For more than 40 years, Professional Builder has published the Annual List of Housing's Giants. It's our signature research piece and so significant we own the trademark. In recent years, the list has become more familiarly known as the Giant 400, because it lists the 400 largest home builders in the United States.
This year 400 has become 350.
Our researchers made Herculean efforts to find builders large enough to call "giants." In the end, we stopped at 350 because the smallest of these behemoths closed a mere 50 homes last year. To go below that number, we reasoned, would be to give false pride to the name giants.
None of this is surprising. Getting to 350 wasn't easy. Not only did we have to find companies who had never approached our list before, we had to talk everyone into completing our survey. We met some resistance.
The most amazing thing to me was how many people suggested that we just shouldn't bother with the research this year. Their arguments fell into two camps. On one side were the cynics who believed identifying the largest businesses in this era of foreclosure, bankruptcy and failure was a fool's errand. In the other camp were those who believed that what we were doing was not good for the industry. As a trade magazine, they argue, we should be extolling only the good about housing. The industry gets enough bad press from the consumer side of media without its own trade publications bringing up the warts and ugly undercarriage of an industry that's down, they argued.
I empathize and somewhat agree with that assessment. However, we can never be just shills for the industry. The result would be the opposite of what we intend. If we only reported good news, our audience — home builders — would only hear what they wanted to hear, and they would be at a disadvantage in the marketplace. That undermines our mission to help our readers succeed.
Instead, we worked long hours on the phone to provide an accurate portrait of what is happening with the larger home builders in 2008. That report, the "Annual Report of Housing's Giants," delivers that information in a concise manner that we feel is important to our readers.
We've expanded coverage on the Professional Builder channel of HousingZone.com. There you can find a printable poster of the largest home builders, data on past surveys and more information about the companies in this year's report, including factory-built providers and a list of Giant 400 companies that haven't made it through the downturn. Go to www.probuilder.com/giant400.