Weekley, PulteGroup, Tri Pointe Nab 'Best Place To Work' Honors
Fortune's annual spotlight on business culture's best workplaces celebrates three homebuilding organizations that put team members alongside customers as their purpose and commitment points of focus.
The only passage to a brightly lit future of market-rate homebuilding, development, investment heads straight through the clouds of now, real-time. Real-time now is volatile, complicated, testy. Still, that doesn't make real-time the wrong time to celebrate people and teams and organizations who observe in an epic and every-moment way two of homebuilding and residential's few, timeless rules of engagement:
Do the right thing."
We're in the customer service business."
Word, now, is homebuilding's talent staffing, recruitment, and hiring lamp is back on. As both public and private firms adjust to better-than-expected sales and evidence of demand out in the field, they've reignited searches, particularly as they look to nimbly expand operations into new, promising market arenas.
This sudden pivot on adding versus cutting homebuilding talent and capability comes just as publisher Fortune this week recognizes three homebuilding enterprises among its "100 Best Companies To Work For" annual recognition. David Weekley Homes, no surprise, ranks in the top 25 elite, as the organization has done now for 17 years running.
We strive to create a fulfilling work environment for our team members throughout the company,” [founder and chairman David] Weekley said in a press statement. “It’s exciting to see these efforts recognized once again by being included on this prestigious list of the top companies in the nation to work for.”
Digging in, have a look at a word cloud Fortune partner Great Places to Work harvested from among team members at each of the respective organizations in answer to "why you want to go to work" at each one:
What jumps out, of course, when you scan the three word clouds, is the recurrence of team members' emphasis of the weighted importance of "people, team, culture, etc." as reasons to choose these organizations, when there are many others with whom they could explore career opportunities.
What also jumps out here is a tight correlation author Joseph Michelli makes the centerpiece of his work unpacking what makes some of the world's most beloved successful companies continue to excel: the direct relationship of team member experience and customer experience.
This is especially critical at a moment homebuilding and development organizations' team members will serve as either plus or minus forces in the agility, nimbleness, and customer-first holistic business commitment teams will need to draw on to navigate a complicated opportunity-risk landscape ahead.
Confidence at the executive leadership level is gaining traction," says Thomas Carpitella, ceo at national search and strategic advisory firm FTS. "There are a number of builders taking advantage of these times to organically enter new markets."
All In Context
Today counts as a big day for the economy that's flashing mixed signals. For the first time in 23 months, U.S. payroll headcount vacancies fell below 10 million. Yes, it's a single month's Bureau of Labor Statistics reading, and doesn't nearly qualify as a trend.
Still, February's Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey report, coming when it does, sends a signal Fed efforts to cool the economy enough to disinflate consumer and business prices may at last be taking effect.
More jobs data comes our way Friday, with the release of the Labor Department's employment report. If two of the economy's more resilient post-Covid era bright-spots – a strong employment economy with low unemployment and a strong household and consumer spending trend – start to weaken, homebuilders' need for agility, speed, leanness, and capability intensifies, magnifying in each case, the quality of new team members over their sheer numbers.
To pinpoint the singular kind of focus that leaders need with respect to the new talent they bring on in this tricky environment, have a look at what we observed last April as we gave a nod to one of homebuilding business culture's true leaders:
It was late Spring 2010. After what were the worst couple of years of the Great Recession's toll on new home starts and sales, many people in the business were tentatively emerging from a fetal position. Many homebuilders – the ones who had made it alive through the worst of it – were a sixth or a quarter of their former enterprise selves. A sparsely attended annual executive conference of the community's leaders was a petri dish of traumatized survivors. Most of them felt good and sorry for themselves.
Among the event's speakers, somebody had to go last.
For people who program and produce live, in-person executive business events, cracking the code of who goes in that final bookend program slot is a kind of Holy Grail. That year, in a darkened auditorium, the handful of people who were still left to hear the final speaker at the two-and-a-half day executive homebuilding conference in Scottsdale had their roller-bags packed in the back of the room, and they couldn't wait to just get away. Crickets.
David Weekley's eyes shone as they pierced directly back into the glare of the spotlight as he spoke on the stage. He'd drawn the short straw as the event's closer.
He talked as he talks, plain and simple. After a couple of days of listening to his peer executives' war stories of business and financial hardship, his message was not about the plight of David Weekley Homes. Rather, he reminded the few of us still sitting there to hear, the people the company tries to serve as customers and what they'd had to endure, and the people whose livelihoods took a hit during the housing crash, and their loss.
This is not ever about us," David told a far-too-sparsely-filled room of his home building company executive peers. "This is always about our customers."
And make no mistake. As David Weekley talked with those few principals, owners, senior strategists back then, he was not referring in the strictest sense only to buyers of Weekley homes. Rather, a customer in the sense he uses the term, includes team member associates, business partners, trades, and anybody who's chosen to engage with a firm that bears his family's name.
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