Leadership

We Salute Donald R. Horton, Founder Of 'America's Builder'

Through his career, his customers, his team member associates, his shareholder investors, and, by and large, an ecosystem of business partners, local community stakeholders, etc., learned that D.R. Horton was, is, and will be synonymous with winning.

Leadership

We Salute Donald R. Horton, Founder Of 'America's Builder'

Through his career, his customers, his team member associates, his shareholder investors, and, by and large, an ecosystem of business partners, local community stakeholders, etc., learned that D.R. Horton was, is, and will be synonymous with winning.

May 17th, 2024
We Salute Donald R. Horton, Founder Of 'America's Builder'
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Donald R. Horton – who built his first home in 1978, and went on to build the No. 1 homebuilding enterprise in America – has died, the company announced today.

Saluting him as an industry legend — in the vein a rarefied few individuals and namesakes like Broad, Miller, Pulte, and Toll truly deserve — understates his impact, both on the lives of a million or more people who have lived in D.R. Horton's homes over the years and on the lives of tens of thousands of D.R. Horton team members and associates whose careers gained unflinching clarity of purpose and a decades-long torrent of gratification from countless new-homebuyers under his leadership.

Here is something you may or may not know about Don Horton:

Born in Arkansas, he studied to be a pharmacist before dropping out of the University of Oklahoma to get into the family real estate business. In 1977, he went to work for a builder of standardized homes in Fort Worth but chafed at his employer’s refusal to allow buyers to make changes to existing floor plans; within a year he quit to start his own business." – Texas Monthly

Here's a succinct testament to the legacy of a man who "chafed at his employer's refusal to allow buyers to make changes to existing home plans."

Now based in Arlington, D.R. Horton (NYSE:DHI) ranks among the very largest builders in the United States, closing on 87,801 single-family homes for the 12 months that ended March 31. Its fiscal 2023 revenue of nearly $35.5 billion ranked No. 5 among all public companies based in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro, according to a Dallas Business Journal analysis of securities filings. It also has more than 13,000 employees." – WFAA.com

A LinkedIn posting about Don Horton's passing received an outpouring of tribute, recognition, and celebration of achievement.

In our eyes, Don Horton's unwillingness to tolerate anything other than outperformance will live on permanently as a generational legacy. A mission to offer a Walmart-style, up-and-down Main Street beacon to working people looking to step up into the American Dream of homeownership came with an implicit operative understanding: For customers to "win," sustainably and expansively, D.R. Horton would simply have to outperform – homebuilder rivals, existing home alternatives, economic cycles, financial upheavals – all of them. He brought practically a military-rigor approach to teamwork, discipline, chain of command and accountability, competitiveness, and connection always to the goal of creating more customers.

Through his career, his customers, his team member associates, his shareholder investors, and, by and large, an ecosystem of business partners, local community stakeholders, etc., learned that D.R. Horton was, is, and will be synonymous with winning.

The prize? An American Dream of homeownership accessible to more working households in more localities across more of the economy's up and down cycles.

We've gotten to spend time with and know dozens of people who've worked with Don Horton. His imprint on them, the sheer sense that a livelihood in homebuilding means outperforming, making a win-win-win deal with customers and partners, and excelling especially in times of adversity, will live on and on.

Here's more details from today's release from D.R. Horton:

D.R. Horton, Inc. (NYSE:DHI), America’s Builder, today announced the sudden passing of Donald R. Horton, the Company’s Founder and Chairman of the Board of Directors (“the Board”). David V. Auld, the Company’s Executive Vice Chairman, has been appointed by the Board to serve as Executive Chairman, effective immediately.

“It is with great sadness that I announce the passing of my friend and our Company’s iconic founder and Chairman, Don (“DR”) Horton. Throughout the Company’s 46-year existence, he worked tirelessly to build a national homebuilding operation with a strong company culture, and the impact of his personal involvement with our team of operators across the United States has contributed immeasurable value to our company and people,” Auld said.

Auld continued, “I am deeply grateful to DR for his friendship, leadership and commitment to making D.R. Horton the leading homebuilder in America. DR was truly a pioneer in the homebuilding industry. From the first house he built in 1978 in Fort Worth, Texas as a local homebuilder, he led the business to unprecedented growth regionally and then nationally. Under DR’s leadership, we have had the privilege of helping more than one million American individuals and families achieve homeownership. We are all indebted to DR for his vision, tenacity and never-ending drive to continue to grow and improve our Company. While he is impossible to replace, we will strive to carry on his legacy of enabling the dream of homeownership for individuals and families across the United States in every stage of their lives. Our sincere condolences and prayers go out to DR’s wife, Marty; his sons, Ryan and Reagan; daughters-in law, Stacy and Michelle; their four grandchildren; and the rest of DR’s family.”

Throughout the Company’s history, Don steadfastly maintained a strategy of decentralized operational decision making, which was considered unorthodox by many industry observers. The company’s local leadership teams have been and continue to be empowered to make local business decisions, such as product offerings, price points and home features. Today, we consider this important company tenet a critical ingredient to our past and future success.

Over the years, Don traveled extensively visiting the Company’s field operations. During these visits, he made it a point to meet everyone in the sales offices, job sites and division offices, and he continually emphasized that the people in our operational teams are the key to our business success. Don was approachable and relatable to everyone he met and maintained an unassuming personal lifestyle, as he never forgot his humble beginnings and the hard work it took to succeed.

Don always referred to the Company, including our employees, homebuyers, vendors and subcontractors, as the D.R. Horton family. While the Company has grown significantly, the sentiment remains true, and Don championed several initiatives for the benefit of D.R. Horton employees and their families. He founded a Horton summer camp for employees’ children to enjoy activities in the great outdoors and truly enjoyed leading and actively participating in the summer camp for many years. The D.R. Horton, Inc. Foundation was created to provide financial and other assistance to employees and their families who are victims of natural disasters, helping take care of housing, meals and other personal needs following a disaster. Also, numerous Company employees have experienced individual acts of caring and kindness from Don over the years without him seeking any attention or credit. This culture of family and care for each other will be a longstanding legacy of Don’s commitment to the Company and its employees.

Don, age 74, has served as Chairman of D.R. Horton, Inc. since it was formed in July 1991, and held the roles of President and CEO from July 1991 until November 1998. He was involved in the real estate and homebuilding industries since 1972, and was the founder, sole or principal stockholder, director and president of each of D.R. Horton’s predecessor companies, which date from 1978 to 1990.

Don is survived by his wife Marty and their children Ryan (Stacy) and Reagan (Michelle) and four grandchildren: Douglas, Madeline, Derek and Shelby. Details on a public memorial event to honor Don’s longstanding legacy will be made available at a later date.

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

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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