Simonini Says Ethics Award Reinforces Team Pride

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Add the Charlotte Ethics in Business Award, a local affiliate of the American Business Ethics Award program, to the long list of achievements by Charlotte, N.C., luxury kingpin Simonini Builders.

November 01, 2003
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Add the Charlotte Ethics in Business Award, a local affiliate of the American Business Ethics Award program, to the long list of achievements by Charlotte, N.C., luxury kingpin Simonini Builders. Simonini also was honored this year with an NRS Award in Homeowner Satisfaction (September PB) and by designation among the Reed Residential Group's 101 Best Companies to Work For in the Residential Construction Industry (October PB).

Partners Alan Simonini and Ray Killian Jr. say the ethics award's greatest value is internal, among the company's employees, vendors and trade contractors. Simonini has 55 employees and will close 50 sales in Charlotte this year along with 20 in Charleston, S.C., for a total of $50 million in 2003 revenue.

"All builders say they are ethical," Killian says. "You see it in their ads and ‘builder's story' displays, which all try to show that the company is trustworthy. But it's what other people say about you that really matters - especially vendors, trades, developers, Realtors, etc. This award gets them talking about our belief in the Golden Rule as good business."

"It's another third-party endorsement," Simonini adds, "that reinforces all the training and empowerment we give employees to do the right thing by every person we come in contact with. We never let financial factors cloud the moral issue. Doing the right thing is always the best business decision. Things happen when you build houses, we all know that. But we always want our people to step up and be fair to everyone, ourselves included."

The company's vision, printed on cards carried by every employee, calls for Simonini to be "Charlotte's most respected and sought-after custom home builder" and the "employer of choice." Financial planner Ivan Hinrichs says he nominated Simonini for the ethics award because the firm achieved those goals. "I've known Ray Killian for many years," Hinrichs says. "I've seen his character in a lot of places where others would not have the chance, seen him do the right thing when no one else would ever see it. I know the kind of person he is and the kind of company he has. I also know a lot of people living in houses Ray and Alan built. I was very confident that this is exactly the kind of company our ethics award judges would want to honor."

Alan Simonini believes the housing industry would benefit greatly if a builder won a local ethics award in every market across America. "We have to admit that our industry has some unethical people in it, but to see us all that way is just wrong," he says. "Like in any industry, the best stand above the rest. That's what this award is about. It shows the best in a true light."

How does the firm's reputation affect the bottom line? Simonini won't say. But data collected for the NRS Award competition show that 100% of surveyed 2002 buyers would recommend the company to a friend, and 94% actually had made at least one referral. Some 34% of buyers reported making 10 or more referrals. NRS data show an overall rate of 6.06 referrals per closing. Not every referral produces another sale, but word-of-mouth referrals produce the best prospects a builder gets.

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