Founded out of the back of a truck in 1992, Meridian, Idaho-based builder CBH Homes has soared to the No. 1 spot among Idaho builders and number 47 on BUILDER’s Top 100. The company has kept a leg up against competitors while adapting to labor shortages, rapidly changing markets, and exponential expansion of technology. In October, CBH reported that it has obtained 711 building permits for Ada and Canyon Counties, year to date -- double that of the next Idaho builder.
Recently, CBH Homes vice president Ronda Conger made Constructech Magazine’s 2017 Women in Construction list, which recognizes women in the industry who are using and promoting innovative technologies. BUILDER talked with Conger to learn more about her approach to technology, and the leadership strategy that propelled CBH Homes to the top of the Gem State housing market.
A self-proclaimed “industry junkie,” Conger has spent 14 of her 25 years in the industry acting as CBH VP. In partnership with owner and founder Corey Barton, Conger pushes CBH to “build more, do more, be better, be faster,” whether that means implementing a new system or expanding in a new direction. When it comes to technology, CBH is “always tweaking and adjusting, adding and training, and bringing in specialists to figure out how we can do something faster and better,” Conger explains. CBH also maintains strong relationships with software companies who can tailor their systems to keep them on the cutting edge.
“From a buyer side, technology has changed the customer experience 100 percent,” Conger explains, and tools like CBH’s virtual design studio aim to provide a more streamlined customer experience.
The next few years will be interesting for CBH, as the market’s second biggest builder in terms of market share, Coleman Homes (8.2%), was acquired by Toll Brothers in late 2016. (Click here for related article.)
In Conger’s years with the firm, she has seen how labor shortages have drastically changed the way home building companies operate. CBH has responded by buying and staffing its own heating and air company, interior finish company, and truss plant. Nine months ago, the company started wall pack production at their truss plant, framing wall panels which they then send to on-site framers. “We have saved an entire day on our construction schedule, [with] the added benefit of less waste, and more consistency in our end product,” says Conger.
Although CBH may be well-situated to weather the labor shortage, the company actively promotes careers in home building to “get people excited about being a trade again,” Conger explains. Barton talks to students in Boise State University’s construction management program and other local schools about perks of a home building career. Additionally, CBH breaks down any barriers or stereotypes that might prevent women from pursuing careers in the industry, by employing a staff that is 65 percent female.
Besides Barton, a few designers, and the IT team, “the only roles that aren’t filled by women are our superintendents, and we’ve been trying to find one, by the way,” Conger jokes. She advises women considering careers in the industry to “be so good they can’t ignore you...be very clear on what you want and where you’re going, and go get it.” This is an attitude shared by all CBH employees, Conger says.
“We’re all like-minded people who want to grow, who want to be better...achievers, activators, people who want to be kept very busy.” Instead of letting industry obstacles limit their performance, Conger states, “we’re going to guarantee our own success.”