Hire, train and retain

WCI manages human resources through strategic acquisitions.

By Felicia Oliver, Senior Editor | June 30, 2006


WCI Communities


Non-Traditional Benefits


Judge's comments:

WCI Communities, Inc.
Recruitment and Retention

In spite of rapid growth through acquisition and the expansion of existing businesses, WCI claims a 78 percent retention rate, quite remarkable when you consider that a large proportion of mergers fail because of a breakdown that often occurs when mixing two disparate cultures.

"We're very pleased about that, and it's not by accident," says Paul Appolonia, senior vice president of human resources.

In fact, WCI reports that its retention rate has drastically improved over the past four years.

"Our business development team and Jerry Starkey, our CEO, do an outstanding job in identifying potential acquisitions that fit our particular business niche," Appolonia says. "There is a lot of due diligence that goes into the process. We've passed on some acquisitions where we don't think it's the right fit."

In 2004, WCI made its first acquisition outside Florida when it purchased Spectrum Communities, an established builder serving the active-adult market and high-end luxury home market. In 2005, WCI acquired Renaissance Housing Corp., a wholly owned subsidiary serving the affluent homebuilding market.

Turnover has been minimal in companies WCI acquired.

"Sometimes people who work for a small company of less than 200 that's acquired by a company of more than 4,000 feel like they're going to get lost," says Appolonia. "But we've allowed them to maintain their sense of where they came from. Then they gradually learn what is expected of them from WCI."

Appolonia also credits the high retention rate to effective recruiting. WCI conducts multiple behavioral interviews for both cultural and technical fit. Each candidate must complete multiple assessments that provide insight on the candidates' decision-making, communication and leadership skills.

WCI also provides employee training through the WCI Learning Institute, a university-style development program that addresses every level of employee in every business unit. The WCI-LI's goal is to unify multiple development programs that stretch across diverse disciplines to develop and prepare employees for leadership roles within WCI.

"At times we were a very good recruiting ground for other companies," says Appolonia. "We have such an emphasis on training and development that larger companies were coming in and hiring away people. We determined that we were going to push even harder for recruiting and development, and retention.

"The rallying cry for our HR department is very simple. We're going to hire, train and retain. Hire, train and retain in all cases."


WCI Communities

Jerry Starkey, President/CEO

Bonita Springs, Fla.


Employees: 3,905

2005 revenues: $2.6 billion

2005 units closed: 2,909

WCI Communities is a publicly traded company that serves three key markets: primary move-up, second home/luxury and active adult buyers in Florida, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland and Virginia. The company creates amenity-rich, lifestyle-oriented master planned communities as well as mid- and high-rise residential towers.

Non-Traditional Benefits

The Girlz of Summer is an eight-week golf program that gives female employees at WCI Communities an opportunity to learn golf and network. The program averages about 30 participants per lesson and includes an awards ceremony and a "Play with the Golf Professionals Tournament" at the end of the program.

"We have beautiful golf accommodations for members and the communities," says Paul Appolonia, senior vice president of human resources, "and we allow our employees to take advantage of that at any level. You can play golf in any one of our courses for the cost of a golf cart."

Judge's comments:

"[I'm impressed with] the success WCI has had with retention considering the high number of acquisitions. They must have a good post-merger integration construct that they are working with there."

— Erik Froelich

View the Professional Builder Great Workplaces 2006 Profiles:

  • WCI Communities
  • Pulte Homes
  • Pardee Homes



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