KB launches a start up. By Iris Richmond

The last time KB Home started a division from scratch was in 1997 in Austin, Texas, where it is the largest builder. Now, the California-based company is doing it again, this time in Tampa, Fla.

The move into Florida's third-largest city follows KB's purchase of Trademark Homes in Jacksonville in July 2001. Last year, Tampa issued more than 11,000 single-family permits. "We did review potential acquisition candidates in Tampa," says COO Jeff Mezger, "but elected to enter the market 'de novo' instead. That strategy does not preclude us from acquiring a builder in Tampa as we grow our business."

KB hopes to buy finished or entitled lots so it can hit the ground running. Though the optimal home size has yet to be set, prices will range from $100,000 to $175,000 with a focus on first-time buyers. "The division's goals are to have communities open by the end of 2002 and to be a good business partner in the area. Local builders get mad when you say you're going to be the best," Mezger says.

KB is committed to penetrating the Florida market and will be entering other cities in the state, Mezger says. KB Homes expects to sell 600 homes in Jacksonville in 2002, and 23,000 homes as a company, including in France.

Top Builders in Tampa

Company Sales (in units)
Lennar Corp. 1,354
Ryland Homes 931
Pulte Corp. 588
Westfield Homes USA 553
M/I Schottenstein Homes 550
Inland Homes 431
American Heritage 344
Suarez Housing Corp. 328
Morrison Homes 324
Centex Corp. 320

Source: BUILDER Magazine

BIG BUILDER Magazine, March 2002