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    Executive Inc.: Lennar’s Alan Jones on why listening pays off

    Alan Jones is the reason Miami, Florida-based Lennar Corp. offers a multigenerational living product that is sweeping the nation.

    The 15-year Phoenix division president of one of the nation’s largest homebuilders doesn’t see it that way. The way he tells it, he just listened to somebody who offered a good idea and implemented the concept.

    When homebuilders were trying to survive the Great Recession in 2010, Jones was approached by an architect from Las Vegas, Howard Perlman, who presented a concept of multigenerational living, where a smaller suite would be connected to the main house by an interior door, but with both areas having their own front-door access.

    Knowing a good idea when he heard it, Jones introduced the Next Gen Home concept to the town of Gilbert, which approved the idea in September 2011.

    Since then, more than 2,100 Next Gen Homes have been sold in metro Phoenix. What’s more, Lennar has sold more than 16,000 of these NextGen homes nationwide since 2012.

    You don’t take credit for the Next Gen success? I owe him (Howard Perlman) all the credit in the world for asking us to consider it. It’s been a real significant thing for us. It’s really put us in a position where we’ve taken an approach to try and be innovative based on market demand.

    What have Next Gen sales been like during the coronavirus pandemic? It’s become 20 to 25% of our sales. This year, we’re going to have about 2,500 home closings, so you take 20% and you get 500 Next Gen home sales. It used to be cool when you had a division that had 500 closings. Next Gen could be a division itself.

    How did you come up with an RV Next Gen product? People would come in and say to the new home consultants: “Boy, I love this Next Gen home. Can we put an RV garage on a Next Gen home?” The sales associate would say to me, “Alan, people are saying this to me.” I said, “Keep track of how often that happens.” They said, “All the time.” When we looked at it, we figured the homes were going to be too wide. We challenged ourselves to look at it and figure out how to make it work.

    How did you make it work? It took awhile. But the home is 55 wide and it has an RV garage and it has a nice main house with the Next Gen suite. The response has been fantastic. We’re building it in our active adult community. Think about it. A person can move into an active adult community and they can have an RV garage and they can have the ability to have somebody live with them. They get it all.

    As you buy more land in the Valley, are you looking for sites specifically for the Next Gen products? Yes. We’ve had enough success with this product that we’re now looking for communities specifically where we can build it and accommodate this product.

    What impact has the Next Gen product had on you? It’s rewarding. When some of the new home consultants weren’t in a situation where their parents were getting older, they didn’t really relate. If your parents are getting a bit older, you understand it better. One gentleman had his mom living in a small home with him. He took his mom out there and showed her the home. She started to cry. The new home consultant called us to tell us they were crying in the welcome home center. The mother couldn’t believe that her son was going to buy a home that was going to allow her to live independent of her son.

    Looking back on your 21 years with Lennar, what was the Great Recession like for you? It was brutal. In 2006, the regional president said to me, “You’re going to be the homebuilding division president.” I wasn’t sure who he was talking to. I was blown away. I had been involved in land acquisitions, entitlements, development for many years before that but had never run a homebuilding division. He said, “You’re in charge.” Lennar had 450 associates in 2006. Within a few years we had 50. We were no different than anyone else. It was a game of survival. We figured out how to survive.

    What are you most proud of? When people thank you for making their family situation better. What I mean by that is they say, “I love my family, but living in this type of setting makes it so that we still have our independence and we can get together as much as it’s convenient for the both of us.” In this business, you get a chance to take a piece of raw land and turn it into a community where families have their life experiences. That’s a pretty cool thing to drive around the Valley and look at the different communities that exist. It’s very rewarding. But it’s even more rewarding when the individual buyers thank you for making their family situation better.

    Advice to younger self: Don’t take yourself too seriously. Work hard and realize that if you do your best and treat people fairly, then you are a success.

    Alan Jones

    Title: Division President, Phoenix

    Company: Lennar Corp.

    Age: 63

    Education: Bachelor’s in finance, Brigham Young University

    What makes you tick: I am motivated by being involved in a worthwhile cause. Homebuilding is a worthwhile cause because you get the opportunity to create a community where families can grow and create fond memories for life. I am motivated by seeing friends, family and associates grow and succeed.

    Character trait most proud of: Integrity

    Character trait need work on: Patience

    Wish you knew 20 years ago: Mistakes are beneficial as long as we learn from them and become better.

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