Orleans Homes CEO says homebuilders must reinvent themselves, adapt to 'new normal' to survive until strong market levels return

BENSALEM, Pennsylvania , November 3, 2011 (press release) – Orleans Homes CEO George E. Casey, Jr., told attendees at last week’s Urban Land Institute Annual Fall Meeting in Los Angeles that the housing downturn has given homebuilders an opportunity to reinvent themselves.

Chairing a panel entitled “Not Standing Still: What Builders are Actually Changing to Meet the New Reality,” Casey said builders need to accept the current level of new, for-sale home activity as the “new normal” for a while.

“Builders won’t make money doing things the way they used to,” he said. “At least there’s a business, even at current levels of activity. Homebuilders must figure out how to make money in this new environment. It is not impossible to do, but it will take a level of innovation and out-of-the-box thinking that is normally more associated with start-up tech companies than with homebuilders of the past. Those who do figure it out will be best positioned to prosper when a more robust market does return – and make no mistake, it will return.”

Casey has focused Orleans on four pillars that he says are crucial to being a successful builder in the 21st century:

  • Market niche focused. “Smart builders are using research, rather than guessing, to determine what their buyers. With sound research, we can focus on the individual market niches for each neighborhood that make the most sense. One size does not fit all in this world.”
  • Operational excellence. “We must be at the top of our game at all times. The quality and speed with which we build are critical to our success. Our sales staff has to know how to relate to customers in solving their home and neighborhood needs. If we create happy customers by making their experience with Orleans simple and personal, it will be the right business model for both of us.”
  • Organizationally efficient. “In order to be more productive, we must be a flatter organization that uses technology more, both to communicate internally as well as with our core customers.”
  • Excellent stewards of capital. “The days of cheap debt capital are gone. We have to be globally competitive in the returns on equity we generate for investors by doing our business in new ways that create high value for customers. We must build discipline into everything we do. If we do that, we create the highest probability of continuing as a business and showing how a new, 93-year-old company can grow, creating exciting jobs for our associates and creative and innovative homes and neighborhoods for our customers.”
Casey joined Orleans in February, 2011 after the company successfully reorganized. The company operates 66 communities in 10 markets, primarily in the eastern United States.

About Orleans Homebuilders, Inc.
Founded in 1918, Orleans Homes is one of the oldest, continually operated homebuilders in the United States. It is committed to building thoughtfully designed homes and creating unique neighborhoods that cater to the way people live today.

The company builds single-family homes, townhouses, and condominiums that range in price from the upper $170,000’s - $1.5 million. It is currently operating in 66 neighborhoods in ten distinct markets:
Southeastern Pennsylvania
Central and Southern New Jersey
Orange County, NY
Charlotte, Raleigh and Greensboro, NC
Richmond and Tidewater, VA
Chicago, IL

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