Twelve leading publicly traded home builders have united to form the Public Home Building Council of America (PH BCA), a coalition of CEOs and their communications officers determined to promote a different point of view about big builders versus home builders at large (see "Roll Call," below).
While stock evaluations remain an underlying issue, PHBCA founders hope to pierce perceptions that the reputation of home building as a cyclical, interest-rated dependent industry prone to bubbles, booms, and busts, no longer applies to the large, publicly traded builders that dominate 30 percent of the market.
"We are two industries, really," contends Neil Devroy, vice president of communications and public affairs at Centex Homes, in Dallas. Devroy says he hopes the group's plans to get the public CEOs in front of media executives with aggregated data on land and cash reserves will persuade Main Street investors to view the public builders more like big consumer companies rather than as traditional home building concerns.
James Zeumer, vice president of investor and corporate communications at Pulte Homes, in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., notes that reporters and analysts rely on national home building data in their articles, and these figures are dominated by the 75,000 to 100,000 small builders in the country.
Richard Anderson, senior vice president at New York's Fleishman Hillard, who will be handling PHBCA's 2004 roll-out, observes that focusing on stock price tends to sound "self-serving." If you educate people over time about the fundamentals of a "new industry"--large home builders--the stock price will follow, he says.
The new council, which gained CEO funding and support in the fall of 2003, will make its formal debut at this month's International Home Builder Show in Las Vegas. Backed by what Zeumer characterized as significant flat-fee contributions from each member company, the PHBCA's communications strategy will include meeting in small groups with national and regional media. It's expected that other builders will join the PHBCA in the coming months.
The newly formed Public Home Builder Council of America plans to make its debut at the International Home Builder Show, mounting a multi-year effort to reshape Main Street's perception of big builders. The current roster includes:
* Beazer Homes USA
* Centex Corp.
* Hovnanian Enterprises
* KB Home
* Lennar Corp.
* MDC Holdings
* Meritage Corp.
* Pulte Homes
* Ryland Group
* Standard Pacific Homes
* Toll Brothers
* WCI Communities