On the eve of his 90th birthday, General William Lyon’s namesake company announced that the General, as he is known to one and all employees, has given up the CEO title in favor of his son, William H. Lyon. The General will continue with the company in the newly created role of executive chairman and remain chairman of the board.
Don’t take the title change as a signal that the General is disengaging from the company he has led for many years, cautioned the younger Lyon, 40, who was the company’s president and chief operating officer before the promotion to CEO
“He’s not planning on retiring or slowing down,” he said. “I don’t see him changing his routine. He is still involved in day-to-day management. He is still heavily involved in chairing the executive committee and the land committee. I think he just thought at this point in both our lives it was the right thing to do, with where the market is and things turning around.”
William Lyon Homes has come through a tumultuous few years that included life-saving capital infusions from private equity sources and a pre-packaged bankruptcy that it emerged from after just a few months. The company is now back to buying land and developing communities.
In addition to William H. Lyon’s promotion to CEO, Matthew R. Zaist, the company’s former vice president, became president and chief operating officer of the company.
William H. Lyon started out at his father’s company in 1997 as an assistant project manager. He has also worked as a project manager, director of corporate development, director of corporate affairs, vice president and chief administrative officer, and executive vice president and chief administrative officer. From 2008 to 2009, he was president of William Lyon Financial Services. He became president and chief operating officer in 2009.
Zaist joined the company in 2000 as its chief information officer. Since, he has served in a number of other roles, including executive vice president, corporate vice president—business development and operations, project manager, and director of land acquisition for Lyon’s Southern California region. He oversaw and managed the company’s restructuring efforts and recapitalization.
Teresa Burney is a senior editor for Builder magazine.