Over the years, more than a thousand home and apartment building companies have ranked among the top 100 builders in our annual list. But just 11 have made the cut every year: Centex Corp., Hovnanian Enterprises, Jim Walter Homes, KB Home, Lennar Corp., M.D.C. Holdings, NVR, Pulte Homes, The Ryland Group, Standard Pacific Corp., and Weyerhaeuser Real Estate Co.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the BUILDER 100 Conference. As we celebrate that milestone, we're looking back at how home building has changed for the BUILDER 100 during the last 20 years and how the group itself may change the industry in the future. The performance of our 11 perennial BUILDER 100 members shows just how much top home builders have grown: They started 58,525 homes in 1985, when the top 100 builders captured 23.95 percent of the new-home market. Last year, they closed 239,272 units and helped the BUILDER 100 achieve a total market share of 36.57 percent. Along the way, they branched out beyond their home states, developed plans designed to appeal to a wider variety of buyers, reduced their debt, increased their profits, and acquired other builders.

As the top builders look toward the future, they say they'll continue to grow by taking market share from smaller competitors. But their success will hinge, too, on their abilities to weather the current slowdown, to meet the demands of new buyer segments, to improve their efficiency—and to compete with each other. Twenty years from now, we should know which BUILDER 100 companies met those challenges and emerged stronger and larger.

From top to bottom, left to right: top row: Stuart Miller, Lennar Corp.; second row: Timothy Eller, Centex Corp.; William Pulte, Pulte Homes; and Stephen Scarborough, Standard Pacific Corp.; third row: Mark O'Brien, Jim Walter Homes; R. Chad Dreier, The Ryland Group; and Dwight Schar, NVR; bottom row: Ara Hovnanian, Hovnanian Enterprises; Bruce Karatz, KB Home; Larry Mizel, M.D.C. Holdings; and Dan Fulton, Weyerhaeuser Real Estate Co.

From top to bottom, left to right: top row: Stuart Miller, Lennar Corp.; second row: Timothy Eller, Centex Corp.; William Pulte, Pulte Homes; and Stephen Scarborough, Standard Pacific Corp.; third row: Mark O'Brien, Jim Walter Homes; R. Chad Dreier, The Ryland Group; and Dwight Schar, NVR; bottom row: Ara Hovnanian, Hovnanian Enterprises; Bruce Karatz, KB Home; Larry Mizel, M.D.C. Holdings; and Dan Fulton, Weyerhaeuser Real Estate Co.