Highland Homes finds ways to thrive in tough market
Employees of Highland Homes are smiling despite tough economic times, officials say. "We've had a lot of success despite the economy," says Kathie McDaniel, director of sales, marketing and advertising for the Lakeland-based home-building and development company. "Our focus is on price and value. We may not be the cheapest, but we'll always work on offering the best value at the lowest price.'' McDaniel says that strategy has paid off. "Visitors to our model homes have picked up steadily over the last few months. We've seen more than 700 visitors a month recently - up from 400 a month a few months ago."McDaniel credits Highland Homes' success to its owners - Bob and Joel Adams - and their vision. "They have a great knowledge of the industry and how to succeed, regardless of market conditions," she says. "They've stressed on offering the best value for the money, how to draw people to the model centers and how to best serve customers." While focusing on building the best product possible, the pair also has made training for the company's sales force a priority, McDaniel says. "If we spend money to attract buyers to our communities, then have the best sales people to work with them, the most loan programs for all potential buyers and provide the best price and service, we'll win every time," she adds. Highland Homes builds in eight communities across the Tampa Bay area and several throughout central Florida. With more than 40 floor plans for buyers to choose from, Highland homes provide 1,200 to more than 3,000 square feet of living space and are priced from the $130,000s to the high $200,000s. Standard items include smooth top ranges, recessed lighting and the newest mica for countertops, so buyers can get the look of granite without the cost,'' she says. Ceramic tile, two-car garages and access to interior designers in the company's design center also are part of the home-buying package, McDaniel says. "We have a full, functioning design center with a wide variety of choices and selections for buyers. We don't limit choices either; there are thousands of items for people to choose from when they're designing their homes' interiors." The company recently has focused on building homes in communities that offer buyers a complete lifestyle, McDaniel says. "We're building in golf course communities such as Bridgewater in Lakeland and the Enclave of Imperial Lakes in Lakeland," she says. "People are looking for lifestyles and the golf-course communities are perfect for that." Ayersworth Glen, a master-planned community in Riverview, is the company's top-selling neighborhood, with amenities such as a fitness center, nature trails, sports courts and two pools. "It's close to the interstate and a variety of shopping and entertainment venues, so along with the homes' values, people are able to define their lifestyle at a price they probably didn't think they could afford," McDaniel adds. With the motto "the value leader," Highland Homes prides itself on offering well-built homes and a variety of community amenities to its home buyers, McDaniel says. "Our company is also unique in the loyalty and respect we have internally," McDaniel notes. "The owners, as leaders, set the example and there is an outpouring of affection and respect for each other. When employees enjoy who they work for, they tend to work harder and smarter." For information on the builder and its communities, call (863) 619-7103 or visit the company's Web site at www.highlandhomes.org.