In 2016, about 65% of Dan Ryan Builders' 1,625 buyers across a six-state swath of the middle-Atlantic region were first-time home buyers. Average selling prices clocked in at $261,790 last year. Just 10% of its buyers come out of the 2nd-move-up and "downsize" market of aging consumers, but that's about to change.

This year, the company's introducing a new 55+ platform--Elevate Homes--an age-targeted offering that packages moderate amenities, a set of distinctive floorplans at the base level, and a range of optionality that will allow buyers flexibility in personalizing their 55+ home.

The company has been on a healthy growth spurt for several years, having last year spiked 18.7% in unit deliveries, which catapulted the Frederick, Md.-based builder up two notches in our Builder 100 rankings, to the No. 31 spot. Progress and progression up the Builder 100 rankings have been a steady story for the organization, which crossed the 1,000 homes threshold in 2013, with 1,010 deliveries, and made gains in unit volume of 23.6% in 2014, 9.6% in 2015, and last year's 18.7% leap.

One of the reasons Dan Ryan Builders sold a 60% stake in its enterprise to Sumitomo Forestry last January was that Dan wanted to keep growing, which essentially meant being able to compete for land positions that would fit its strategic niche and enable the company to scale in its Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina markets.

The company competes in these markets as a "counter-puncher," looking to outfox heftier, more well-heeled big public builders in the region on an affordability, quality, and service promise, with a strong lean on the personal reputation and integrity of its principal Dan Ryan and the team he's built around him.

The Elevate strategy is a smart one for Dan Ryan Builders, partly in that it opens up a new customer-segmentation channel that runs true to the company's price-range positioning. What's more, it begins to leverage that well-regarded reputation for integrity among those who were the company's "first-time buyers" of another era, the early 1990s, when Ryan started his own company.

Resort-style, Sun Belt state, high-end retirement lifestyle communities may have fueled the active adult customer segment in years past, but a new, much more connected, less-heavily amenitized business model for 55+ age-targeted neighborhoods has emerged, and a differentially attainable position, the one that D.R. Horton's fledgling Freedom platform is after, will give Dan Ryan room to grow.

Here's an insight-filled piece digital jobs website economist Jed Kolko just did. The analysis explores how connected 55+ are apt to be, given that many of those consumers are nowhere near actually retiring. One Kolko nugget from the piece notes:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that 25% of the labor force in 2024 will be 55 or older. That’s up from 22% in 2014 and just 12% in 1994. In part, the workforce is aging because the population is aging: although the most common ages today are twentysomethings, seniors are, by far, the fastest-growing age group. But in addition, the labor force participation rate is projected to grow most for older adults — in other words, tomorrow’s seniors will retire later than yesterday’s and today’s did.