas has made a move to expand its coverage to Texas's Rio Grande Valley. KB Home is slated to open a Texas Valley division to serve thousands of first-time and first-move-up buyers in the region. The homes will range in price from $75,000 to $125,000. KB Home currently has operating divisions in Dallas, Houston, Austin, Laredo, and San Antonio.

Bruce Karatz, KB Home chairman and CEO, says he believes expanding into the Rio Grande Valley will enable the company to capitalize on the population explosion in the city of McAllen. The 2000 U.S. Census shows that McAllen lies in the center of a consumer market area that encompasses nearly 4 million people.

Sean Boyd, hired by KB Home in July, will function as the Rio Grande Valley division president. KB Home has opened Home Studio -- the first home builder design studio in the area.

The Big Apple

By agreeing to purchase three residential communities that comprise 435 lots, Pulte Homes has taken a bite out of the big apple: New York. The already entitled communities were purchased from Klein amp; Eversoll Inc. at an undisclosed price. Pulte Homes expects the three Long Island communities to equate to 40 closings in 2003.

The three community projects will include age-qualified, active adult detached homes, as well as non age-restricted single-family detached homes. Homes in the communities will range in price from $400,000 to $520,000.

Don Eversoll and Don Cowdell, the two principals of Klein amp; Eversoll, are slated to become key members of Pulte Homes' management team in Long Island. Klein amp; Eversoll's 25 employees also will work for Pulte Homes.

Industry Movers and Shakers

John J. Hagan has been appointed president and CEO of Prestige Homes, the upscale home building division of Ontario, Calif.-based Empire Companies. Hagan is responsible for the overall performance operations and growth of Prestige Homes. Prior to joining Prestige Homes, Hagan was construction operations president with The Emerald Development Group Inc., a single-family, multifamily, and retirement housing developer.

Richmond American Homes has promoted Jon H. Sasaki to regional vice president of finance. Sasaki will oversee the home builders' three-division Southern California operations. Prior to his promotion, Sasaki was senior vice president of finance for the company's Irvine, Calif., division.

Scott Grafft has been appointed to senior vice president of strategic planning and market development for Fleetwood Enterprises Inc., a producer of manufactured housing. Previously, Grafft was executive vice president of a marketing and customer service company.

Western Services Foundation Inc., a nonprofit affordable housing corporation, has named Graham P. Espley-Jones as president and CEO. Espley-Jones will join WSF's board of directors. Previously, Espley-Jones served as chief financial and administrative officer of Meyers Real Estate Information Inc., and CFO of both Simpson Housing Solution LLC and ARV Assisted Living Inc.

Personnel changes? E-mail Jill Ralph at:

Mold Study

Researchers at Louisiana State University need participants for a new multi-client study on mold that began in December and will continue through June. The sponsorship fee is $2,500. If you are a home builder, home buyer, lumber manufacturer, distributor, realtor, or member of a related field, participation in the study can help improve your knowledge on the current happenings around this highly charged issue.

50-Hour House

In Las Vegas, Pardee Homes of Nevada celebrated its 50th anniversary with the construction of a two-story, 2,046 square foot, Energy Star efficient home built in 50 hours. A 500-member crew completed the home in five, 10-hour days.

Pardee offered daily tours of the home while it was under construction and before it was purchased. In addition to visitors, more than 500 county students were on site to learn more about home construction and the benefits of building an energy-efficient home.

Michael McGee, president and CEO of Pardee, was more than pleased with the results of the 50-hour home. "We all experienced an unexpected sense of pride and attention to detail," says McGee. Working with more than 600 subcontractors, vendors, and employees really "led us to feel so good about the [home building] industry," he says.

According to McGee, the 50-hour house project gave the company exposure across the Las Vegas valley, especially with subcontractors. "I think we'll see more people want to bid our jobs."

Dropping Coverage

Equity research firm Credit Suisse First Boston has announced it is dropping its coverage of two home building companies. Citing lack of liquidity and small market capitalization, Credit Suisse is dropping Champion Enterprises -- which produces and sells manufactured homes -- and Oakwood Homes Corporation -- a producer of manufactured homes mainly in the southeast and southwest. Both manufactured home builders' stocks have been labeled volatile. By Credit Suisse's definition, a stock is considered volatile "if the stock price has moved up or down by 20 percent or more in a month in at least eight of the past 24 months ..."

Tenacious Trio

The former president of Mulvaney Homes has partnered with two industry executives to launch Evergreen Home Builders, a new home building company. Ted Futrelle, First Colony Corp.'s Allen Brown, and Citadel Homes' owner Rick Judson formed the limited liability company in November. The trio hopes to target second and third move-up buyers in the $225,000 to $400,000 price range.

Falling under the Evergreen Home Builders umbrella is the newly formed Evergreen Manor Homes, the already established entry-level home builder Citadel Homes, and a small custom-home company called Evergreen Mountain Homes.

Futrelle, a veteran of the Charlotte home building industry, will be president and CEO of the newly formed Evergreen Home Builders. "Our goal is to go to a 300-unit annual volume," says Futrelle. "So we've got some pretty aggressive growth plans here." Futrelle and his partners hope to gain significant market share within a few years. Their plans call for closing 80 to 90 homes in 2003 and 150 to 160 in 2004. Ideally, says Futrelle, the company will operate at about 300 closes a year.

Evergreen Mountain Homes will build two to three mountain homes a year. The homes will range from $750,000 to $1 million.

Cidadel Homes currently builds about 65 single-family and multifamily homes per year. It will continue to function as a separate company from Evergreen Manor Homes and Evergreen Mountain Homes.

Published in BIG BUILDER Magazine, January 2003