While other builders have succumbed to the instability of the economy, Highland Homes has flourished, says Kathie McDaniel, sales and marketing director for the Lakeland-based company.
"We credit our success to our leadership and the core values of our company," says McDaniel. "Bob and Joel Adams - the company's leaders - have over 50 years combined experience, so they have a good understanding of industry cycles and have experienced several cycles during their careers that included recessionary periods."
She credits the two with knowing what it takes to succeed: "Offering the best product, in the best locations, with competitive pricing, a good promotion to let buyers know what you offer and then having the best trained staff to meet the buyers who visit the communities.''
McDaniel says when the economy soured, there was no panic. Highland Homes just tightened belts and continued with its successful strategy.
"And it has paid off," she says. "We faced the same downturn in the economy as the rest of the nation in September, but we remained focused and saw visitor traffic start to increase again in October. It continues to increase to this day."
Usually averaging 35 sales per month, since October sales have soared, McDaniel says, citing 49 sales in November, 43 in December and 69 in January.
McDaniel says a team spirit among employees also helps the company thrive.
"There is a mutual admiration and respect within the company that starts with its owners - Bob and Joel Adams - and runs through the ranks of all employees. Every employee has a role in making it through this economy as a leader in the industry. The owners set the example and the employees follow their lead," she says. "It is a team of players with the best coaches in the industry.''
That strategy has proven successful with the recent opening of Highland Homes' new models at Winchester Estates - a community in North Lakeland with homes priced from the $130,000s.
"Every employee is always looking for a way to keep our costs at a minimum without sacrificing sales or customer service,'' she says.
When Highland committed to opening two models the budget was a concern.
The company typically used outside firms to merchandise their models, she explains, but decided to rely on staff to decorate the new models because of economic conditions.
The company's design studio employees - Stacey Antonakos-Perez and Anne Fassett - worked with McDaniel to create and design the models.
"With their experience in using outside firms, they put together some fresh ideas and created a plan for the new model center," McDaniel says. "By the end of the project, they were able to furnish the models at half the cost paid to previous design firms.
"The final product is outstanding," McDaniel says. "Stacey and Anne worked together to create the colors and design features. Stacey shopped at the local retail stores finding bargains and sales to get the most value, and Anne created, designed and installed all of the window coverings.
"Stacey enlisted the help of two other talented employees. Harley Constant, who designed and built some of the trim work and furniture in the homes," McDaniel says. "And Paulette Dalton provided art work for both models. The work is unique to the model homes, and is very professional."
"Not only did we save money, but the designs look as professional as our other furnished models,'' she says.
Highland Homes builds at communities in southern Hillsborough, Pasco and Polk counties. For information on Highland or models at Winchester Estates, call (863) 859-1429 or visit www.highlandhomes.org.
"With the teamwork at Highland Homes, you can be sure [employees] will find other ways to save money for the company. With the loyalty and respect the company has for each other, they'll continue to build dreams for their faithful customers," McDaniel says.