S&A Homes Inc.
For 30 years, S&A Homes Inc. has focused on providing its customers with the best value possible in products, materials and service, Vice President of Sales Chris Schoonmaker says. Based in State College, Pa., the privately held homebuilder focuses on the states of Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
President and CEO Bob Poole started the company in 1980 with his then brother-in-law, Don Haubert, when they purchased one of three offices of a local homebuilder in Mifflintown, Pa., that were in the process of closing their doors. “They purchased one office and expanded from there,” Schoonmaker says.
He notes that the company now employs a staff of 150 and sold 400 homes in 2009. In addition, the company is projecting 450 for 2010.
Additionally, “[We have a more than] 90 percent customer satisfaction rating,” he says, adding that the company conducts a third-party independent phone survey of its customers 30 days after move in and again one year later, to ensure that they are satisfied. “We want to make sure the experience they have living in the home is as good as they’ve had purchasing the home.
“We also [provide] 24-hour emergency numbers for any mechanical is – sues as well,” he says. “If we get a survey [where] the people have any concerns that are not being addressed, we will call them immediately and set up a meeting at their home to address [them].”
Schoonmaker joined S&A in 1998. “It’s just a great industry to be in,” he says. “One of the things that excites me [is that] we’re fulfilling people’s dreams.”
He adds that he enjoys the experience of showing people their new homes for the first time. “The excitement [you see] on their face is what [keeps] me in it,” he says. “It’s really worthwhile, in terms of a business to be in.”
Schoonmaker adds that he enjoys working under Poole’s leadership. “[He] always had the vision of what he believes a homebuilder should be,” Schoonmaker says. “Without him, we wouldn’t be here.”
Its management team includes Vice President of Construction Chris Campbell, who “has done a great job in building energy-efficient homes. It is one thing to say what you want to do but doing it is different. That is what sets us apart. We do what we say we will do,” Schoonmaker says.
He adds that the company also enjoys strong relationships with subcontractors and suppliers whom many have partnered with the company for more than 20 years.
Although the Northeast has suffered due to the recession, Schoonmaker says the company is seeing improvements in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Maryland. “[In the] long term, it’s going to be a very strong area to be in,” he says.
For instance, in Pennsylvania, public funds are being put into infrastructure projects, while there is a strong focus on job creation in Washington, D.C. “A lot of that is going to spill into [other] areas in the Northeast,” he predicts. “I think the areas that we are in are going to be good long-term growing areas.”
Setting S&A Apart
S&A focuses on saving energy in its homes, Schoonmaker says. “Every single family home that we build is Energy Starrated,” he says. Before the company starts work on each home, it will evaluate what is needed to earn the rating, which is later certified by a third party.
Some competitors’ homes might be sold at a lower price without the rating, but buyers of S&A’s homes will ultimately enjoy more savings through their monthly expenses, he asserts. “[It provides a] good differentiation between our competitors and ourselves,” he says.
Schoonmaker predicts more growth for S&A as it keeps targeting first-time homebuyers and move-up buyers. “[We want to] continue to expand what we feel is our competitive advantage with energy efficiency in [our] homes,” he says.
He notes that S&A also foresees continued success with its strong team of associates. With them, “[We] believe even in tough times that we can grow. Our best asset is our people,” he says.