Q&A with Shea Homes Arizona President Don Murphy

Disclosure: Rose Law Group represents Shea Homes

By Callan Smith | Rose Law Group Reporter

For our continuing Q&A series, we had the opportunity to interview Don Murphy, president of Shea Homes Arizona, by email.

Shea appears to be everywhere lately—how many and what communities are you building in Arizona right now?

Don Murphy

Yes, it’s an exciting time for us. With 12-16 communities at any given time valley wide, we are building homes and condos to meet the needs of all types of homeowners.

We will open three new, all single-story, communities in Queen Creek on April 14. Aperture, Emblem and Origin at Gateway Quarter, located at the Southeast corner of Ellsworth and Germann.  Floor plans range from under 2,000 square feet to over 3,000 square feet.

We are also building stunning homes at Evolve, Reserves, and Latitude at Cantilena in Peoria. In Gilbert, we are building spacious single-story homes at The Reserves and at our three beautiful communities at Recker Pointe (Ambition, Compass, and Inspire). Later this year, we will begin construction of six model homes at our new Aloravita community, located at 67th Avenue and Jomax Road in Peoria, with a grand opening slated for early 2019.

And last but certainly not least, we are putting the finishing touches on our models at our first Shea Signature™ luxury community, Azure, in Paradise Valley. We anticipate our grand opening to take place in May.

Shea is building one of the most prominent communities in the state at The Ritz in Paradise Valley at Scottsdale Road and Indian Bend Road—what features are appealing to the high-end buyer?

Shea teamed up with Erik Peterson from the award-winning team at PHX Architecture to collaborate and design the seven single-story residences of Azure. Buyers can choose from two to five-bedroom configurations ranging from 2,986 up to 6,800 square feet with main level, lower level, and optional upper-level living situated off the front of the homes to maintain rear yard privacy throughout the community. Priced from the high $1 million, these transitional homes feature clean lines, indoor/outdoor living, and flat roof elements that echo the design of the future Ritz-Carlton® resort. Modern design is balanced with traditional elements like clean, cut stone and light, crisp colors.

Distinctive design features include European frameless cabinets, residential elevators for one to five passengers, wide plank wood and Ann Sacks tile floors, expandable home automation & security system, LED lighting throughout, iconic stair towers with open riser stairs, and open-flame linear gas fireplace in main living areas. Kitchens include Gaggenau® appliance packages, Rohl® fixtures and engineered quartz countertops. Architectural features include extensive Fleetwood 10’ tall rolling walls of glass, central courtyards, extensive natural stone and geo-lam siding, smooth finish stucco, front yard landscaping maintained by the HOA, and a 4’ x 10’ glass or solid core front door.

I invite interested buyers to learn more about this truly unique community at azurepvliving.com.

I hear you are really into architecture—what’s your personal preferred style and do you get involved with the design of the Shea homes?

I tend to gravitate towards transitional and modern. However, Architecture should complement the physical environment and the surrounding area. I think some of the best design outcomes happen when there are constraints. I like the juxtaposition of traditional forms with clean lines and more modern materials and feel this concept works well in Arizona. I like to have iconic elements in homes when possible such as architectural staircases and indoor/outdoor spaces. You will see all of these philosophies on display at Azure.

What is the culture of Shea in Arizona?

When I re-joined Shea Homes in 2015, the company culture was a big draw. Shea is a family-owned company, and our team truly does feel like family. It’s not uncommon for employees to have been with the company for 10, 15, 20 years or more. I think one of the reasons people thrive here at Shea is due to our philosophy of employee empowerment. Employees at every level of the company have great freedom to make decisions and take actions that benefit the customer. This leads to both happy homeowners and happy employees. In addition, our culture is heavily focused on community involvement. Through our partnerships with a number of Valley nonprofits, we come together as a team regularly to make our community a better place to live, work, and play.

We are collaborative and results-oriented. We assemble the ‘right’ team of consultants, TradePartners®, and internal team members for any given project or community. Those teams are very different when comparing Azure in Paradise Valley to our offerings at Gateway Quarter in Queen Creek. We recruit based on our culture and value honesty & integrity, competitive spirit, empathy and advocacy for our customers, in addition to aptitude and skill.

How would you describe your leadership style?

Collaborative and results oriented. Shea has an incredibly talented team so I don’t have to micro-manage anyone. I have the luxury of great expertise to rely on internally; we drive each other pretty hard but in a positive environment. I try to ensure everyone has clear goals and objectives and that our reward systems and promotions support our culture and the overarching goals of Shea and our customers.

What sets Shea apart from other home builders for the homebuyer/customer?

We are dedicated to providing the ultimate experience to our customers. It starts with the moment our homebuyers walk through the door of our models. We are there to help them find the ideal home that fits their lifestyle and needs. Our high level of service continues every step of the way, from financing, to working with designers, whether in the Shea Design Studio or with IMI, to choosing all the special touches that make a house a home. Ultimately, our homeowners tell us that the experience of living in a Shea home is the true payoff, because their homes are designed for the way modern families live today.

You seem to be very optimistic in general but what in this current market causes you concern?

The largest concerns are controlling costs in a labor constrained environment. We want to offer great value to our customers by building outstanding homes at attainable prices. The Arizona market still represents great affordability and a path to home ownership and we need to ensure we maintain this advantage and reputation as compared to some of our neighboring states.

You are rumored to have good taste- What’s your favorite Valley restaurant?

I tend to stick close to home and frequent places that are consistently good, fun, and not outrageously expensive. My wife has Celiac disease so we eat gluten-free and appreciate restaurants with GF choices. We enjoy North, Tarbell’s Tavern, Flower Child, La Grande Orange pizza, and Sumo-Maya amongst others. And when we splurge, Elements at Sanctuary.

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