About the Author
Our MarkSystems Community User of the Month is Julia Phipps, Operations Coordinator with New Leaf Builders, a custom, semi-custom, and build on-your-lot homes in Charleston, South Carolina. In this interview, Julia discusses her career path, how she’s seen the home building industry change, and advice to those entering the industry.
What was your career path?
After college, I spent a couple of years working for a temp agency. I recommend that every college graduate spend time as a temporary worker; the experience taught me every useful thing I know. I temped for companies including an insurance broker, a software company for nonprofits, and government contractors. I also worked for a REALTORS’ startup company for a few months and gained experience on the sales side of the business. When the startup didn’t take off, the temp agency placed me at New Leaf pretty quickly, where I’ve been for the past seven years. I started as an Office Manager and now work as Operations Coordinator.
How do you see your role evolving over the next few years?
I really enjoy working for a company that is small enough that I can fill different roles as our needs change. Having thus far done almost anything associated with home building aside from field management, I could be in a wildly different role in six months. Right now, I am focusing on permitting. One of the few positive side effects of COVID is that it forced government agencies to make it possible to do a lot of things remotely. That trend will likely continue, increasing productivity for both builders and government agencies.
What's the most challenging aspect of your job? What do you do to overcome that challenge?
REALTORS. If anyone has any ideas, let me know.
How have you seen the home building industry change in the last few years?
Resistance to any development has really been heightened among both the public and jurisdictions. The price of impact fees and moratoriums has driven up the cost of new homes on top of the material cost increases. At the same time, everyone acknowledges that the housing shortage is only getting worse and that more and more buyers are priced out of the market every day.
How has COVID impacted your current operations?
In March of 2020 we didn’t know if we were going to have to close the company for good. No one could have predicted that COVID would cause the industry to heat up like it did. Instead of folding, we have more than doubled our staff and are on track to build twice as many homes as last year. We’re selling out of available specs in a way that we hadn’t in years. On the other side of the coin, we’re struggling with material availability and costs just like every other builder.
What’s the one MarkSystems’ feature that you or your team can’t live without or helps you be more productive/efficient?
I’ve worked with MarkSystems for almost a year now. Before this system, we used a constantly changing Excel spreadsheet to track buyer selections and design items. It was impossible to keep it perfectly current across every house and keep track of outstanding design requests. Having the ability to print one report showing all the current selections on a home is so helpful.
Do you have any specific successes you'd like to highlight?
It wouldn’t have been possible to ramp up our production as quickly if we hadn’t transitioned to MarkSystems. We can count it as a major factor behind creating new job opportunities within our company.
What was the best career advice you received? Do you have any tips or advice for those entering the home building industry?
I was once told that it was best to come to managers with suggested solutions rather than just problems. Thinking ahead and presenting an issue along with “and here’s how we can fix it” really speeds things up for everyone and helps maintain a positive working environment.
Favorite thing to do outside of work?
Outside of work, I love to spend as much time as possible with my extended family.
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About the Author