We Survived in Homebuilding by Putting People First

Grand Homes CEO Steve Brooks was recently featured in the Harvard Business Review! Mr. Brooks explains how he reinvented his company during the housing crises by putting people first.
Grand Homes CEO Steve brooks
“At the peak of the North Texas housing market in 2003, Grand Homes sold more than a thousand homes. Five years later, the bottom dropped out — job losses and the evaporation of federal tax credits meant fewer people were buying homes — and we sold only a few hundred.

Everyone in the industry felt the impact. 37 of our competitors — successful homebuilders — went out of business in two years, an attrition rate of about 50%. I’ve never seen that kind of fallout.

But we survived, and even wound up stronger, because we were able to do two things simultaneously. We redesigned our product and, more importantly, we redesigned our company.

It was all triggered by a fortuitous meeting I had with Gary Kelly, the CEO of Southwest Airlines. His company’s lesson was simple: High-performance people produce high-performance results. We began with a “People Matter” initiative based on real compassion for our employees. We launched a Culture Committee to help address the specific, emergency needs of our team. We started a monthly profit-sharing program to give everyone here a real stake in the business. We started recognizing personal performance with pep rallies, plaques, and awards.

Our success, I think, is due strictly to our ability to reinvent our corporate culture, borrowing from a model in a separate industry. Like Southwest Airlines, we now try our best to support the people we employ. They, in turn, support the people we serve.
To customers, products and service matter. To the company, profits matter. But to make all of that happen, I now see clearly that people matter most.”

Steve Brooks, chief executive officer of Grand Homes, founded the company in 1987. Grand Homes is a privately held local homebuilder operating exclusively in the Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX housing market.
See Full Article in the Harvard Business Review.

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