Kyle Monk

Profile: Kelley Wiggins

Title: Director of purchasing
Company: Brookfield Residential
Location: Costa Mesa, Calif.
Philosophy: Be a great builder partner for your trades. Treat them with respect; pay them in a timely manner; provide good, detailed information; and communicate clearly.
Favorite Business-Related Book: Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

For Kelley Wiggins, the answer to most of Brookfield Residential’s supply chain challenges lies in forging strong relationships with trade partners.

During the recession, instead of cutting back on subcontractors, Wiggins focused on keeping them busy and supplying them with as much work as possible, even as the company’s total revenue dropped to nearly a quarter of pre-recession levels. She knew that eventually the tables would turn and she’d be asking them to do the same for Brookfield Residential. “Hopefully now that the tides have kind of changed, they’re remembering us when their labor pool is very tight,” Wiggins says.

Those strong relationships also are helping keep costs down as the firm grapples with increasing product costs. Wiggins keeps the lines of communication open with her trade partners and lets them know when more work is coming down the line. “The trades seem less quick to go ahead and pass on a price increase on an existing contract when they know that they’re going to have more work coming right behind it,” she says.

It’s no wonder Wiggins has found success in the home building industry. Growing up, she wanted to be a lawyer. But home building is in her blood—her uncle was a contractor and her mother worked for a builder—and when she landed a temp job at Brookfield Residential after college, she felt at home. When her term was up, Brookfield Residential didn’t want to let her go and she didn’t want to leave.

Fifteen years later, Wiggins now leads the purchasing department, and she is finding new ways to improve communication with cutting-edge technology from sharing digital files instantaneously to video conferencing. The newest and most exciting addition: BIM technology. The computer-aided modeling software is increasing visual communication and allows Brookfield Residential to catch problems before they happen. “I definitely see a lot of potential in it,” Wiggins says. “It’ll definitely shake up the world once it becomes more mainstream.”