The jury has reached its verdict: The home building industry's "Most Admired Big Builder" for 2003 as voted by its peers is Centex Homes.

The honor was one of a handful of APEX Awards bestowed upon big builders in November based on a national survey of home building managers and executives who were asked to rank Builder 100 companies for a variety of management and leadership practices.

The winners of the first-ever APEX Awards were chosen using an electronic survey, sent out nationally via e-mail to readers of Big Builder and Builder magazines. Builder 100 firms were ranked in five major categories: best leadership and management; best operational excellence and efficiency; most innovative product design; best community relations/public service; and best job delivering affordable housing. Builders also received points for being noted as the company "I'd most want to work for."

Winners in each category receive Big Builder magazine's APEX Award for outstanding management and leadership practices. Centex Homes received the most votes overall, to be named "Most Admired Big Builder." Avatar Holdings, of Coral Gables, Fla., and Habitat for Humanity International, of Americus, Ga., finished second and third, respectively.

Winning APEX Awards in the individual categories:

Centex Homes also placed first when survey respondents were asked what Builder 100 company is best noted for "operational excellence and efficiency." When asked what Builder 100 company offers the "most innovative product design, in both homes and communities," survey respondents named Avatar Holdings first.

In the area of developing "community relations" and engaging in "public service," survey respondents named Habitat for Humanity International in first place.

The APEX in Perception
Most Admired Builder 100 companies:
1. Centex Homes
2. Avatar Holdings
3. Habitat for Humanity
4. Pulte Homes
5. MDC Holdings
6. Lennar Corp.
7. Beazer Homes
8. Toll Brothers
9. Crosswinds Communities
10. David Weekley Homes

Source: BIG BUILDER magazine survey 2003

When asked which Builder 100 company does the best job "delivering affordable housing," survey respondents named Habitat for Humanity International in first place.

Wyatt Kash, editor of Big Builder magazine, praised the winners at the APEX Awards ceremony during the inaugural Big Builder '03 Conference Nov. 11-13 in Las Vegas, noting the strides big builders have made in management practices.

The APEX Awards were founded in large part to help elevate the home building profession as an industry offering tremendous opportunities for talented business, financial, sales, and marketing professionals. "Today's leading home builders represent some of the best and most professionally managed companies in America. This APEX Award recognizes those companies which are seen by their peers as being the best in the business of building the American Dream," said Kash. The APEX Awards also recognize not only corporate excellence, but public spirit, he added.

The survey was based on the votes of 511 completed surveys submitted by qualified home building industry executives, with a margin of error of 3.6 percent with a 90 percent confidence interval. Any builder from the Hanley Wood 2002 "Builder 100" list of the nation's biggest builders was eligible to win. The survey was commissioned by Big Builder magazine and administered by Wagner Media, Marketing & Surveys, of Raleigh, N.C.