Case Studies

Dan Ryan Builders

Continuing a Tradition of Value in Homebuilding

Dan Ryan began building homes in 1990. When he founded Dan Ryan Builders (DRB), Dan followed in the footsteps of several generations and over seven decades of family experience in the industry, as Dan’s uncle founded Ryan Homes and his father founded Ryland Homes in the 1960s. However, Dan is not the only one carrying on the Ryan family tradition, as his brothers Jim and Pete own and operate Rylea Homes and Ryan Legacy Homes, respectively.

“I was very blessed growing up in a homebuilding family,” explains Dan. “My father, uncle and brothers were or are currently all extremely successful homebuilders. Somewhere along the line I learned the business and how to run a profitable homebuilding company that was actually building houses and not relying on the appreciation of land, which so many national companies end up doing.”

Dan seems to be doing well by the company, as DRB has been in business for 23 years, operating out of a headquarters in Frederick, Md. “I think one of the major strengths of our company has been consistency,” Dan notes. “Our mission has been pretty consistent all the way through, and that is to provide the best value in homeownership. That is still exactly what we do. DRB really has a unique niche in the homebuilding business in 2013. We are a large, privately held homebuilder and there are not many of us around. It’s pretty exciting that the systems we have in place are pretty sophisticated and rival what national builders do from systems standpoint. The difference is in our people.”

Customer Satisfaction Prevails

The company builds homes specifically in developed communities for a range of customers who choose the “Dan Ryan Difference.” Dan, much like his family members, got into the homebuilding business for the financial rewards and the internal satisfaction of watching customers building their lives in his homes.

“The most important aspect of our company is making sure we have satisfied customers,” Dan explains. “Folks ask me who my boss is, and my boss is the person who ends up purchasing a home from us. If we want to know how we are doing as a company, we will drive around one of our communities on nice day and ask customers if they like their home or not. That’s the best barometer I know of on how I’m doing as a homebuilder.”

In 2012 DRB surveyed its customer base, and 95 percent of Dan’s customers responded that they would recommend a DRB home to a friend or family member. “At the end of the day, that is what it’s all about,” Dan says. “Especially in the last five years, the experience we are giving customers has been dramatically improved. Really, it’s not only building a good quality home, but also the experience our customers get from day they walk into sales center to the day they settle on their home and beyond.”

The Quality Builders Warranty Corporation, as of 2013, has awarded DRB the Builder of Integrity Award five years in a row for Dan’s continued commitment to a memorable customer experience.

Surviving the Housing Bubble

The recent economic downturn has been one of the worst in history for the housing market. “It really weeded out a lot of builders,” Dan explains. “Quite a few of them didn’t make it. Many regional builders ended up purchased by nationals, but we’ve stayed true to our roots and continue to grow.”

The business is still privately held, locally focused and incredibly nimble. “We like to think we really have our thumb on the pulse of market,” Dan explains. “It allows us to make decisions quickly and that’s important. We are able to implement changes probably as quickly and effectively as any builder I’m aware of.”

Dan’s hands-on approach to leadership has kept the team on course for growth. The business runs lean, without the tie-ups of middle management. DRB is able to shift direction quickly and get ahead of the potential problems that can bog down competitors. When the market started to change, Dan got together with his board members to determine how to take advantage of downturn. The team opted to seek out top talent while people were looking for more stable employment.

According to Dan, this led to hiring Ronny Salameh, COO of DRB since 2008. “Ronny was a pivotal hire for DRB and his influence led us to expand into Raleigh, N.C.,” says Dan. “Where, in 2012, DRB moved from No. 17 in market share to No. 4 overall, and we were the No. 1 privately held builder.”

Dan has clearly been steering the company well. “Now we can definitely feel a turnaround,” says Dan proudly. “There was a major change in tides back in 2012 and we actually ended the year very strong. That trend has continued in our first quarter of 2013. I’d say I’m cautiously optimistic.”

New Initiatives and Projects

With the industry making big strides in the recovery, Dan and his team are preparing for market growth. “We have really re-implemented our training programs,” he elaborates. “We are planning for the future. Any company needs to make sure you get right people on the bus, in the right position. We spent the last five years finding the right people and getting them in the right spots. Now it is time to train them. We have a strong corporate focus on training programs from a sales and production standpoint. It is nice that we are now in position to do that.”

DRB is also moving into new markets, and doing the appropriate homework to make the right impression. The team recently started building communities in Pittsburgh, Pa., and Greenville, S.C.; these are markets where Dan and Ronny think DRB will have a competitive advantage while remaining true to its mission statement.

Dan and his team have taken a personable approach to the entry and have established themselves as community members. According to Dan, this approach served the company well years ago when DRB pioneered production homebuilding in West Virginia, a particularly hard market to crack as a homebuilder.

“When moving into West Virginia, which is a very cost-conscious market, we were successful because we know how to build homes affordably,” Dan explains. “Bigger companies were unable to compete with us on so many different aspects. Within our market niche, as a private, regional homebuilder, our company forms relationships in that new market from the farmer who owned the land, to the developer who developed land, to the local contractors and the community itself. That really makes a difference. It’s not a quick strike, temporary operation. When the market turned, we didn’t pack our bags and hightail it back to the metro area. We are part of the community. We were there for the good times which everyone enjoys. When times got tough, we have stuck with the community. As cliché as it may sound, we care more than our competition.”

The care that Dan and his team at DRB put into professional relationships will continue to set them apart from other homebuilders. DRB consistently offers superior performance, bringing value through an involved, customer-focused process. Keeping its internal and external customers at the forefront of the operation, Dan Ryan Builders will continue to build lasting homes and lifelong relationships for many years to come.

For more information about Dan Ryan Builders, please visit: http://www.danryanbuilders.com.

Published on: June 29, 2013

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