Alan B. Levan
Levitt and Sons already was in slow-growth mode when the market stalled in 2006. Parent company Levitt Corp. had tapped the brakes in 2004 after a rapid increase in sales to make sure its internal systems could support long-term goals.
The company was reorganized, key management positions were filled, and computer platforms were unified. All those costs, along with poor sales, contributed to a net loss of $9.2 million in 2006.
“Sales are anemic, and we've increased our overhead in order to have a better infrastructure,” CEO Alan B. Levan says. “While we're suffering through a fair amount of pain today, we feel we are in a much better position to deal with these challenges today than we would have been two years ago.”
Efforts in 2006 to address the flagging market ranged from incentives to cutting headcount, but the biggest impact came from returning to the basics of selling houses instead of just taking orders for contracts. “We're back to sales and marketing 101,” Levan says.
In January 2007, Levan's BFC Financial, a financial holding company that already owned roughly 17 percent of Levitt, bought the builder outright, improving its debt picture and giving it access to new capital.
Next 100 Snapshot Next 100 builders did not fare as well in the soft housing market as their larger brethren in the BUILDER 100. The average Next 100 builder closed 448 homes in 2006, a decrease of 9.5% from 495 homes in 2005. The Next 100, which closed a combined 44,824 homes, had a 3.9% share of the total housing market in 2006. With 97 companies reporting their revenue, the average Next 100 company grossed $168.6 million, $23.4 million less than in 2005, but $18.6 million more than 2004.