David Riedman, @home Builders.
David Riedman, @home Builders.

When David Riedman scrapped the designs of @home Builders’ homes, he knew it was a huge risk. The company—the single-family home subsidiary of Riedman Cos.—builds in Upstate New York and needed to refocus after the recession. Riedman, founder and president of both companies and a Rochester, N.Y., native, recognized that @home needed to streamline operations to better serve its customers.

That’s where consultant John Schleimer stepped in to help. The company had been offering more than 40 different floor plans for homes, many of which they hadn’t sold in years. Schleimer did an extensive study of each floor plan and compared it to the competition.

“Builders can reduce the plan portfolio to a more manageable number,” Schleimer says.

Riedman and Schleimer built off the most successful plans to develop new designs and touches while narrowing the company’s focus down to eight floor plans. Riedman says giving the company a fresh outlook on design provided it with a competitive edge against the largest builders in the area, like Ryan Homes.

“The 40 or 50 plans that we offered were no different than what our competitors were offering,” he says, noting that in New York, “you need a licensed architect to produce a set of drawings. So, right away, from a competitive advantage stance, you’re not any step ahead of the competition if what you’re offering has a very similar look and feel.”

Rethinking the floor plans freshened up @home Builders’ products and boosted its sales. After selling 16 homes in 2008, it sold 29 in 2011. This year, Riedman expects to set a new high with 30 homes sold. “In this business, there is no silver bullet, he says. “But I think it’s an improving climate for home sales. ... It’s like cooking a great meal. You’ve got a lot of the right ingredients coming together and if you’re missing one, you can’t pull it off. Right now, we are doing a lot of things right.”

Coming Home

Riedman graduated with a degree in landscape architecture from Purdue University in 1987. After a year in Ocean City, Md., he returned to Upstate New York for a job with a developer until he started Riedman Cos., with partners, in 1994.

“I found the best way to control the character of a community and get the homes built was to control the vertical and become a home builder myself,” he says.

Riedman contends that one of his best competitive weapons against larger, public builders is his knowledge of the Rochester area and the people who live there. Empty nesters currently are providing the largest opportunity in the area. In addition to single-family homes, the company has diversified to build apartments and condos as well.

“I like the idea very much of having an impact on a community and the aesthetics and place-making,” Riedman says. “I feel very privileged to be part of it in my hometown.”