Unique designs, meticulous scheduling, and a focus on customer service helped A.F. Sterling Homes in Tucson, Ariz., tie for second place in 2004 in a very competitive market.

Randy Agron, the company's COO, says A.F. Sterling offers homes that range from $180,000 to $900,000, but regardless of the price, the company sticks to its consistent construction and design standards.

Agron says each home is built with 2x6 boards versus standard 2x4 boards, mainly to hold more insulation, which helps keep homes cooler in the blazing Arizona heat. A.F. Sterling also uses steel rods in the slab—known in the trade as a post-tensioned slab, which delivers a stronger, more secure foundation. Every A.F. Sterling home also has an indoor air quality system designed by a local integrator that recirculates the air throughout the house.

“You can really tell an A.F. Sterling home. They are unique in comparison to the national production builders” says Agron, adding that all A.F. Sterling homes have distinctive designs featuring radius walls and 45-degree angles.

DISTINCTIVE DESIGN: Arched doorways and wall niches throughout the house are among the design details that keep A.F. Sterling's customer satisfaction high.
DISTINCTIVE DESIGN: Arched doorways and wall niches throughout the house are among the design details that keep A.F. Sterling's customer satisfaction high.

“We have a wide variety of product, but consistent standards,” says Agron. “A $900,000 [home] just has more options, and it's bigger,” he says.

TIME CHECK Rob Brack, the company's vice president of construction, says the bedrock that helps A.F. Sterling maintain consistent quality is the checklist the company uses at the five stages of construction. “The reason for the checklist is that we want to take care of things at the proper time,” says Brack.

“The home buyers are in the house quite a bit. You don't want them seeing you pulling out the drywall,” he explains, adding that “it's very time consuming to pull out the drywall, fix it, then repaint it again. With such a tight labor pool out here, if the trades can't finish their job, it kills their [schedule].”

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Tucson, AZ.