Homes by Avi was started in 1978 by Avi Amir in Calgary. Twenty years later, with the help of lasting relationships built with their customers, Homes by Avi expanded into Edmonton, where they now have 22 show homes in operation. The 1998 expansion into Edmonton gradually opened up a new frontier in 2005 – Austin, Texas – after a brief stint in Spokane, Washington. The Austin business is now on a steady growth path even though the competition is tough, but the lessons learnt in Spokane have been invaluable to the success of the Austin branch. Homes by Avi’s headquarters and all corporate activities still reside in the founding city of Calgary.
DESIGN by DESIGN
Homes by Avi is a force to reckon within the Canadian home-building industry, not only because of their reputation for building community relationships wherever they go, but for their constant striving to involve the home-buyer in key aspects of the home they choose to build and live in. Instrumental in this initiative is their design centre – Avi Definitions – which is the brainchild of Charron Ungar, President of Avi Urban. At this facility, the consumer is given the benefit of choice like nowhere else; Ungar’s vision was to offer something that none of the competition did – a place where buyers can choose various elements of their interior with the added help of a professional and highly trained design consultant. The success of this initiative has been proven over and over again, not only by the many accolades it has captured but through the hundreds of happy homeowners who have helped build the Homes by Avi brand through the years since Avi Definitions was first launched.
Something that sets Homes by Avi apart is not merely what they do, but how and why they do it. When speaking recently with Sandra Young, Vice President and General Manager at Homes by Avi – Edmonton, she was quick to distinguish the importance of not only their customers; but also their employees and trade partners. As she discussed the companies respect for each of these categories, Young commented “without [our employees – customers – trade partners] we wouldn’t be anything”
One of the major forces at Homes by Avi came in the form of Sandra Young. Her contribution to the company has gone much beyond what she’s done for the company since she came on board in 2003 as Controller: she has been a tremendous force in shaping the housing industry and the business industry as a whole in Alberta. Young was recently named to Alberta Venture’s List of 50 Most Influential People. She has also been the driving force behind Homes by Avi winning the National SAM Builder of the Year Award 2007 and being placed among the finalists for the same accolade consecutively in 2010 and 2011.
Monte Kendall, CEO of Homes by Avi, says this about Sandra Young and her contribution to the home building industry: “You don’t get that by just showing up for work. It takes dedication, attention to detail and looking after your customers, your staff, your trades and business partners.” As well, Sandy was recruited by the local chapter of the Canadian Home Builders Association as a volunteer where she represented the industry in resolving ongoing issues. She continued to grow professionally with the Association where she now holds the position of President CHBA Alberta. At Homes by Avi, we are looking forward to seeing where Sandy can take us next.”
“I am honored to be recognized in this prestigious list. My real reward will always be the opportunity I have had to work with teams of volunteers who represent the residential construction industry. I feel so fortunate to work with people who share my passion for the homebuilding industry in Alberta,” says Young.
If a measure of a company’s success is in the accolades and awards they have won, then Homes by Avi has been riding the crest of the wave for quite a few years. However, the fact that these home builders aren’t going to rest on their laurels is probably why they are still wowing their customers and their industry with the work they do and the relationships they build. This year alone, they bagged four major category awards in the prestigious 2012 Awards of Excellence in Housing; these are:
- Best Sales & Information Centre – Single Family (Avi Definitions Selection Centre)
- Best Single Family $300,000 – $330,000 – The York
- Best Single Family $430,000 – $550,000 – The Princeton
- Best Renovation under $125,000 – The Whitecroft Kitchen Renovation
For Avi Definitions, this is the second accolade, the first one being won for Best Sales Office in the 2011 CHBA National SAM Awards. The fact that Ungar’s concept has gained so much acceptance is very likely to do with the fact that this is exactly what home buyers were looking for in a home builder but couldn’t find until Homes by Avi came along. Says Paulette Richter, the Selection Centre Manager at Edmonton: “Winning this award is tremendous for Avi Definitions. Our selections team has made the design centre a place where “Homes by Avi clients can bring to life their vision of their home’s interior finishes.”
AVI in the COMMUNITY
As a builder Homes by Avi believe in taking responsibility for the communities they are building. And in speaking with Sandy about their numerous partnerships throughout the province, this is assuredly a company that operates with a clear vision, not only of building quality homes, but in developing quality communities. Each year Homes by Avi is involved in partnering with the Calgary Stampede Lotteries. This year’s much-anticipated Homes by Avi Rotary Dream Home is valued at $724,950. However, the community involvement only begins with the Stampede Dream Home. For the past 15 years Homes by Avi has been supporting Ernest Morrow Jr High in a variety of ways. Located in the southeast community of Forest Heights, Ernest Morrow School is a junior high school with nearly 500 students in grades 7-9. With everything from a Career Day, to financial contributions and even creating an art show to display the talented students handiwork. “Homes By Avi has been a strong advocate of supporting student interest in the fine and practical arts and literacy. Through joint building projects with Homes by Avi, our Construction Technology classes were the beneficiaries of donations of materials so they could create projects in their class.” — Craig Barabash, Principal Ernest Morrow.
Support for the community is not limited to merely a corporate policy. The staff at Homes by Avi are not afraid to roll up their sleeves and lend a hand. In typical Albertan fashion many of the core staff were recently involved in supporting Habitat for Humanity in Edmonton. The workload carried in wearing multiple hats couldn’t keep Sandra Young away from the chance to don a hardhat and get directly involved as even the ‘higher-ups’ spent time installing cabinets, swinging hammers and doing whatever it takes to assist a worthy cause.
Recently Young was quoted, “we are firm in our commitment to building Albertans’ dream homes and fostering positive community relationships in the cities we help shape. Our dedication to our customers and the communities they call home is a pillar of our success and reputation.”
FINDING SOLUTIONS in a SEA OF PROBLEMS
Building a home is not an easy task. There are ten thousand and one things that can go wrong, get mixed up or simply cause delays. From weather, to materials, to sub-trades to inspections and permits, with a thousand houses a year Homes by Avi is not immune to dealing with problems on the job site or with the customer. As with any business Young doesn’t claim that they have never made a mistake, or experienced delays, but in her no nonsense attitude she explained that it’s all in how you deal with problems that sets you apart. When dealing with any delays, oversights or any other minor issue, Homes by Avi’s core values of respect, integrity and honesty shine through. Perhaps this is why Homes by Avi’s “Customers who have had to deal with problems, are often the ones who are repeat buyers.” Because they understand that the people who are building, care about what they are building, and about the people who they are building it for.
The company has grown by leaps and bounds since its inception in the late 70s and now comprises three main operational divisions: Homes by Avi Single Family, Avi Urban and Avi Renovations. Each of these contributes its share to the more than 1,000 residential real estate units that Homes by Avi builds every year in North America. The company constantly re-thinks and uses innovative approaches in its product development cycle while keeping at the forefront the fact that they are not merely building houses, but homes.
THE VISION – THE VALUES
Their very clear strong point comes from the fact that they consider their stakeholders – customers, trade partners and employees – to be an integral part of their success. It is perhaps for this reason that Homes by Avi has built a formidable reputation as being one of the best in its class in Alberta and Texas.
With their trade partners, Homes by Avi has built lasting relationships through honesty and integrity; by working tirelessly with their suppliers, they are able to impart the belief that quality is everything, and that together they should consistently work to raise the bar every time. This they’ve managed to do admirably, and it is the key to how Avi Amir has always approached the business world. With his constant guidance, these principles have been ingrained into every member of staff and trade partner that the company works with; the result – a consistent approach to how issues are dealt with and addressed, leading to customers gravitating towards them as the builder of choice.
Homes by Avi doesn’t merely build homes – they build dream communities that their clients can be proud of years after the construction is completed. The drive to excel in every area is evident in the amount of positive customer and industry feedback that keeps pouring in on the company.
In the words of the founder and President, Avi Amir: “We are proud of our reputation, and the fact that we have been, and continue to be, recognized in the industry and by homeowners. When you do a good job and you are recognized for it, it makes you feel good! The better our good name and reputation, the more we want to protect it.” Wise words from the company’s visionary, and a simple formula for tremendous success.