Last month, I attended NAHB’s midyear meeting in Miami and had the pleasure of sitting in on a presentation by Daniel Swift, president and CEO of Des Moines-based architecture group BSB Design.
Do You Seek Out Improvements?
When Del Webb brought its desert homes to the Midwest four years ago to open 6,000-unit Sun City Huntley, it was superintendents such as Tim King who pushed for additional plan adaptations to make them perform better in the Midwestern climate.
Name: Tim King
Company: Pulte/Del Webb, Huntley, Ill.
Years as superintendent: 18
Customer satisfaction measurement survey: 90%
Units carried per quarter: 125 (with 5 assistants)
Days ahead/behind schedule: 5 ahead
Homes delivered last year: 505
Value of homes delivered: $128 million (with 7 assistants)
Hard-cost variance: within 1%
Punchlist items on first inspection: fewer than 5
Average days to correct punchlist items: 4 or less
When Del Webb brought its desert homes to the Midwest four years ago to open 6,000-unit Sun City Huntley, it was superintendents such as Tim King who pushed for additional plan adaptations to make them perform better in the Midwestern climate. Of several freeze-prevention modifications offered by King and others, the most obvious need came from plans that had washers and dryers in the garage, where water supply lines could easily freeze, says King.
The native Midwesterner made seeking and articulating ways for the com-pany to improve its product and how it conducts business a priority when he joined Del Webb after years of superintendent service with D.R. Horton's Chicago affiliate, Cambridge Homes. With the help of eight assistant supes, King is in the field every day supervising construction. Ideas for improvement are written down and funneled to upper management systematically.
Same job, just bigger: As lead super for the huge Huntley site, King is responsible for an array of single-family detached and attached products, each with various elevations and floor plans. One assistant supe covers the new attached product line brought in by Pulte, while the other assistants concentrate on various phases of construction. One assistant handles concrete. Three handle rough-in. Four take over the trim-out phase. Teamwork is not an option.
Strong lines of communication: King rolls on site at 6:30 a.m. By the time trades arrive, he's out of his truck and talking to the ones who might be needed elsewhere on site for emergency fixes. At a brief daily production meeting that includes the "phase" assistants, monthly closes are reviewed vis-à-vis the schedule. King then goes to the key foremen and their principals to relay key points about the schedule and pacing.
A focus on first impressions: "When a customer comes for the first time to walk through their new home at customer orientation, the house needs to be completed, clean and finished for that first impression," King says. "And I always push everyone on this."
He knows that a big part of customer satisfaction is formed at that moment. He also knows that anything less than perfection detracts from the purpose of the visit -- to concentrate on the lifestyle the customers have purchased and to "learn their house systems, the water-main shut-off, how the appliances work, when you change the filters."
What the trades say: "More than anything it is his organization, a good game plan and foresight. He is very calculated, organized and meticulous. He demands that from the guys who are under him. He never flies off the handle. That's wasted energy. He just resolves the problems." -- Wayne Manning, vice president, Manning Concrete Inc., Huntley, Ill.
Tim on the importance of experience
Tim on learning the pace of subcontractors
Tim on setting a daily schedule
Tim on an information-sharing approach to managing
Tim on do's and don'ts for new superintendents