Politics are local; real estate obviously is local, and the rate of eco- nomic recovery varies by locale.
Executive Movement in the Housing Industry
Activity at Standard Pacific Homes, Kimball Hill Homes, WCI Communities, Park Square Homes, Centex, Jim Walter Homes and Wall Homes is covered this month.
| "Today in Texas, I wouldn't want to be selling houses below $150,000 in average price, because the big public builders are going to kill you with their specs."
– Steve Wall, Wall Homes
Michael Cortney, Standard Pacific Homes' president, will retire on March 15 and also give up his position as a director of the Irvine, Calif.-based public builder, ranked No. 12 in last year's Giant 400, with 11,694 closings for $4.18 billion in 2005. Chairman and CEO Stephen Scarborough will take on the additional role of president.
GMAC Residential Funding of Minneapolis has paid $110 million for a 21 percent stake in Rolling Meadows, Ill.- based private Giant Kimball Hill Homes, according to a Jan. 1 report in Crain's Chicago Business. Neither Kimball Hill nor GMAC representatives spoke about the deal to Crain's, which quoted SEC filings. The report says the Hill family's holdings in the company are reduced from 81 percent to 69 percent. Kimball Hill, with operations in eight states, closed 4,079 homes in fiscal 2006 (ending Sept. 30) for $1.16 billion in revenue, but the firm was hard hit by last year's sudden crash of housing markets in California and Florida.
Carl C. Icahn, the billionaire investor, now has a 14.57 percent stake in WCI Communities. The Bonita Springs, Fla.-based public builder ranked No. 17 in last year's Giant 400. WCI closed 2,909 units for $2.22 billion in 2005. Icahn disclosed his WCI holdings in regulatory filings, which were then reported by The New York Times. He now controls nearly 6.1 million WCI shares, which he described in the filings as "undervalued." Wall Street's reaction to the news: an immediate 7 percent bump in WCI share value, driving it to an 8-month high of $22.47 a share in mid-January.
Jody Proudfit is now director of marketing for the Orlando region of Orlando, Fla.-based Park Square Homes, which last year sold 1,215 homes for $407 million in revenue. Park Square is a major player in Central Florida's resort and retirement home market. Proudfit will report to Jim Bagley, Orlando division president. Bill Minnielli is now onboard as a land division project manager. Minnielli reports to Chuck Cavaretta, Park Square's vice president of land acquisition.
Centex Corp., the Dallas -based No. 4 Giant, (37,876 closings in 2005, for $11.33 billion) has named Cathy R. Smith chief financial officer. Smith, 43, will report to Centex chairman and CEO Tim Eller. Smith joins Centex from Kennametal, a global supplier of tools, engineered components and advanced materials.
Ron McCaslin has been named president of Jim Walter Homes. The Tampa, Fla.-based modular and scattered-lot Giant ranked No. 145 in last year's Giant 400, with $185.9 million in revenue from 2,361 single-family detached closings in 2005. He previously served as president of Wisconsin-based modular home and commercial builder Stratford Homes. Prior to that, McCaslin was president and chief operating officer of the manufacturing division of American Homestar, and also held executive positions with Fleetwood Homes.