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This article first appeared in the PB April 2006 issue of Pro Builder.

Best Practices:

Performance Management

Human Resources

Corporate Profile: Veridian Homes of Madison, Wisc. is a semi-custom production builder of single and condominium homes. Family-owned and operated, Veridian was formed in 2003 through the merger of Don Simon Homes and Midland Builders, two of Wisconsin's oldest and most respected home builders. Veridian is Wisconsin's largest home builder.

Mission: Dream. Build. Live. Veridian's mission is to build great homes by never losing sight of what is important: customers, employees, communities and the environment in which we live.

Management Team: David Simon, president of operations; Jeff Rosenberg, president of land acquisition and development; Jeff Simon, president of Marshall Towne Millwork (former executive vice president of operations, Veridian Homes); Gary Zijicek, vice president of construction; John Maasch, vice president of sales, marketing and customer relations; Jeff Hackel, vice president of human resources; Bill Bublitz, vice president of finance; Dan Gorski, vice president of estimating, purchasing and design; and Don Esposito, vice president of land acquisition and development.

Strategic Goals: Veridian has formed strategies around product and market diversification, integrated planning through the entire development cycle, improving sales and marketing effectiveness and managing costs. These strategies are created with an eye on customer loyalty and business profitability. To foster loyalty, Veridian sets strategies for market research, product development and increasing the effectiveness of the sales team. To ensure profitability, Veridian focuses on cost control.

Judge's Comments: “Veridian is a company of fun, hard working, well intentioned people that work with a uniform vision and produce outstanding results that virtually set the bar for others in almost every area. Veridian understands and embraces its mission, vision and values. This must be understood for leaders to set priorities for their leadership activities.“Employees are completely aware of the vision, mission and values of the organization – they live them daily and use them as a guide in their work. Customer and Trade Partner focus is a key part of performance management and this is highlighted in how work systems are designed and how trade partners are involved in providing proactive improvement and frequent weekly 'even-flow' meetings. This includes the support of Trade Partner Certification.”

Veridian Homes
Best Practices: Performance Management

To guide decisions and behavior, Veridian has articulated 27 values divided into six key drivers: customer delight, innovative environments, unparalleled quality, lasting relationships, best practices and quality commitment. Managing performance at Veridian touches upon these areas, organized around 10 major business functions. Performance management includes the following programs; many of which dovetail with the company's vigorous employee training and development efforts:

1) HomeTracker – innovative customer relations software program that tracks all customer communication, including the home orientation, 30-Day visit and 11-month visit, all in an effort to ensure excellent service.

2) Home Towne – Veridian's custom-built lead management system which has been integrated with other applications to facilitate extensive reporting, lot management processes, lot reservation features, e-mail notification, live internal updates, mail merge, search tools, prospect management toolset, sales staff goal assignment and centralized Realtor contact management.

3) Annual NHQA Self-Assessment and ongoing NAHB Research Center certification efforts – In addition to a self assessment around the NHQ award given annually, Veridian is a NAHB certified builder in most of its 10 areas. Veridian's Builder Certification currently covers Quality, Safety and Environmental Management for the following departments: sales, construction,customer relations/warranty, land development, purchasing and estimating. Veridian's design coordinators will be coming onboard shortly and will be followed by drafting.

4) Environmental programs – Veridian's management system has been expanded to include an environmental management program. It also participates in the Green Tier program, a new program for environmentally responsible businesses in Wisconsin, and the first program of its type in the nation. It makes legal commitments to improve environmental performance: for example, it supports the Green Tier Clear Water Initiative, a charter aimed toward reducing harmful sediment loading to Dane County's lakes and streams.

Veridian partners with other county and state agencies to work toward reducing soil erosion and storm water runoff beyond that required by current state and local statutes. The company received the 2006 FET (Federation of Environmental Technologists) Governor's Award for Excellence in Environmental Performance.

Veridian Homes
Best Practices: Human Resources

Employee Feedback and Training Programs

Veridian believes employee development is the heart of a respected company. The Madison, Wisc.-based builder is one of the few in the industry that conducts in-depth weekly one-to-one meetings with associates. The meetings cover a review of accomplishments, frustrations, issues or obstacle resolution, setting of new goals, review of goals and discussions about personal development. Managers then have the opportunity to conduct on-the-spot training during these one-on-one meetings based on the conversation.

To identify what other training needs exist, Veridian supplements these meetings with surveys including employee satisfaction and leadership 360° feedback. It also surveys its trade partners. The company also gleans feedback from its employee and trade partner advisory councils.

Specific performance feedback is also documented in its performance planning and development process and its employee incentive program, GainShare. The builder also provides specific, formal training, including:

  • Dale Carnegie public speaking courses
  • PDR (Practice, Drill, Rehearse) process for sales, construction and customer service
  • First Aid/CPR
  • OSHA Site Safety