In a changing economic climate that has affected the real estate industry in so many ways, it has taken careful business planning and strategies to keep a company thriving. Ivory Homes is Utah’s top home builder, thanks to the hard work and dedication of Clark Ivory, the CEO of the company.
Clark’s father, Ellis Ivory, was the founder of Ivory Homes, and he passed the torch to his son when he retired in 1999. Ellis’ entrepreneurial mindset, combined with Clark’s business management abilities, was the perfect dynamic to building a company that could soar through any type of economic climate.
Clark has lead the Ivory team forward with a strategy that has kept them in the forefront of the market, which has made Ivory Homes Utah’s #1 home builder for 24 years– leading the market in the number of homes, quality, and customer service. In 2011, Ivory homes built 521 units in Utah, worth $101.5 million. According the data in Construction Monitor, these figures show that Ivory is far ahead of their competitors– in fact, Ivory homes is bigger than both the 2nd and 3rd place home builders combined.
Over the years, Ivory Homes has sold over 13,000 homes, and the company also has the largest number of building permits issued in Utah, with 418 home permits in 2011. Additionally, the company has been operating debt-free despite the huge growth they are experiencing. Clark is continuing to keep up with an ever-changing market, and the company is planning to build 10,000 apartments by the year 2030.
These new apartments will round out the home options that Ivory has to offer to customers. The goal of the company has been to provide homes for people in every stage of life… everything from town homes, to move-up homes, to vacation homes, and even luxury villas. These communities are built throughout Utah, catering to many of the popular locations in the state.
It is interesting to note that Clark didn’t always have the goal to work with his father, and eventually manage the company. In fact, Clark started down a different career path. He attended the University of Utah and studied political science, which led him to a Washington D.C. internship with Sen. Orin Hatch. He also worked for the Triad Center and the state office of economic development as a market researcher.
During his college career, Clark showed his strong work ethic by taking heavy class loads so that he could graduate in 3 years, while also working 20-30 hours each week. His during his career path, he started working with his father as a salesman for the company. His aggressive approach in sales brought in many new customers, and he continued to help with other aspects of the company as well.
Clark attended Harvard Business school, and the strategies and techniques that he learned were applied to the way Ivory Homes was managed. He began to adjust their accounting systems and improve business practices even more. He was so dedicated to improving the family business, that during his last semester in graduate school he attended classes Monday thru Wednesday, and flew back to Utah Thursday thru Sunday in order to work as Ivory Homes’ sales manager.
After Clark graduated from Harvard in 1992, he worked with his father to improve the quality of their business and pay down the company debt. Their focus was on improving the homes as well as the customer experience, and they made critical changes in the business to be sure every home buyer was happy with their purchase.
Clark was so dedicated to improving customer satisfaction, that he restructured his staff to improve service. Half of the Ivory Homes staff was fired, and the new staff was trained to focus on customer satisfaction. In recent years, surveyed customers have shown that they are happy with the homes they are buying, with the exit surveys displaying the satisfaction in the 90 percent range. In fact, the current survey results are nearing the upper 90s, which is much higher than the 74% satisfaction that was reported when the initial surveys began.
Keeping Up With Economic Changes
Clark’s father, Ellis, retired in 1999, and the company was turned over the Clark. It continued to grow steadily, and the number of yearly home closings nearly doubled between 2003 and 2006. Revenue quickly grew, starting at $100 million in 2000 and increasing to $470 million in 2007.
Clark knew that the real estate market fluctuates, and in 2005 he began to suspect that the market would begin to cool. He watched the trends carefully, in order to mitigate the effects that a market change may have on the company. He realized that the housing market trends at the time were unsustainable, and started to warn others that there were signs that the bubble was going to burst.
Because of these efforts, Ivory Homes was prepared for the downturn. Clark made sure that the business was debt free by 2009, and they began to be more cautious about who they were willing to sell the homes to. In fact, Clark Ivory decided to begin ramping down in 2006, which was the time when most home builders were ramping up. So, when the housing market finally turned, Ivory Homes was prepared.
Because the company was on solid ground throughout the economic downturn, they were able to change their focus to helping potential home buyers qualify to buy a new home. Ivory has a department that focuses on helping people to improve their credit, and another program to help home buyers lease their old homes if they are unable to sell them.
Clark Ivory’s Personal Accomplishments
These business successes show a glimpse into Clark Ivory, but to really understand who he is, it is necessary to also consider some of his activities outside of Ivory homes. Clark has dedicated himself to volunteering, and helping to improve our community. He is chairman of the board of trustees at the University of Utah. He has served on the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco’s Salt Lake City branch. In the past, he has also served as a member of the Board of Trustees of Intermountain Healthcare, and as a chairman of the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce.
Clark has also been working on initiatives to help students at the University of Utah. He established an Ivory Homes Scholarship Program in 2004, which has been ongoing and it is designed to help first generation students. Another initiative has been an organization called U Community Leaders, which focuses on increasing the number of scholarships and internships that are available for both undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Utah.
In each of these roles, his leadership has shown through. Clark’s actions, both with Ivory Homes and other organizations that he has been associated with, have shown that he knows how to step into a leadership position and improve the organization.
In his personal life, Clark Ivory is a sports enthusiast who enjoys a range of activities. In his office, he has photos of everything from his kids with Jazz basketball players, at the Australian Open, and with pro golfers. Clark also has a few footballs that are autographed. Additionally, he is a sponsor of the Utah Jazz and has been a long-time ticket holder.
For more information about Ivory Homes, visit the many resources that are available on our website, ivoryhomes.com. Also, you can request a free 2012 catalog with new home designs and floor plans you will love!