LGI Homes, the Houston, Texas-based home builder that has rocketed up to No. 44 on the BUILDER 100 list, is expanding once again beyond the borders of the Lone Star State, this time into Florida. A year ago LGI made its first foray outside of Texas when it moved into the Phoenix market.

The builder, which specializes in homes priced to lure renters out of apartments, announced Tuesday that it has hired Todd Fitzgerald, a former K. Hovnanian executive in Florida, to serve as its Florida division president.

At present there’s not much for Fitzgerald to be president of. He’s shopping for land in Central Florida with the goal of having homes to sell by the fall.

“We have a lot of work to do,” says Fitzgerald. “We are searching hard for lot opportunities, developing our floor plans, and really just getting ready to see where our first community is going to be launched.”

LGI is looking to launch in the Tampa area and its submarkets with plans to move from there into the Orlando market. “We are confident that we will be throughout the state at some point,” says Fitzgerald. “I truly believe that we will.”

LGI tends to buy lots in B and C locations, places where they can sell houses to apartment renters for the same monthly payment as their current rent. Its marketing is solely targeted to apartment dwellers. The land also tends to be far enough out so buyers can qualify for the USDA home loan program.

Fitzgerald was vice president of sales and marketing and land acquisitions for First Home Builders, a Florida builder that was bought by K. Hovnanian during the home building boom. When Hovnanian pulled out of the Florida market Fitzgerald lost his job there. For the past few years he has been working for Turn Key developers in the commercial land market.

“When I learned about LGI and was contacted by them, I realized that I really understand their business model,” Fitzgerald said. “It is really exciting for me. I earned my strips in this market niche.”

He’s impressed with LGI’s laser-focused business model, and there is a lot to be impressed with. LGI delivered 627 homes in 2011, up 43% from the previous year. And its revenues were $86 million, up 49%, according to Builder’s BUILDER 100 list.

Teresa Burney is a senior editor for Builder magazine.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Tampa, FL, Phoenix, AZ, Houston, TX.