During his two decades with Toll Brothers, Doug Yearley has watched the company grow from a regional builder to one that currently operates in 20 states. His own career trajectory has been equally impressive, rising from an executive assistant acquiring distressed land from owners and banks to being elected Toll Brothers’ chief executive on May 17 by its board of directors. On June 16, the 50-year-old Yearley officially took the reins from the builder’s longtime leader Bob Toll, 69, who continues as executive chairman.
Yearley assumes command of Toll Brothers’ operations at a time of great transition within the home building arena. But he intends to continue following the management and growth blueprint Bob Toll has laid out, armed with $1.6 billion in cash in the bank.
Q: Bob Toll’s legacy and shadow are imposing. How will you make your mark at Toll Brothers?
A: Nobody can fill Bob’s shoes. He is an icon in our industry. I believe we think alike and have similar management styles (although I’m not as well-versed in all of the Yiddish expressions). My mark on Toll Brothers? To maintain a great culture, build our brand, take advantage of growth opportunities, and return us to industry-leading profit margins.
Q: Do you envision changes in Toll’s product mix?
A: In 2003, 70 percent of our business was “farmfield” move-up houses. Today, about 50 percent of our business is attached or active adult, [and] that’s a pretty good indication of where we will be in the future.
Q: You helped launch the company’s City Living division. What role will urban infill play in Toll’s future?
A: Right now it’s about 8 percent of our business. The City Living division will grow, but probably to not more than 15 percent of our overall business.
Q: What are Toll’s expansion plans?
A: During the last recession, we expanded nationally. This time, we will look to grow market share in existing markets. With respect to acquisition, we’ve commented that our industry is fragmented and consolidation should occur. Whether we are a part of that, who knows?