Willie Petersen

Profile: David Lemnah

Title: Co-founder and president
Company: Lokal Homes
Location: Denver
Previous Experience: Pricewaterhouse Coopers, Richmond American Homes
Philosophy: Builders need to take responsibility for knowing their costs and make trade partnerships a priority.
Favorite Business-Related Book: Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman

David Lemnah is putting his extensive industry experience to work in his new endeavor as co-founder of a private home building startup.

Beginning his career at PricewaterhouseCoopers, Lemnah consulted on supply chain management with clients like Siemens, The Walt Disney Co., and the Department of Defense—“great companies that really have a focus and a deliberate strategy on managing the supply chain,” he says.

He then spent nearly a decade with Richmond American Homes and moved up to national vice president of purchasing and logistics before co-founding Lokal Homes two years ago. The company is looking to build 100 to 150 homes in 2015.

At Richmond American, “I think we got a lot of things right,” he says. “We really organized purchasing in a way that you would expect it to be if it was really important.”

As with the home building industry at large, much of that strategy was impacted by the recession, which illustrated the need to streamline operations and enable better information sharing, Lemnah explains. The downturn also drove home the importance of designing to cost and looking at design, engineering, and purchasing holistically. Ultimately, Lemnah says, meeting cost objectives and finding efficiencies are things for which builders must hold themselves accountable.

“At the end of the day, it costs what you design it to cost—or at least it should—and it’s up to you to pull that through and make sure that works,” he adds.

To drive efficiency, especially when dealing with the high SKU and takeoff levels inherent to home building, being mindful and communicating openly with trade partners is essential.

“Even though you may ask tough things of subcontractors, you need to treat everybody with respect,” Lemnah says. “These days, it’s all about being the builder of choice. The trade partners have a lot of leverage … but if you’re a good builder and you do a lot of things right, you can and will be sought after.”