Pulte's 'Top Guns' Create a Legacy of Leadership Excellence

Pulte builds their business through building their human resources.

By By Felicia Oliver, Senior Editor | June 30, 2006



Pulte Homes


Ranked No. 1 on Professional Builder's Giant 400 list and honored as the first public national builder to win the NHQ Award in 2004 — winning gold — Pulte certainly has the experience and resources to be a phenomenal place to work. And it doesn't waste them.


Pulte stands out for its commitment to training and leadership development. Twice a year the company goes through a human resource planning process. Each division evaluates its growth plans over the next three years, determines its organizational needs and identifies current employees with the potential to fill projected openings.

"We did a human resource inventory of who we had out there, what they were doing and what we could do to move the talent pipeline forward," says Kari Lawry, national director of diversity and college recruiting. "It evolved from there to getting some common structure, common leadership characteristics, and taking a look at how we are designed organizationally.

"If you're a market that builds 500 homes, ideally you should look like this organizational chart. Now, let's take a look at you, Kansas City, and see what's going on."

Another innovative idea is Pulte's "Top Gun" program. It was designed to train high-potential, front-line employees to become successful mentors to new hires. Mentoring has been an effective way to combat high turnover and losing good people who often faltered and left because they felt they had little support.

The Top Gun designation is considered one of the highest honors among employees. Once recommended and selected, Top Guns participate in a weeklong training session. They then return to their divisions to mentor, lead training sessions and become more involved in decision making as members of Top Gun Councils.

"The single fundamental difference between Pulte and anyone else that I've worked for," says Veronica Perez, vice president of sales and marketing for Pulte's Raleigh division, "is that I never doubt for a moment that they are concerned, careful and cognizant about my personal development. It builds such incredible loyalty."

Perez is a Top Gun who has also had an opportunity to be a trainer for the program.

She calls the Top Gun program key to Pulte's culture of mentorship and support.

"I tell my team all the time, 'I'm here for you," she says. "Others may say, "I don't want to promote X, because then I don't have a backfield.' I've promoted my backfield three times."

"When my performance is reviewed, I know that it's looked upon positively," she adds. "Give them to 'V' [her nickname]. She's going to train them. She's going to develop them. She's got a carrel full of talent, and she's not afraid to share them.' I always tell them, 'Take them. I'll build more.'"


Pulte Homes

Richard J. Dugas Jr., President/CEO

Bloomfield Hills, Mich.


Employees: Approximately 13,000

2005 revenues: $14.3 million

2005 units closed: 45,630

Pulte Homes is a Fortune 150 company with operations in 53 markets and 27 states. During its 56-year history, the company has constructed more than 450,000 homes. Under its Del Webb brand, Pulte is the nation's largest builder of active-adult communities.

An Auspicious Start

Even before Pulte new-hires start, the company wants them to feel special. One example: a surprise. The Atlanta division conveyed offer letters to their newest group of college recruits, who thought they were coming in for another interview and lunch. When they arrived at a very nice restaurant, tuxedo clad waiters carried in a tray with offer letters tucked into fine stemware delivered to each candidate.

Judge's comments:

"In addition to [traditional areas like] recruitment, training and compensation, Pulte's application focused on what might be called the counterpoint to these three: consensus, unity and intimacy."

— Chuck Graham



View the Professional Builder Great Workplaces 2006 Profiles:

  • WCI Communities
  • Pulte Homes
  • Pardee Homes



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