Leadership

Dream Finders Taps Liesel Cooper As Regional President

The exiting Century Communities national president will head up a newly scoped region that will include working with the Crescent Homes team and Dream Finders' Colorado operations.

Leadership

Dream Finders Taps Liesel Cooper As Regional President

The exiting Century Communities national president will head up a newly scoped region that will include working with the Crescent Homes team and Dream Finders' Colorado operations.

March 7th, 2024
Dream Finders Taps Liesel Cooper As Regional President
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On the heels of its acquisition of Charleston, S.C.-based Crescent Homes in a thrust across South Carolina and into the torrid Greater Nashville markets, Dream Finders Homes is tapping a big-name talent in homebuilding operations and marketing – Liesel Cooper – to head up a newly-scoped region that will include working with the Crescent team as well as Dream Finders' Colorado operation.

Cooper, starting effective immediately, brings just shy of four decades of customer-driven operational leadership and experience to one of public homebuilding's more recent blue-sky growth stories. Her personal and career story have inspired others, starting as she did in homebuilding by opting out of college to get her foot in the door with the mortgage company of Kaufman & Broad in Los Angeles in 1986 after attending a "career night" event.

The rest is history.

Cooper's new leadership role at Dream Finders reunites her with former MDC/Richmond American colleague Doug Moran, whom Cooper regards as a big influence in her decision to make the big career move now. As we noted at the time of the Crescent deal, the transaction gave Dream Finders an immediately bolstered operational presence – with an established, feisty, fire-in-the-belly-style entrepreneurial counter-puncher, Crescent Homes founder Ted Terry – in a Nashville market notorious for its tough regional land game gantlet. What's more, the Crescent operating footprint will now expand Dream Finders westward, from South Carolina's coastal/Myrtle Beach markets into both Charleston and the Greenville/Spartanburg market area.

Image shows U.S. operating footprint of Dream Finders Homes on the east coast, Texas, and Colorado
Image source: company filings

That's now a go-get Liesel Cooper will take on, not to mention a Colorado market that's one of the nation's most dynamic new home construction and real estate marketplaces right now.

For 10 years, Cooper has brought a repertoire of operational canny and marketing creativity to Denver-based Century Communities, where she started as executive vice president overseeing regional market operations and most recently served as national president, driving innovations on the marketing, sales, land, purchasing, and buyer experience front.

In January 2022, when Century introduced its system-wide, industry-first "buy-now" capability, Cooper told us:

It's proving out, being able to buy when it's convenient for the buyer, and wherever they are, and removing the barriers to doing that is a capability that's showing up as important to our buyers," Liesel Cooper notes. "Of course, these relationships very frequently do start at our sales offices, or with our online sales assistants, who are integral to adding value and deepening the level of engagement with our customers. Now that we've got the platform fully active, it's fascinating to see the 'buy now' activity that occurs at 6:30 am, for instance. This may be after a visit to the sales model or with a sales associate, and a kitchen table family huddle the night before, we're seeing that 'buy-now' contract notification first thing in the morning, or after dinner in the evening."

Reflecting quantum leaps in technology and consumer experience focus in the post-pandemic era; many homebuilders have adopted more advanced – simplifying and speeding – home shopping and purchase experiences as table stakes capabilities. The greater challenges for human, technological, and data capabilities in homebuilding sales, marketing, and sustainably profitable business and operations mean fusing the respective customer-focus and operational excellence skill-sets that Cooper has developed in a real-time, asset-light, competitive context that narrows margin-of-error cushions to non-existence.

I can't tell you how much I learned working for Dale and Rob [Francescon]," Cooper tells us. "They truly care about their people, and I've been a big beneficiary of that for all my years there."

An irrepressibly core characteristic of Cooper in her 38 years as a homebuilding up-and-comer and now as a business and operational leader is her competitive nature. In Patrick Zalupski and in Dream Finders Homes, which he founded and serves as Chairman and CEO, Cooper has met a fellow traveller on the path of homebuilding's most competitive personalities.

One sign of that could not be clearer.

They asked me if I wanted some time before I start, and I thought, what am I going to do, just sit around and relax?" Cooper tells us. "No way, I'm starting there on Monday, and I can't wait."

Cooper will have her work and challenges cut out for her. In our analysis of the Crescent Homes acquisition a couple of weeks ago we noted:

The Dream Finders acquisition of Crescent, while not as large as its last major acquisition – the 2021 purchase of Texas-based homebuilder McGuyer Homebuilders, Inc. and related affiliates for $475 million – may be strategically as important. The Crescent platform – with an infusion of capital – could expand the Dream Finder's capability, powering it to ignite faster-growth in a Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern market growing both organically and due to in-migrating young adults, families and 55-plus households seeking affordability and lifestyle upgrades.
Per the Dream Finders press statement:
Crescent serves entry-level, as well as first and second-time move-up homebuyers with price points starting in the low-$300,000s, and has over 25 active selling communities."
Once Dream Finders took off in early 2020 as a public company, it leap-frogged scores of players into the heady competitive arena occupied by the nation's top 15 homebuilding enterprises. Its purchase of Crescent Homes illustrates that Dream Finders' ultimate goal under founder CEO Patrick Zalupski is no less ambitious than to play right alongside in the top five, with the organization that inspired its business model: NVR."

Now, the job is not just to be inspired by the business model, but rather to become as good as NVR. Cooper's the kind of leader and operator anybody would want on their team with a challenge like that.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John McManus

John McManus

President and Founder

John McManus, founder and president of The Builder’s Daily, is an award-winning editorial, programming, and digital content strategist. TBD's purpose is a community capable of constant improvement.

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John McManus, founder and president of The Builder’s Daily, is an award-winning editorial, programming, and digital content strategist. TBD's purpose is a community capable of constant improvement.

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