Disclosure: Rose Law Group represents Fulton Homes
Rose Law Group Reporter
In this week’s continuing Q&A series we spoke with Dennis Webb, vice president at Fulton Homes, via email.
Dennis- tell us the story about how you decided to go into home building. We assume it was sort of in your blood, but you made a deliberate choice and obviously was the precise right thing for you to do – how did you decide this business was indeed for you?
I started working in High School for a men’s clothing company, Hart, Schaffner, and Marx, put myself through college by selling suits, and progressed up the ladder to Store Manager, Buyer, Merchandise Manager, VP of Stores and Store President. I was President of an eight-store chain here in Phoenix called Hanny’s which is now a bar and Restaurant. After 20 years there, they went out of business, and I joined a clothing store in Los Angeles called Eagleson’s who was owned by Ira Fulton. I was VP of Sales there and Doug Fulton was the President. Ira Fulton sold the company in 1995, and after working with the company that he sold it to for a year, Ira and Doug wanted me to come over to Phoenix and join Fulton Homes. I told them I didn’t know anything about building houses, but I remember Ira saying, but you know about sales, marketing, and people, so we can teach you the building business. That was 22 years ago.
What’s your favorite community Fulton Homes has ever built and what’s your favorite housing product?
Fulton Ranch in Chandler is the favorite, but the favorite product was our first luxury product- Alisanos in Tempe, with all single-story homes with basement options, 1000 trees, and an 8-acre park.
You have a really inspirational story of plunging into the recession and somehow emerging better than you started. Tell us how and why…. what you did right, what you would not do again?
We pretty much did the opposite from most of the other builders in town. Under Norm Nicholls direction, we continued to develop land and new products in Fulton Ranch in Chandler, Freeman Farms in Gilbert and Ironwood Crossing in Queen Creek. Under Doug Fulton’s leadership we continued a strong marketing and advertising presence, and under my oversight, while other builders were closing their Design Centers, we were expanding and developing ours into a profit center and great buyer experience. We retained all of our top Sales Associates as they were a key of continuing to sell homes in a most difficult environment. We also made great improvements in our operations and systems that enabled us to be far more productive with fewer people. Every move that we made had to be a home run, as we simply could not afford just to hit singles. We used all of our retail skills we learned in the clothing business and put them into effect into the retailing new home business. We emerged from the recession a far stronger company than ever before. I can’t think of anything we would have done differently.
We hear you have some kids. Please give us your best child rearing advice?
Actually, we have 2 kids, both ASU graduates, while my daughter is the Executive Director of a Non-profit organization in Los Angeles, my son is an attorney in Los Angeles. My advice is to support them and give them a strong work ethic, but not smother them. They have to make their own mistakes.
If you have free time what are you doing with it?
I do woodworking and play golf.