In 2007, Jay Moss became CEO of Mosaic Homes, a fledgling home building enterprise affiliated with privately held developer SunCal. After three-plus decades of home building experience–much of it in KB Home's senior management–Moss feels he has learned to thrive in entrepreneurial operations and process-driven organizations alike. In December, he spoke with senior editor Lisa Marquis Jackson about his aim to blend entrepreneurialism and process at Mosaic.
JM: We are part of the SunCal group of companies, but we buy the land at arm's length, along with others. We will pay the same price as everyone else and compete in the marketplace. We will build in the segments, per community, that they want us to do and that we agree on. The idea is that we don't need a land advantage over anyone else.
BB: That organization is pretty unique.
JM: The whole model is one where I don't have to spend my time worrying about land. ... My time will be spent on quality, cycle time, product design, delivery systems, customer service. It'll truly be a merchant builder. I'll be spending 100 percent of my time on the mechanisms of delivering quality homes of all price ranges.
BB: So there is no baggage to speak of?
JM: Today, home builders are distracted–with good reason. Everyone is thinking about survival, selling houses, and keeping their company going. We are thinking about how we can drive our processes through our company, analyzing components of the home, looking for ways to deliver the home cheaper, better, faster. We are not hung up on the past; we just have the future.
BB: Which is more critical to your success, people or processes?
JM: Well, people are integral with the processes, but people first. I have some very seasoned guys that are excited about the opportunity in front of them. They are committed, dedicated people who are going to show what they are worth in a tough market. Today, all the processes are so important, none much more so than any other. In the last part of the go cycle, land was most important. Sales? Who cared? People were standing in line. Now, nothing is taken for granted.
BB: What is the biggest takeaway from your time at KB?
JM: I think marketing, product design, merchandising–the whole aspect of the sizzle is important. Marketing is not respected enough in our industry. At Mosaic, we are going to be co-branding in a variety of areas, more like other industries do. It will change the way this industry looks.
BB: What is your timeline at this point?
JM: We'll know every cost, every nook and cranny before we start a house. There will be a few communities that we get going in '08, but we are waiting for calmer waters to strut our feathers. Hopefully we will have construction going by the third quarter and will have model homes grand opening by late '08 or the first quarter of '09.
BB: What do you do to unwind outside of home building?
JM: I breathe, sleep, and drink the business, but outside of that, I love to travel. I have four children, two older kids and two younger kids. My oldest girls have their own lives and their own businesses, so it gets a little more difficult to travel with the whole family, but we try. I have been all over the world, and I lived in Paris for a year. It was truly one of my greatest experiences.