Steve Wall, a former turnaround strategist at Texas powerhouse Choice Homes, founded Arlington, Texas?based Wall Homes in April 2005. Backed by $50 million from private equity firm Warburg Pincus, Wall's company secured beachheads in four Texas markets. In June, Wall acquired the assets of TOUSA's Dallas/Fort Worth division of Newmark Homes. The deal brought Wall's Dallas unit control of more than 3,000 lots, a 75 percent increase for the company. Wall, his wife, Pam, and three children–Justin, Jacob, and Allison–live in Dallas. He spoke with senior editor Lisa Marquis Jackson the day after he closed on the acquisition.
SW: Yes, we have been. It's been a lot of work, but it's also exciting.
BB: From the beginning, your plan has been to expand. Why is this [Newmark acquisition] one of the right pieces of the puzzle for you?
SW: If you asked me [two years ago], did I think we would buy a builder or buy assets of a builder–specifically in Dallas–I would have said 'no.' If we were going to buy, it might be in a market outside [Dallas]. But, the opportunity came. It was precisely the market segment that we are really focused on: the move-up market. They were in positions where we weren't, [and] it was a price that got our attention. We got terrific value on the assets based on the times.
BB: Did you consider any other Newmark assets in other markets? Were those presented to you?
EW: No, we didn't. We might, and we would. But we've been so wrapped up in [this deal] that we haven't really explored anything beyond that.
BB: Your business is going to need to expand to support the fact you've just doubled in size. What are you doing to make changes?
SW: We put a healthy infrastructure in on day one, expecting to grow quickly. For us, the corporate infrastructure is in place to handle the new units and so forth. We're not going to assume [Newmark's] corporate offices. We are going to take its design center because it's well-placed and well-positioned for us. We'll absorb that and the people who will be managing that. The division structure we're changing slightly. Where we've added people is in the field, of course. We've brought on new salespeople and new construction people in order to be able to build and sell them.
BB: Let's talk about your passions outside the office. I understand, with your kids, you're not just a coach on life, but also in sports?
SW: I've been coaching them all since they were very small–ever since they started playing sports. I'm doing summer baseball right now. Next year, the boys will be in 7th grade, and the professionals will be taking care of them.
BB: I also understand you are a historical biography buff ? an avid reader in general?
SW: I've got all kinds of books, yes. And it seems like every time I get them organized, I end up with another stack somewhere. I'm a compulsive reader, I guess. Maybe, I should say, I'm a compulsive book purchaser.
BB: What's the last book you read?
SW: I tend to read a couple at a time. I've got a couple [titles] I've been reading. One is a book called "Firing Back," by Jeffrey Sonnenfeld and Andrew Ward. The other is Michael Beschloss' "Presidential Courage." You always hear about the glory of some of the older presidents, but you don't hear about some of the real troubles that they had.
BB: Should I assume that you have pre-ordered the upcoming last installment of the Harry Potter series?
SW: You know, my kids [have] read every one of them and I have not. But, I feel like it's my loss and one of these days I just may do that.
Learn more about markets featured in this article: Dallas, TX.