The ancient Romans pictured Janus, their god of gates and doors, beginnings and endings, as a curly bearded divinity with two faces, each looking in opposite directions, backward and forward. Janus also represented the transition between primitive life and more civilized society, countryside and city, peace and war, and the growing up of young people. The Romans gave us the name of that god for the month of the calendar we adopted, and today January still serves symbolically as the time of year to reflect back with clarity and candor, renew resolve to improve on the past, and prepare both humbly and confidently for what's ahead.
So, it's quite fitting that this month, as BIG BUILDER enters its 10th year as a publication, we take a big step forward in our commitment to you. When Boyce Thompson, the Builder Group editorial director here at Hanley Wood, introduced BIG BUILDER in January of 1997, he wrote that the magazine would devote itself to showing “how the people who run the biggest companies operate—the techniques they use to get the most out of their people, improve their bottom line, establish design leadership, or prepare their company to meet future challenges.” The essence of this mission remains the same. But, the game and its stakes have changed. Back then, by Boyce's estimate, big builders accounted for maybe 20 percent of home building activity, roughly a $31 billion economy. Those numbers are quaint in comparison to today's multi-divisional enterprises, which collectively have gobbled upwards of 40 percent share of new home sales, generating more than $200 billion in annual revenues.
With our new design, editorial direction, and distribution schedule, we're proposing to supercharge BIG BUILDER with time-sensitive information, insider reporting, and tactical decision support, commentary, and data. A big part of this is our frequency. We're going to total 20 issues in 2006, and we're going to ensure through our distribution partners that you get the magazine on your desks much closer to our press dates. What better time than now to get more timely, first-alert, privileged access to information to help you react, plan, and improve.
Just like you, we're in a “Whole New Ballgame.” Even as we go to press, we're seeing market behaviors we haven't seen in years. Changing valuations on land parcels each day are grinding some deals to a halt and rushing others across finish lines of diminishing opportunity. For one, Lennar's concerted strategy to port its master planned community competence into a downtown village-within-a-city towerscape is gravity-defying, both physically and economically. Lennar CFO Bruce Gross told me during a recent visit in New York that Lennar regards its urban master plan concept and investment in Anaheim's Platinum Triangle as just as important to the company's strategic DNA as its acquisitions of U.S. Home in 2000 and Newhall Land & Farming in 2003. Contributing editor Lisa Marquis Jackson's report, starting on page 76, delves into the early planning on the Lennar initiative and illuminates details of how A-Town is not merely a costly new project but a core strategy taking rapid shape.
Cover-to-cover, we've penciled out new sections that we believe up the ante of business information value. “Starts” puts us into the news business, and our promise there is a kaleidoscope of exclusive reports, opportunities, and thought-starters on both the national and local canvas. From Ground Control to Supply Side to Local Intel to Team Play and beyond, we want our magazine to reflect the power, consequence, passion, velocity, multi-dimensionality, and humanity that characterize you, our readers.
Our promise to you is this: We're moving the magazine's value proposition upstream, from instructive—where it is today—to urgent, predictive, and actionable. We'll be delighted if you hold us to it. And as you look briefly back and intently forward, we wish you all the best of health and good fortune in 2006.