Traditions of America L.P.
Traditions of America L.P. (Traditions) is building more than just 55-plus communities; the Pennsylvania-based company is improving the lives of consumers’ one home at a time. After 30 years serving the Mid-Atlantic, Traditions continues to develop lifestyle communities that offer award-winning homes and resort-style amenities that promote active living.
“There isn’t one community that sticks out over another,” shares Timothy McCarthy, founder and managing partner of Traditions. “What has really kept my motivation going all these years is knowing how important we are in our customers’ lives. I often go to social events and mingle with our customers. I’m overwhelmed by how moving to a Traditions community has changed their lives for the better. I repeatedly get heartfelt thanks, and often big hugs. It’s a great way to make a living.”
The 1997 baby boomer blast
McCarthy founded the full-service real estate development firm in 1985, on the leading edge of an approaching growth wave in senior housing. “We started out in real estate development with very little money and no employees, but eventually we achieved significant growth in the multifamily market,” recalls McCarthy. “In the early years, we did a lot of urban restoration work. Then we started to build larger, high-end communities in the suburbs. We completed a number of successful office projects. Basically, we engaged in a broad range of real estate development.”
McCarthy notes that 1997 was the magic year in the company’s history. “In 1997 we had the opportunity to purchase a few sites with zoning for active-adult housing and we started studying the market,” he recounts. “By the time the ’90s rolled around, the 55-plus population had grown significantly in numbers, household value and purchasing power.”
McCarthy went with his gut feeling; the strong market would eventually explode when baby boomers became empty nesters. “It was eye opening to see how many customers were out there and what little they had to choose from,” he explains. “Since 1997, Traditions has been all in for active-adult housing. We’ve built 17 large-scale communities to date, positioning ourselves as the leading active-adult developer in this region.”
A home base
Based in Radnor, Pa., Traditions has grown to serve the Mid-Atlantic region with 82 full-time employees. The company has carved out a strong niche in the baby boomer market in the area. “In the past, people retired and moved south to Florida or Arizona,” McCarthy explains. “Today, people have roots within the local community that they don’t want to walk away from. Many own a second home elsewhere, or travel extensively, but they want to stay active in the local community and remain close to their children and grandchildren.”
Traditions’ business has grown and evolved to meet the demands of its boomer customers. “The majority of our customers are in their early 60s and at a point where their children are independent and starting their own families,” notes McCarthy. “Whether they are retired or still fully engaged in their careers, they are ready to make a lifestyle change. Our clients want to be socially active, maybe take up a new athletic activity, or pursue charitable interests and enjoy the newfound time. We build a place where they can do that and the people around them share those interests.”
First-name-basis home buying
Although Traditions is building over 300 new homes a year, McCarthy and his partners, David Biddison and Nathan Jameson, still make it a point to meet nearly each and every customer. “In the last year, we’ve opened three new communities, selling 40 to 50 homes within the first hour,” he reveals. “Most recently we opened our Lititz community in Lancaster County, Pa. We sold more than $20 million of homes within the first hour we opened.”
It is evident that McCarthy and his partners take pride in their work. “We take the time to personally meet potential buyers to talk about their new home and what the community offers before any transaction,” he continues. “We are committed to staying close to the customer. We make a habit to meet most customers before they buy a home.”
When Traditions announces a new community, the company hosts educational sessions where hundreds come out for a formal presentation of the company’s building process, products and warranty. “We offer a top-to-bottom explanation of who we are and what to expect from the community,” ensures McCarthy.
This type of first-name-basis customer care has attracted clients to Traditions and has paved the way for record growth. “Even through the recession, we experienced significant growth,” unveils McCarthy. “Our revenues grew more than 20 percent in the last three years and in 2013 we were up by 38 percent. It’s been a dramatic growth record despite a weak housing cycle.”
McCarthy is proud to note that in the company’s 29-year history, Traditions has never recorded a loss. “Even in the depths of the recession we were earning profit margins similar to what other companies earn in their best years,” he elaborates. “I like to think most of that is due to forward thinking, commitment to the 55-plus market and good management, but there’s a little fortuity involved, too.”
McCarthy says Traditions is looking forward to geographical expansion, possibly outside of the Mid-Atlantic, but never at the cost of service. “We care more about quality than quantity,” he ensures.
And it shows, as McCarthy constantly feels the appreciation for Tradition’s work on a daily basis. “I’m often overwhelmed by the gratitude for our product and the positive impact it has on our customers’ lives,” he shares. “When I first got into this business I never realized how building a home is so important to people.” The company continues to build more than a home; rather, Traditions of America L.P. strives to create places where dreams are realized and where customers truly live better.
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