2014 BUILDER 100 Company Profiles


Neal Communities

Location: Sarasota, Fla.
Year Founded: 1970
2013 Rank: 50
2013 Closings: 769
Growth Since 2012: 58%
Metrostudy Says: Sarasota experienced a 51.3 percent increase in starts market wide in 2013. In the first draft of first quarter numbers, starts are about 3 percent in the Sarasota market, and we're anticipating a 10 percent to 15 percent growth overall in the market this year. In a normalized year, 5,000 to 6,000 homes would be built in Sarasota, and we're still building less than 4,000. So there is volume growth needed to get back to "normal," and Neal Communities right now is holding that market share.

How does a builder increase closings by 41 percent in one year? Family-owned Neal Communities of Southwest Florida took several steps over the past few years to achieve that impressive number, says CEO Pat Neal (pictured). “We watched where the market went, and we adjusted our home plans radically,” to reduce costs. Those adjustments touched everything from the number of product selections to materials to window size to electric and plumbing home runs.

The switchover succeeded, Neal says, because of improved and streamlined operating systems and processes, and thanks to employees’ positive attitudes and skills. “We build a better home today than we did in 2005, much more quickly and very profitable,” he says.

The builder also fine-tuned purchasing processes, changed home designs, reduced advertising while continuing to do marketing, and took advantage of the land it owned. Staff handles land acquisition, development, and building.

“We learned to compete with the public builders on value proposition,” Neal explains. “We think we are as efficient as the public builders with a much better land plan, home product, and customer service.”

In 2013, Neal Communities acquired 13 parcels of land, opened 10 new communities, and launched a south Florida division based in Bonita Springs. Almost three-fourths of its business were move-up homes, 16 percent were entry level, and 11 percent were luxury. Most sales last year were single-family homes, but townhomes and condos contributed to the mix.

The company purchased four more parcels earlier this year and plans to build about 12 new communities. Next year, the builder hopes to expand north of its current locations, extending its reach to Hillsborough County.

The prospects are boundless, thanks to an influx of baby boomer retirees in the area. Neal points to data that shows approximately 19 percent of all Americans spend at least part of their retirement in Florida. “This is a time of great opportunity,” he says.

Source: Builder 100 data

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Orlando, FL, Bradenton, FL.