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On Going for the Gold: Why Home Builders Enter the NHQA

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National Housing Quality Award

On Going for the Gold: Why Home Builders Enter the NHQA

Who doesn’t want to play for a world championship team? The National Housing Quality Awards program marks its 27th anniversary this year

September 24, 2019
gold trophy for award winners
Photo: Pxhere
This article first appeared in the October 2019 issue of Pro Builder.

This year’s winners of the National Housing Quality Award (NHQA), Thrive Home Builders and Garbett Homes, are the latest in a long line of companies that can pride themselves on achieving award-worthy results in the eight categories the program judges: leadership, strategic planning, process management, customer satisfaction, human resources, construction quality, trade relationships, and business results. 

The NHQA program, marking its 27th anniversary this year, is alone in the housing industry in assessing a company’s achievement of operational effectiveness using verifiable metrics. Modeled after the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the NHQA process is formidable, requiring an in-depth self-examination of a company’s operations and procedures. But, by all accounts, it’s worth the effort. Here is what previous winners have to say.

Why We Do It

David Simon, President, Veridian Homes, Madison, Wis.: At Veridian Homes, we believe that quality is not a destination but a journey. It’s a road we have been traveling since the late 1990s in search of continuous improvement. Our involvement with the NHQA has resulted in a road map for quality improvement initiatives and has given us the ability to benchmark ourselves alongside a multitude of like-minded companies over the last 25 years.

How It Works

Tim O’Brien, President, Tim O’Brien Homes, Pewaukee, Wis.: Applying: Completing the application the first time is tough and takes time. You are looking at your organization in eight categories, of which you may only feel confident in defining what you do in three or four of them. It helps you better understand, in a more holistic way, the areas within your organization where you are lacking a balanced approach. Site visit: It is so important to get great qualitative questions from the examiners. This part of the process highlights all the great things a builder is doing, while challenging the areas in which a builder is lacking. Feedback report: The most valuable part of the NHQA process. It identifies areas where performance and execution are exceptional, as well as areas where opportunities for improvement exist. It helps a builder become more balanced from a performance and execution point of view.

What NHQA Does for Your Company 

Bill Saint, President and CEO, Classica Homes, Charlotte, N.C.: At the end of the day, we don’t want to be the biggest, but we do want to be the best. Who doesn’t want to play for a world championship team versus a run-of-the-mill team? Who doesn’t want to feel they are constantly pushing to get better in their profession each day? The NHQA is all about that. It isn’t perfection, and it isn’t complicated. It looks at each area of a company and helps a builder on the path to excelling and, best of all, provides a measurement stick to help guide you. Saying you want to improve or saying you are good is always difficult without something to compare yourself to. The NHQA provides that. 

What NHQA Did for Our Business

Kevin Estes, CEO, Estes Builders, Sequim, Wash.: The NHQA will resonate with companies that use a “balanced scorecard” to measure their success and contributions. It is clearly not about focusing on the bottom line as an end, but to have the bottom line impacted positively as a result of doing many things right and doing well for stakeholders.

David Simon: The recognition that coincides with winning the award also acts as a unique selling point that puts us a step above our competition. You can find NHQA tags throughout our website and within our sales collateral. Our customers recognize this, and we have seen increased sales because of it. 

The application for the 2021 award will be available in December on probuilder.com/nhq. Check it out, and see how your company measures up.


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Written By
editorial director

Denise Dersin, editorial director of Professional Builder, Custom Builder, PRODUCTS, NKBA Innovation+Inspiration, and co-editor of Multifamily Design+Construction, has been in publishing as an editor and writer for 30 years and has worked in the housing industry for much of that time.

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