Ryland Group homebuilders ups COO to extended Prez role
National homebuilder The Ryland Group Inc. announced the promotion of current Chief Operating Officer Larry Nicholson to the expanded role of president and COO, effective immediately, according to the company
Nicholson has served as Ryland’s COO since June 2007. He already manages the Calabasas, Calif.-based company’s homebuilding regions and divisions, including land acquisitions, marketing, purchasing and safety operations.
In his new role, he will work hand-in-hand with Chairman and Chief Executive Officer R. Chad Dreier to develop a long-term strategy, capital allocations and other leadership and organizational decisions.
The Ryland Group, one of the nation’s largest homebuilders and a leading mortgage-finance company, has built more than 275,000 homes and financed more than 235,000 mortgages since its inception in 1967. The company currently operates in 17 states and 20 homebuilding divisions across the country.
Spokesperson Marya Barlow told WinmoEdge that in addition to the print and outdoor campaigns that The Ryland Group
currently implements to advertise its homebuilding, it also utilizes a tremendous amount of Web and online marketing.
“Especially given the current downturn, Web advertising and search engine optimization and all those things are a huge focus for any homebuilder and very much so at Ryland,” she said. “We do a lot of e-blasts, microsites, SEO and everything else we can to make sure we’re at the forefront of the Web, because that’s where a lot of consumers are looking for new homes.”
Barlow said that while Nicholson will be involved in the marketing strategy, she said that the company retains a senior vice president of marketing and communications, Eric Elder, who is the best marketing contact.
Ryland formulates its strategy based on what has received the best consumer response in the past, and Barlow said that the company is constantly analyzing its entire media mix to see what is giving it the most “bang for (its) buck” and will then invest more in certain areas that prove to be successful.
“A pretty universal challenge for all homebuilders, right now with the state of the economy and housing downturn, is that people are hesitant to purchase a home, and we’re all up against that challenge,” she said. “We’re really trying to come up with a way to cut through that fear and anxiety and try to market successfully to those people. Another challenge is doing more with less. People have fewer financial resources to work with, and a smaller and slimmer marketing budget.”
Barlow said that Ryland Group works with several agencies – an interactive marketing firm, and two separate regional ad agencies that handle various geographic regions – but declined to name them specifically. She said that now may not be the best time for interested agencies to drum up business. Barlow said a better time to discuss opportunity would be after the housing market rebounds.
According to The List database, Atlanta-based Denmark – The Agency has handled some of Ryland Group’s advertising and public relations initiatives, and Los Angeles-based Castells & Asociados have handled its multicultural and Hispanic efforts since 2003.
According to Nielsen Monitor-Plus, the company spent about $14.7 million on measured media in 2007. About $7.4 million was spent on local newspaper ads, $4.5 million was spent on outdoor ads and $1.2 million was spent on spot radio ads.
Interested agencies should speak directly with Elder to discuss opportunities with The Ryland Group, but like Barlow said, right now may not be the best time to reach out, seeing as the housing market is in an economic downturn and the homebuilders are operating on a very small budget. Firms might want to put Ryland Group on a long-term prospect list.
Ryland Group, Inc.
24025 Park Sorrento
Calabasas, CA 91302
President, Chief Operating Officer
Senior Vice President, Marketing & Communications
Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer