- Pat Hamill names a new president of Oakwood Homes.
- Kristen White has been with Oakwood for 17 years.
- White helped guide Oakwood through the great recession.
Kristen White has been named president of Oakwood Homes LLC, the largest privately-owned, Denver-based home builder in Colorado.
Pat Hamill, who previously had been president, will continue to serve as the company’s chairman and CEO.
“Kristen has been an Oakwood Homes veteran for over 15 years and has all the qualities we look for in an associate — energy, passion, communications skills and the commitment to execute our mission,” Hamill said.
“I am confident she will bring her passion and leadership skills to the role and make an innovative Oakwood Homes’ president.”
White, who joined Oakwood Homes in 1997 as a sales counselor, rose through the ranks becoming director of sales and marketing in 2007.
White helped guide the company through the economic downturn and is leading company growth, including expansion into the Omaha market.
White has helped the company become the No. 1 locally owned homebuilder in Denver.
In the first five months of the year, Oakwood pulled 132 building permits, according to the Home Builders Association of Metro Denver. The only Denver-based company that had pulled more permits was Richmond American Homes. Richmond, which pulled 588 permits through May,is part of Denver-based MDC Holdings, one of the country’s largest publicly trade companies.
Oakwood was the seventh most active builder in the first five months of Denver, according to the HBA of Metro Denver. Of the top seven builders, only MDC and Oakwood are based in Denver.
In 2011, Oakwood had a 12.6 percent share of new home sales in the metro area. Last year, Oakwood sold 492 homes and expects to sell 700 this year, more than a 42 percent increase.
“My commitment to the Oakwood Homes family is unwavering, and I am excited for this opportunity to lead as we continue to grow and invest in our local communities,” White said.
S. Robert August, a local housing consultant, said White will do a good job.
“Kristen has had a great career in sales and marketing and has wonderful organizational skills,” August said. “She will be an asset to the leadership of Oakwood Homes.”
Jeff Whiton, president and CEO of the HBA of Metro Denver, said that White is not the first woman to have a major leadership role for a builder with a major presence in the Denver area.
“Chris Presley runs the Denver division for Meritage Homes,” Whiton said. In addition to being the Colorado division president for Meritage, she is a vice president for the parent company, which is based in Scottsdale, Arizona, and has a $1.65 billion market cap, the same size as MDC.
“Susan Powers is the founder and president of Urban Ventures, which builds (urban infill) residential. Cheryl Schuette used to be president of Village Homes.” He also noted that Cynthia Edwards was the president and CEO of Wonderland Homes until she retired last year.
August noted that Sue Sichler previously was a senior vice president at Richmond American Homes and Marcy Coonce is the CEO of Porchfront Homes in Boulder. Also, Heather Lafferty is CEO of Habit for Humanity of Metro Denver.
“If you look at our board at the HBA, we calculated that of our 32 directors, 42 percent are women,” Whiton said. “Women are playing an increasingly important role in the homebuilding industry in the Denver area.”
However, Hamill said that women presidents of a homebuilder the size of Oakwood Homes are far and few between.
“If you look across the whole country, you could not find a half dozen women presidents of a builder of our size,” Hamill said Friday evening. “I think it is very imporant to have women in leadership roles. Women typically make 80 percent of the buying decisions.
“My experience is that women make very good leaders,” Hamill continued. “The decision to make Kristen the president is a very popular one at Oakwood. The announcement has been very well received.”
Hamill, however, did not name her president because she is a woman.
“I’ve been watching several people over the past 12 to 14 months and Kristen was clearly the person who rose to the top,” Hamill said. “She will be very good at finding new niches for the company and marketing us. First and foremost, we are a sales and marketing company. She will pay attention to what consumers want. She is a very good listener.”
Oakwood is one of the greenest production builders in the nation and she will help them promote that aspect of the business, Hamill said.
Hamill said with the homebuilding business having gotten back on its feet following “the huge slide in our business during the financial crisis,” as it will allow him to focus on growth and other issues.
For example, the company has recently entered Omaha and is getting ready to build homes in Salt Lake City, he said. “We are also looking at Boise, Idaho,” Hamill said.
“I will still have finance and accounting and development and land acquisitions,” Hamill said. “Having a president in place will allow me to plan for long-term growth.”
White also plays a major role in managing Oakwood Homes’ support of community programs and nonprofits including St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Denver Health Foundation, The First TEE of Denver, Boys & Girls Club of Metro Denver, Toys for Tots, Home for Good and Children’s hospital. She is on the board of the Foundation for Educational Excellence.
White received her Bachelor of Science in biology from the University of Colorado at Denver and is currently completing an executive MBA at the University of Denver.
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