As president and CEO, Richard Dugas plans to apply his process-improvement background to distill the business into key focus areas. He says that he plans to focus on three key initiatives:
1. Human Resource Development -- "We think this is all about building leaders for tomorrow," says Dugas. "We take the human side of the equation very seriously." Industry leading programs, like the Top Gun Program, are designed to recognize peer leaders and teach them to become mentors within the company. The newly designed Emerging Leaders program takes chosen employees out of their existing jobs for nine to 12 months and structures a program that teaches them how to become a division president. The company also has developed an active college recruiting program.
Although there is talk that morale problems plague the company, Dugas cites internal cultural surveys and performance appraisals as proof that the company is a great place to work. "I think most people at Pulte, if you surveyed them, would tell you that we treat them well," says Dugas. "This place is the opposite of a meat grinder. We work hard, but we have a lot of fun and I know we have a great culture. We're going to continue to expand and drive that."
2. Aggressive Growth Through Segmentation -- "It's about building for all consumer segments where demand is greater than supply," says Dugas. "We've certainly got different ways that we can grow -- we could buy someone or we could go to a new city -- but we think probably the smartest way for us to grow, with the least risk and greatest potential, is to grow within the markets we already have and drive our market share up in each of those markets, to the point where we're comfortable that we have looked at every opportunity."
While most of the industry classifies consumers into four categories -- entry-level, first- and second-time move-up, and active adult -- Pulte refines that into 11 specific consumer groups. These "targeted consumer groups" are arranged to take advantage of the way people live. An example might be a group of urban buyers more oriented toward a townhome or condo arrangement, who want low-maintenance access to the employment corridors or nightlife. "These 11 different segments represent a huge opportunity for us. We don't have anywhere near the kind of market share that we want to have in any one of our markets," says Dugas. " We think the fact that we are not just an entry-level builder or not just an active-adult builder is a big ticket to our future. We're going to continue to expand the segmentation focus -- partly with Del Webb and partly with markets where we don't build for entry-level."
3. Operational Excellence -- "This is all about, literally, running a good business," says Dugas. "It's about paying attention to the different business metrics that are out there. Not just the financial metrics, but a whole platform of things, like construction efficiency and the quality effort." The Pulte Home Sciences Program, for example, explores alternative construction techniques and ways to bring a product to market that can "change the game in the long run." At their R&D facility in Michigan, the company manufactures foundation panels, floor decks, and exterior wall panels in a controlled environment to deliver a superior product in less time. "We're not satisfied that the product we build today can't be improved upon," says Dugas. "We're looking at the long haul and we're willing to spend money and time on improvements for the future."
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