KB Home 2006 rank:5

1986 rank:27

Jeff Mezger built his first house when he was about 12 years old. He got the wood and steel from his dad, a Chicago-area builder.

OK, so it was a tree house. But Mezger has been growing as a builder ever since. He left U.S. Home in 1993 to become KB Home's Antelope Valley division president in California. He then went to Phoenix to grow that fledgling unit before becoming regional president for Nevada and Arizona, a post in which he oversaw the integration of acquisition Lewis Homes.

Reflecting on changes in the industry, Mezger says, “We're far more focused on the customer than we were 20 years ago.”

That reality is manifested at KB through its philosophy of customer choice. As some builders scale back to improve efficiencies, KB is offering more floor plans, exterior elevations, and interior options—all while embracing its evenflow strategy, which the company pioneered for big builders with the 1996 acquisition of evenflow innovator Rayco Homes.

Look for Mezger to lead the charge on continued growth, both organically and through acquisition. “There's a lot of consolidation opportunity still,” he says.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Phoenix, AZ, Chicago, IL.