Winning builders stand firm in recession and sputtering recovery, supported by sophisticated systems, dedication to detail, and buyer-friendly approaches. By Alison Rice
Think you're among the best? Here's a quick self-test. Could you keep your variances under 1 percent on your next house? Have you met every one of your settlement dates for the past 30 years? Who exactly purchases your homes? (And, no, "first-time buyers" doesn't count.) How many of you, in this age of NIMBYism and public fights over planning and zoning proposals, have had a day named in your honor by your city council?
If you can answer yes to these questions, congratulate yourself, for these are the hallmarks of America's Best Builders (ABB): Sattler Homes, Thompson Homes, Don Simon Homes, and Pardee Homes.
They are the best because they excel at everything they do: finance and operations, marketing, construction, customer satisfaction, and community service. As such, they share other characteristics, too. Three of the four are family-owned companies, two of which are now run by the second generation. They value their employees and know how to retain them: Thompson and Don Simon provide profit-sharing programs, and the average tenure among Pardee's senior management is 17.25 years.
These builders also aren't afraid to innovate: Pardee has developed a "LivingSmart" program that features homes with energy-conserving appliances and green products, and Don Simon builds all its homes to Wisconsin's Green Built standards.
|Don Simon Homes|
America's Best Builders continue this practice of innovation long after the awards plaque has been hung on the wall. This year, we're honoring our first ABB alumnus--Wayne Homes, which was named an America's Best Builder in 1995--for its move toward a paperless office. Such success doesn't surprise us. Each of these award-winning companies has based its business not on the energy of a dynamic owner or executive (as charismatic as these leaders might be), but on a strong foundation of systems: schedules, procedures, measurements. They use them daily, not just when time or inclination allows, because they know that systems--the cornerstone of a well-run home building company--can make or break the quality of a home, the trust of a customer, or the profitability of the business.