Builder editorial director John McManus takes a deep dive into how CalAtlantic came to be and how the company will change the way the home building industry works.
Three times a year, the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies Policy Advisory Board (PAB) meets, typically, once in Washington, D.C.; once in Cambridge, Mass.; and once in a third, floating location. The PAB is a who’s who of 50 or so housing business leaders, developers, builders, manufacturers, distributors, and the like. It’s dynamic. Extremely so.
PAB proceedings as a rule include a roundtable session that calls on each participant to offer up—briefly—a bullet point or two of high-level, material insight, straight from the trenches. Apart from brevity, the rule is that what you divulge cannot violate federal antitrust, securities, or other laws. You’re among competitors responsible for about one out of three for-sale or for-rent new homes in America, after all, and any whiff of complicity in the meeting would be a no-no.
What’s not against the rules is to listen to what the other speakers say. Chances are, you like what a few of the people in the session impart, while what others say when they take their turn—or the way they say it—can be a turn-off. The phrasing that one strategic executive may use to describe what he or she sees going on in the market may strike a chord of some sort. Next thing you know, two people may choose seats next to one another during the following meeting, based on the mysteries of what causes people to make such decisions.
What exactly it was that drew two chief executives—Larry Nicholson, who stepped up as Ryland CEO in May 2009, in the throes of the housing depression, and Scott Stowell, whose ascent to CEO of Standard Pacific took place Jan. 1, 2012—into one another’s immediate sphere at the Harvard PAB and other high-level industry meetings was hardly a mystery. They were, amid such company, the relative “new guys” among veterans at the helm; people whose average tenure was a decade or more. Also, observers might say that in such company they were two “normal guys” among mostly towering egos. 
“We started sitting together at industry meetings, and the relationship grew over time as we discovered that we had quite a bit in common, in our careers and in our lives,” says Stowell... Read the rest of the Article 

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