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CEO Larry Webb of The New Home Company Shares his Passion for the Homebuilding Industry & its Future
The homebulding industry is about people, not sticks, bricks, and land.
The overall vision of TNHC is to “Build a Better Life,” that is, provide their customers with a home and a community to live it. Larry is passionate about building homes and believes it to be a noble profession. He thinks that with this belief comes the responsibility to go beyond what has already been accomplished. To drive progress, customer satisfaction needs to be measured. TNHC knows their buyers, stands in their shoes, and builds for them. They survey all new home buyers thirty days, five months, and ten months after move in. Larry reads every single survey and acts on the information.
As a testament to the company’s vision and ability to execute, TNHC reports a cancellation rate of 8%, much better than the typical rate of 15 to 20%. TNHC received the Community of the Year award for the past six years and awards for Best Customer Service three years in a row.
Larry’s thirty years of success are distinguished by a conscientious approach towards clients, communities, and employees. He was CEO and President at firms such as John Laing Homes and KB Homes as well as AM Homes. In addition, he served on the boards of the charities HomeAid America and Interval House. As a soccer coach early on in his career, Larry understands the importance of getting the right people and helping them succeed. He believes that people matter and he never accepts mediocrity and failure. He wants to win.
During 2009, The New Home Company was founded on these same principles. Larry leads the company’s overall vision, strategic planning, and policy making. He is recognized for his strength in design and, most importantly, for building the right team. TNHC started with four employees and quickly grew to twenty-six employees within the first few months. Today, they have a total of 280 employees. Larry conducts an annual employment survey during November, a stressful time of year. Similar to the customer surveys, he reads every employee survey, shares the results, and acts on them. In doing so, he builds credibility and company pride.
As Larry says, “The homebuilding industry is not about bricks, sticks, and land. It’s about people.” TNHC searches for passionate people who are motivated to build a better life for customers and puts them in a competitive and positive environment. Larry wishes more companies would adopt a perspective that allows employees more freedom to try new ways of doing things.
The company’s strategic approach includes developing and maintaining relationships with land owners and building upon a history of quality architecture and planning. TNHC focuses on infill sites that are located close to jobs and in places where they will be rewarded for great architecture and planning. Being one of the largest builders in Orange County helps with trades and their relationships with land owners. This often allows TNHC to get the first look at prime properties. TNHC also has a presence in other markets, including Los Angeles, Sacramento, and the Bay Area. Currently, the TNHC has 6,059 lots and a wide diversity of products totaling 84 projects.
Larry thinks that the housing market recovery is overstated and still has a ways to go. The market is tough and margins are not good. During this recession, the land did not get marked down to market. Even though most cycles are seven years, he hopes that this one is gradual and will therefore last longer.
When asked about trends in housing, Larry said that there is a great opportunity to provide smaller housing for baby boomers and empty nesters in quality locations. He thinks that these buyers will pay for high quality homes that offer status, security, and entertainment. However, B locations will not suffice. There is also a lot of opportunity to cater to the Millennials, who are delaying family formation and prefer to live closer to urban areas. Larry believes that when Millennials start forming families, they will be concerned with schools and quality of life. They will become less concerned about a nearby hip bar and more concerned with having a safe park. Larry believes that design from the local level, as opposed to the corporate level, will result in more creative housing in the future. Designing from the local division is a competitive advantage.
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