Top Workplaces

LGI Homes: Focus on training, goal-setting pays off in employee retention

LGI Employees visit the NASDAQ in June to celebrate National Homeownership Month.
LGI Employees visit the NASDAQ in June to celebrate National Homeownership Month. Photo courtesy of LGI Homes

Mike Sabik, LGI Homes’ division president for the southeast region, firmly believes his company’s culture and practices are the key to its success.

“A lot of companies talk about being people focused, and LGI walks the walk when it comes to that” he said.

That tone starts with CEO and board Chairman Eric Lipar and President and Chief Operating Officer Mike Snider, who get their hands dirty and lead by example – they even sit with customers at grand openings.

Sabik, who oversees operations in the Carolinas, Tennessee and Georgia, said he worked for years at a different homebuilding company and never even met the CEO. But at LGI, “We have 700 employees, and Mike and Eric could walk in and call out people by name.”

He said it’s easy to buy in as an employee when you see that type of character in an executive leadership team.

LGI Homes is a publicly traded homebuilder based in The Woodlands, Texas, that was founded in 2003. Sabik’s team of about 40 employees is based out of Lancaster, S.C.

The division is just shy of having a 90 percent retention rate, Sabik said, and the fast-growing company has never had layoffs. The area he oversees has even gone two years without losing a construction manager – a revolving-door position in most homebuilding companies.

“We are all focused on people, and that’s what makes a difference,” he said.

Managers set both personal and professional goals every month with every employee. “What better way to get your finger on the pulse of how people are doing than sitting down once a month with your direct reports? There’s a simplicity to the business model that makes it easy to be successful,” he said.

Sabik described the homebuilder as a systems-based company. “We have a process for everything and a manual for every department ... so there’s a roadmap to success.”

One employee nodded in agreement via the Top Workplaces survey, saying, “I don’t have to create the wheel. It’s a sales system that’s already set in place. All I have to do is implement it at the best of my ability while constantly improving it.”

Sabik noted that managers also make it a point to find learning opportunities instead of publicly criticizing employees for mistakes. “We hire the best – that’s part of our culture. And we’re going to train you up. We train more than any company I’ve ever worked with ... Others say they’ll do goals and train, but this company is committed to it, hook, line and sinker.”

The company hangs a “culture board” in every office nationwide, serving as a constant reminder of its six core values: exceptional customer service, integrity, ethical behavior, loyalty, efficient use of time and resources and profitability.

Those values extend to giving back to the community through the LGI Giving initiative. The past two years, LGI’s Charlotte-area employees have teamed up with more than 50 of the company’s trade partners to spruce up Hope Haven Inc., a residential facility that serves families struggling with alcohol or drug problems.

Sabik said that annual Service Impact Day is a “powerful thing to be a part of” and is most employees’ favorite day of the year. Last year was spent remodeling family apartments, and this year was focused on adding recreation opportunities by putting in a sand volleyball court, a half basketball court and horseshoe pits.

“Everyone here works harder than they’ve ever worked in their career and are jumping out of bed to get to work in the morning,” Sabik said. “We’re supplying people with and helping them attain the American dream, which is homeownership.”