When we first put our minds to selecting our 2020 Builder of the Year, we made a concerted effort to focus on business success with a dash of COVID-19 agility; after all, getting through a year like this one not only unscathed but thriving certainly merits recognition.
I’ve only known about True Homes since 2018, when the North Carolina builder applied for and eventually earned Gold in its first swing at our annual National Housing Quality Awards for operational excellence. For perspective, very few companies win Gold on their first try, and some never do no matter how many times they apply. True did … and then posed for a cover (below, left) that remains near the top of my all-time favorites.
To be sure, True Homes has excellent business metrics: 2,000 closings this year (400 above forecast), a 12% bump in annual revenue that’s approaching $500 million, and a 12th straight year of gross profits over 20%, among other impressive financial results.
But what became clear early on, and often does with our Builder of the Year honorees, is that numbers are the result of something else, something deeper … and too often something we assume other builders dismiss as a key component of success: culture. As cynics ourselves, we often bristle at terms like “a team of teams,” “purpose-driven,” and having a “manifesto” that talks about human kindness and having fun more so than sales or profits or some other objective metric.
But no more. I (and we) will no longer apologize for home builders that commit to a so-called feel-good mission and achieve enviable success and greater sustainability as a direct result. In fact, we’ll celebrate it every chance we get and encourage others—everyone—to follow their lead, including ourselves.
It’s a hard pivot, no doubt; habits are habits for a reason, and hard to break. But if you want your business to not just show financial success but truly mean something to your community, your people, and your partners, creating a sincere and pervasive culture of true purpose is worth it. Revenue and profitability are not mutually exclusive to that culture; in fact, I’d argue they come easier.
Just read what True Homes has done and how the cultures cultivated at The New Home Company (last year’s Builder of the Year), Trumark Companies (2018), and Thrive Home Builders (2017) seek out and achieve that lofty and most valuable goal. Because isn’t that why we build homes in the first place?