As the Southeast Florida Division President for DR Horton Homes, the Gold Coast Builders Association's 2022 President Rafael Roca discusses the year that was and what is ahead for the upcoming year in this episode of the Builders Spotlight.
Join Builders Spotlight host Sam Yates to find out a bit of the personal side of Mr. Roca and what some of the challenges the nation's largest and most recognized home builder has for 2023.
If you are considering becoming a Member of the Gold Coast Builders Association, this episode also gives a view of how the home building industry impacts every community and every type of business.
Let's step into the Gold Coast Builders Association's Builders Spotlight.
The Gold Coast Builders Association Builders Spotlight Podcast is produced by Yates & Associates Public Relations & Marketing, providing exceptional marketing, public relations, and crisis communications for businesses of all sizes throughout Florida and the nation. For information contact your Builders Spotlight Podcast host Sam Yates Sam@YatesPRO.com.
Content may be used and rebroadcast with permission from the Gold Coast Builders Association https://www.gcbaflorida.com.
Hello, everyone, and welcome to another exciting and interesting episode of the Gold Coast Builders Association Builders Spotlight Podcast. News You Can Use and news discovered just for you, no matter whether you're a builder and associate or a future home buyer. Let's find out who's in the builders spotlight today with your podcast host who nails it every time. Sam Yates, you know, this is something that I really enjoy, because it's the the podcasting talent that comes forward and says, Get in the spotlight. And we are in the spotlight today with the builder that everyone knows, we're looking forward to a very active year of information from the Gold Coast Builders Association, doing a couple of things with this program today, looking back into 2022, as well as looking forward from last year as the current year's leadership to say, thoughts, ideas and inspiration about where we are going. And my guest today is Rafael Roca. Raphael is the division president of DR Horton. And before I go too much further, I want to say DR Horton is one of the most respected if not the most respected builder in America. And if my research is correct, the largest. So Rafael, welcome to the program today.Rafael Roca:
Thank you for having me, Sam, greatly appreciate it. Looking forward to it.Sam Yates:
Tell us a little bit about yourself. I always start every program by getting a little bit of information about our guests. So everybody can realize that you're a real person, as well as that person in the leadership position.Rafael Roca:
Yeah, definitely a real person. I'm a, I'm a South Florida native. You know, there aren't many of us down here. There's a lot of Trent many transplants as you, as you well know, which is good for our business and good for our industry. So born and raised down in Miami, with their high school, Christopher Columbus High School and then continued on at the Florida International University where I graduated with a degree in construction management in the School of Engineering. I would go to school at night, as I started my career in the construction business, I would work during the day and take classes in between, in between that, and then night and then graduated in 1985. But started with this company, as a private builder called Hepler homes. And I seen any three Hepler homes was bought out by a large company called continental homes, and then continental homes and Dr. Horton merged in 1989. So I spent 29 wonderful years with the largest builder in the country for 20 years in a row. So very excited about that. I'm very excited to continue, you know, managing this division as I have since 2010. As a division president, I'm married with five kids, I have four grandkids, as well. And my lovely wife, Elena, we've been married for 27 years, and giving me nothing but joy, and I love fishing, love skiing. It's just it's great to be down here to be honest with you. And I appreciate the opportunity to give you a little bit of insight on myself.Sam Yates:
And you know what I have to say, I'm happy to meet another fellow South Floridian you're right, they're not too many of us. But God bless them all for moving here, despite what some people say when they're stuck in traffic once in a while. But your last year? Looking back, you know, it was a real strong year in many, many respects, what are some of the things that stand out to you as being highlights during your presidency of the Gold Coast Builders Association.Rafael Roca:
So a couple of them it. Two of the ones is, you know, we made a lot of legislative progress. And that's one of the things that from our planning meeting is one of the things that we'll continue to strive on, you know, Gold Coast builder association is an association that has come back and come back stronger than ever, and needs to be a voice and a voice, it will be continued to be heard. You know, we had some, some things come up this year that we challenged the county on, and we ended up winning. So I believe that you know, the name and the brand will continue to grow. So I and that is something that we need to continue to push on a local level, on a municipality level and on a state level. And that's what we'll continue to do. So, to me, that is one of the areas that I think this association can really grow. And then the next thing is membership involvement. To me, getting all of our members and our associates involved in all the things that we did, you know, one of the challenges that we had over the last couple of years, obviously COVID Right. And being able to bring everybody back, being able to meet back in person was difficult, you know, the beginning when everything seemed to open back up, people were still a little skittish. So we believe we're back now in full force. We've got everyone involved, what we have going forward and the group that we have, I think is very exciting. And I think we've put the pieces of the puzzle in place for the gold toilet association to be, you know, one of the stronger associations in the Florida market for years to come.Sam Yates:
You know, I'm on the same page as you. I'm a member of the Board of Directors, my second year here with the Association. And I have to say, as some of my talents became known, the leadership said, Whoa, you know, we need people like you, and I'm proud to play a part of this. And I think that's key to everything that we do is to look to our members, what do they bring to the table. And along that line, we have some large figures that can really speak volumes about recruiting and retaining our membership, Agree,Rafael Roca:
Agree 100%. I think you know, the current board with the larger builders that are there, you know, you got to have a mix, right? You got to have the larger builders, that can attract a lot of the trades. And then you got to have those associates that are just out there networking's, it's a whole array of different people from different industries, is great, you know, if you saw our board now, we have, we have attorneys on there. Now we have accounting on there, we have so many different trades, just besides, you know, it's called a builder's Association. But there's so many trades and different areas of the industry that we affect. And to me, retention is key in growing this association. And then bringing on different industries and different facets of the industry to be able to grow is the best way to do it.Sam Yates:
With that in mind, I want to get more into some of the information about Dr. Horton, I wear many different hats. I think once you're a reporter, you never get out of being a reporter. So I've got my reporter hat on now, I would like to find out a bit more about where Dr. Horton is right now in the the overall scheme of things, how's business doing?Rafael Roca:
So, you know, the market has definitely taken a little bit of a hit, as we all know, you know, over the past, what six months, there's been four, four interest rate hikes or five, I think it's somewhere between there. So the last 10 years of buyers in the marketplace, they've only known one thing, and that's 3% interest rate. So to them, anything for five and six is a high interest rate, I think you as well as I know that if 5%, or a 6% interest rate is still a darn good interest rate. And that's the message that we continue to put out there. And we continue to deliver that message, letting folks know that if you can lock in a home right now, with Dr. Horton, at a five and a half percent interest rate for 30 years, you're getting a very good deal. And, you know, we're gonna get through this market, you know, between the interest rate hikes between the elections, and then the holidays. Now, at the end of the year, this is always a tough time, to be honest with you. Our selling season always has always been down in South Florida, we always use the Super Bowl as a benchmark. And that's when the selling season starts. I do believe that come the turn of the year and 2023 starts, that there is going to be a demand for housing because there's still a housing shortage down in South Florida and throughout the United States, to be perfectly honest with you.Sam Yates:
And some of the folks that I talked to in my work all over the state and some of the other states. We also are seeing a lot of migration from the southwest coast due to what happened with a hurricane there. So people are now looking again, for a great place to live. And you have the answer to that.Rafael Roca:
Yes, we do. We've had, we've had some migration from Southwest Florida, I can tell you over the last couple of years, with everything that's been going on in the United States, we've had a lot of migration from the West Coast of the United States, which we really didn't have that much of over the last 20 years that I've been here. But we've seen that a lot. We continue to get the Northeast buyer to come down to our northern Palm Beach and Martin County communities that has never changed and those those have increased over the last couple of years. So yes, besides southwest Florida, there's been a lot of migration into into the South Florida market as everybody loves it down here.Sam Yates:
What are some of the challenges that your company in particular sees going into 2023 labor, interest rates are going to change but what are some of the other challenges?Rafael Roca:
So I kind of speak for South Florida because every market you know, we're building 90 markets and 33 states so every market has different challenges but here in southeast Florida, you know, we have really expensive land prices and that is one thing that we continue to push back on and land sellers you know, as the market increases sales prices increase the price for their land and the price for their farm, and everything increase so we are you know That's something that we're evaluating right now as, as the market has changed a little bit. And then material prices and labor costs have just gone through the roof. We've seen labor costs come down some, quite quite a bit, actually over the last few months. But on land development side, we have seen those numbers continue to increase as the cost of material the cost of fill, the cost of pipe is still it's hard to get. So when something is hard to get, what do they do they raise the price on it. So you know, really the biggest challenge that we have is labor costs, material costs, and continuing to train folks to get in the business. I think one thing you'll notice, if you drive job sites today is I wouldn't, I would say it's an old, you know, labor force, but it's an older labor force. And getting that younger generation to come into the homebuilding industry has been difficult. And that's something that we work on here called Cosmo Association.Sam Yates:
And as a matter of fact, for our audience, we are planning to reach into that area and talk about those things with some of our other board members, some of our members. So if that is something that piques your curiosity, make sure that you subscribe to this program. And we're going to delve into it as well. labored market, as you see that there are you say that it's an older workforce, and we're constantly out there striving, any thoughts on where our market our labor market has gone? What is it what's happened to the people?Rafael Roca:
You know, I don't think it's, it's not that it's gone. It's, you know, the newer generations have so many other avenues to get into so many, let's call them online avenues that they can do. They have worked from home programs all across everything, every industry, right? That but homebuilding is a hands on, out in the field, get dirty type of job. And that is not for everybody. And one of the things that we've noticed or seen is that, you know, being able to that, that owner of that company, has kids, and they don't want to take over the business, they don't want to even get into the business. And they're trying to figure it out. And we've had this conversation with several of my trades over the last few months. So it's just interesting to see that dichotomy shift into where this industry is going to be. So we need to continue to do a better job of getting into high schools, getting into colleges, and recruiting and training our those folks out there to let them know that, you know, a lot of the owners of the businesses that I deal with today, were workers 10 15 years ago, now they own a business and they've been able to grow. So the possibility to grow into an owner, yes, is there, it's gonna take a little time. And that's something that needs to be trained in the newer generations, the sense of patience has to be there. SoSam Yates:
and I can attest to the fact my family was in the construction business, and every summer, that's what I did through my high school years into early college, and my dad had high hopes of getting me to take over the business. But it was just not something that at that time that I really wanted to do and how I ironic that years later, after being in the broadcasting, public relations, marketing industry, what do I find comfort in doing? Coming back to that, which was my roots? In many respects, I'm hoping that a lot of folks do that. I always look for a little bit of news. And maybe there isn't something you can share that's absolutely newsworthy with us today. But I always have to ask, is there some news that we can break with the Gold Coast Builders Association, builders spotlight today,Rafael Roca:
The only thing I can tell you is that it is an association that's making its mark on the map. And it's putting itself on the map. And I can tell you to become a member now. Join online at Goldcoast gcbafl.com. It is something that you will not regret, the networking, the partnerships that you will gain here. And the opportunities that it will open up over time would be will be nothing short of spectacular for you. I can tell you that. I've met so many great people here that have just been you know, when I first got involved, opened up their arms and helped me get through the initial process and now I'm trying to do the same. And I can tell you that it's just been it's been a great thing and the Gold Coast boat Association has a lot to offer. And it continues every month we talk about is how do we get better. And that doesn't mean better for us. That means better for our associates better for the people that are out there the industry so people so we can continue to grow this.Sam Yates:
You know, I'm glad you said that because a lot of people may drive by a construction site or see a lot of activity and they think Wow, that's that's impacting our economy because those guys are building working. But what they fail to realize is that it really is impacting our community in many different ways. It's not just the the brick and mortar sticks that are going in the ground. There's so much that let us pass along to our community isn't there?Rafael Roca:
There? There is quite a bit. I mean, at the end of the day, what are we doing? We're building people's dreams, right? The dream of homeownership and owning a piece of property. We cater to the first time buyer, that's that's what we do. So that first home for someone is incredible. And you see their faces and you see the way that they you know, treat that home as as unbelievable is great. And I can tell you, when you when you drive by communities that are under construction, and there's 2030 trucks, think about the number of people that you're that you're dealing with a number of people that you put in business, and are able to make money and feed their families. It's a it's a phenomenal thing. homebuilding industry, the construction industry has a lot to do with our economy and our economy continuing to grow. So I'm a firm believer that we need to keep the homebuilding active, we need to keep homebuilding going to keep this economy going.Sam Yates:
Something you had mentioned earlier, during our our episode here is that we as a builders organization faced some challenges on legislators who wanted to put some very onerous costs on us simply because we're building that, in turn would have impacted the cost of housing, and everyone is looking for affordable housing, some thoughts on on those two and how perhaps they interact.Rafael Roca:
They interact tremendously. So that you know, the cost that the legislative costs that we're going to increase is really just a direct pass to the buyers. At the end of the day, the cost of our land prices. As I mentioned earlier, the cost of materials and goods, all of that gets factored in, when a builder is looking at what what the market can afford for a home. And putting all those pieces of the puzzle together absolutely affects the customer, when you go to open up a new community, or whether you don't open up a new community because it just simply putting those pieces of land costs, development costs, destruction costs, and let its legislative costs together, they add up to more than what the housing that some marketing can purchase a home for, then that's a that's an inverted I can remember the term, that's an inverted formula there, that just doesn't work. And so it's our job to continue to push back on material costs, legislative increases, to make sure that we can keep housing affordable for our buyers down here. South Florida is probably one of the most expensive areas in the state of Florida to purchase all. But we have many beautiful things. You know, we have the blue waters, we have the blue skies, we have the white sand beaches, we have you walk out today on December 16 day, and it's 80 degrees outside, there's many places that don't have this. So, you know, we have some beautiful things to offer. But at the end of the day, if two working parents cannot afford a $500,000 home, we've got to find a way to fix it.Sam Yates:
Indeed, and part of that is education. And that's one of the things that we're tasked with here. We have an affordable homes for all website that to be real honest, I'm doing some updates to that website, today and into the weekend and into next week. So we want to be able to share with those of us who are members information as it comes in and is readily available, but also for our public and our legislative leaders throughout our communities and throughout the state and national level. So at every opportunity, take it upon ourselves. I think we should take it upon ourselves to educate, educate and educate because a lot of people either take us for granted as the building community or are not totally aware of what little tiny things can do to our communities.Rafael Roca:
I agree with that. 100% I think I think we sometimes are taken for granted. I think the educated that what you said educate, educate, educate, to me is the most important thing. Just getting the word out getting the knowledge out to people about what we do is one of the most important things we can do. Yes.Sam Yates:
All right. I have a couple of tough questions now. better brace yourself. First tough question. Will you come back again for another episode in the future?Rafael Roca:
I want to I enjoy this I think I think you're a great ambassador for Gold Coast Builders Association, and I would absolutely do it again.Sam Yates:
Second question. This is a little bit easier. Someone wants to have information about Dr. Horton and getting their new home. How can they go about that?Rafael Roca:
Well, that's a great question. I like that one better than the ww.dr horton.com is the best place to go. And you'll see every market and every state that we build in, as I as I mentioned earlier, it's over 100 markets and 33 states now that we're in nationwide, down here in southeast Florida. If you go to the website and you type in southeast Florida, you'll see everything all the communities that we have, we currently have communities open in Stewart, Jupiter, Green Acres, Deerfield Beach, Miami Dade County, homestead and Florida city that we're currently selling in one of the beautiful things that we have, you know, we've gone through a little bit of a transition here in southeast Florida, we have seven over 15 new communities opening up in 2023, Sam, so we're very excited. And as I mentioned earlier, we cater to the first time buyer move up buyer. So we are very price point conscious, and make sure that we deliver a quality home at the right price. So we've got a lot of great things coming down here in southeast Florida for Dr. Horton.Sam Yates:
And I can attest to that based on a lot of my friends who have decided to become homeowners and guess who they turned to. So you know, they speak extremely well. High quality craftsmanship, affordable price point, Dr. Horton. And we want to underscore that because it is true. Final question. Is there anything that we have not touched upon that you would like to mention or talk about before we wrap up today?Rafael Roca:
Well, to me, I think the first and foremost is, you know, the board of directors and the executive board that we have is second to none, I can tell you, we've come a long way over the last few years, to be able to put the right pieces of the puzzle together and get those gentlemen in place. Frank Copeland's new president coming in, in January, is going to take this association to the next level, we're very excited, and very excited for what everybody does. And we appreciate what all of them bring to the table to make this association better. This is a, you know, think about it as a part time job that you don't get paid for. So everybody's giving up their free time and their free will to make this better. So I appreciate all of them and what they do. And then I gotta give a special shout out to Katy, and Andrea for everything that they do for the Gold Coast Builders Association, because we would not be where we are today without those two ladies, and I appreciate them every single day. SoSam Yates:
I know. I know before the end of the day, KT is going to voluntold me for something new.Rafael Roca:
That is for sure.Sam Yates:
That is for sure. Mr. Roper. It's been my pleasure to have you here on the program today. And for our listeners. This is the Gold Coast Builders Association, builders spotlight. It's available wherever you get your podcast, even if you're sitting at home or have your Siri or Alexa, all you have to do is say Alexa, play the latest episode of the Gold Coast Builders Association builders spotlight. And there we are. So again, thank you for being on the program today.Rafael Roca:
Thank you, Sam and Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to you and everybody else out there.Sam Yates:
Very well. I'm looking forward to a new year and we are going to cover some awesome territory here. So in the meantime, I'm Sam Yates. Have a great day everybody. Thanks for listening to the Gold Coast builders spotlight. If you have a guest or a topic you would like to recommend, contact your GCBA builder's spotlight podcast host Sam Yates, or the Gold Coast Builders Association, the GCBA Builder's Spotlight Podcast building relationships one podcast at a time. Have a wonderful day everyone