Region/NORTHEAST Q: What defines your corporate culture?
A: We are very much continuing the legacy of Leon Weiner. In affordable housing, he was one of the most recognized individuals in many a decade. Leon was a past president of NAHB, and now I am on some of the executive boards, not because I have a particular talent but because I believe if everyone took the attitude of ‘why do it,' then we would all suffer. The industry has been good to me and good to our company. I feel that there is an obligation to give back and try to improve the circumstances under which we all operate. I find it gratifying to grab an oar and row the boat forward.
Q: What are some of the challenges that you face in your market?
A: Occasionally, I will run into communities in the South that can go through the permitting process in three to six months. In our backyard, even if we are conforming to the zoning codes and asking no exceptions, a plan review will typically take 24 to 30 months to get approved.
Q: How does the North-east's economy affect your business?
A: Everything is soft right now, but overall demographics remain very strong; everything bodes very well in the long term for multifamily housing. In our region, Delaware has traditionally had a very strong economy and continues to diversify. Of course, Maryland and down to D.C. remains one of the strongest markets in the country. In Delaware, people are beginning to realize that many of these land-use codes that are restrictive of multifamily development actually perpetuated sprawl instead of managing growth. I think there is a realization that, by permitting increased density, [cities] can achieve managed growth, whether it is townhouses, attached condos, or rentals.
Q: What are your company's growth plans?
A: We do not plan on increasing our footprint. We are a regional player, if you will, and small by many standards. We are extremely detail-oriented, and that can inhibit substantial growth, but we are proud that in 56 years, no one here has missed a paycheck, and we continue to distribute bonuses each and every year. Certainly we are looking for additional opportunities, particularly in the acquisition, preservation, or conversion of existing affordable housing. Because of the prices of labor, materials, and dirt, many affordable construction deals do not pencil out.