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Sarasota County builder wins America's Best Builder

Sarasota-based Neal Communities has been named America's Best Builder for 2012 by Builder magazine.

This award is just the latest for the company, which has received many other national, state and local awards since it started in 1970.

The company was awarded the title based on community service, design and construction, financing and operations, customer service and marketing, said Denise Dersin, editor in chief of the magazine.

Companies vying for the title were judged by a panel of industry peers and previous award winners.

"More than any other time, this year and last year were probably the most difficult times for all home builders," she said. "To stand out head and shoulders above everyone else at a time like this is quite a feat."

With 403 sales and 376 closings in 2011, Neal Communities was one of the few builders to make money last year, Dersin said. The company won the award in the 100-500 closings category, joining three other builders in other size categories.

Company owner Pat Neal said he expects sales to increase by 20 percent in 2012 and by 30 percent for 2013.

"We're here and alive and ready for the next housing cycle," he said.

Tony Polito, a housing consultant with Tampa's Metrostudy, a national company that tracks the construction industry, credits Neal Communities' success to the local reputation and brand the company has developed in Sarasota in the past 42 years. Neal Communities holds about 28 percent of the building permits in Sarasota and Manatee.

"We continue to move away from the bottom in terms of new home start activity and (Neal) is far and away the biggest builder in the market," Polito said.

In response to Florida's stagnant construction industry, Neal said the company is making homes smaller, so they are cheaper to buy and build, and worked to make its houses more energy efficient.

These steps helped cut costs by 40 percent, Neal said, and the company has always strived to meet its standard of good customer service and attention to detail.

He added: "I think this award will help us by putting a national recognition on something that we have learned to do well locally."

Sarasota County builder wins America's Best Builder 01/13/12 [Last modified: Friday, January 13, 2012 11:03pm]
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