When Ryland Homes and Standard Pacific merged last year, Ryland was one of the biggest homebuilders in Minnesota and Standard Pacific had no presence here. The merged company took a completely new name: CalAtlantic Homes. It’s the nation’s fourth largest homebuilder and the one of the largest in the Twin Cities, though its new name isn’t yet well-known. It plans five developments by the end of next year and, just this weekend, opened Stonegate at Interlaken in Waconia. Mike DeVoe, who had been Ryland’s top executive here before the merger, heads the local operation and spoke recently about his career and the industry’s direction. Some excerpts:
Q: How did you get into the construction business?
A: I started my real estate career in 1994 in the commercial sector, as senior vice president at Equis Corporation, assisting large national corporations with their portfolios of leased property. I subsequently switched from commercial to residential real estate, joining Pulte Homes in Chicago focusing on land acquisition. I eventually became division president for Pulte in the Twin Cities and moved to Ryland Homes as division president in early 2008. When Ryland merged with Standard Pacific in 2015 to form CalAtlantic Homes, I remained division president of the Twin Cities division.
Q: What was the industry at that time?
A: At the time, we were experiencing an extended period of growth throughout the residential construction industry. The market was dominated by the large, national companies, but this also created an environment in which many small builders and developers thrived. The biggest change that has happened in the market resulted from the sharp, extended decline that began in 2006. Many of the smaller companies did not survive the downturn. The market has consolidated and is now dominated by fewer, larger companies that have access to the capital required to purchase land and develop the lots necessary to build homes.
Q: What does this change mean for those in the market for a new house?
A: This presents a variety of benefits for consumers. First, large companies such as CalAtlantic have the ability to leverage our size to gain efficiencies in purchasing materials and labor, which translates to better value for consumers. As a large, financially strong organization we are also able to offer homeowners the peace of mind that comes from knowing we will be around to assist them with warranty and other needs that might arise in the future. As a geographically diverse company, we also have the ability to share best practices, thereby providing our homeowners with the latest architectural and design trends from around the country.
Q: Aside from the new name, will consumers notice anything different about the merged company?
A: We have a new name and a new logo, but we are still the same team of people operating in the same manner as before. We currently have 26 neighborhoods spread throughout the Twin Cities, offering everything from townhouses to first-time buyer single-family homes; move-up single-family homes, luxury single-family homes and age-targeted villas and twin homes. With CalAtlantic’s larger national presence and strength, we are able to offer the customer an even wider selection when it comes to home design, geography and options to personalize a home.
Q: Has the merger changed the competitive landscape in the Twin Cities?
A: The merger has resulted in a stronger company than either legacy company could be alone.
Q: What are the top design trends at the moment?
A: The interiors of the homes offer an enhanced sense of flow from room to room and provide an indoor-to-outdoor connectivity that fills the home with natural light. We are also incorporating more outdoor living spaces with features such as fire pits, outdoor kitchens and outdoor sitting areas, which provide an ideal space for entertaining during the warmer months. The space provides the ideal backdrop for family gatherings and large-scale entertaining.
Prospective homeowners will find that more square footage is dedicated to the areas where people spend the majority of their time. Comfortable, casual living spaces replace traditional formal rooms and a gourmet kitchen that flows into the great room serves as the true gathering and entertaining hub of the home. An abundance of storage space is strategically located throughout the home. Other trends include the spalike master baths with oversized showers and private dressing areas. Another trend involves more elaborate basement living spaces, including components such as media rooms, wet bars and family entertaining spaces. Another trend is flexible living spaces. We incorporate flexible living spaces into the home so that a homeowner can personalize the space to meet the unique needs of their family.