By Katie Murar

Times have changed since the last time New Home Co. (NYSE: NWHM) founder Larry Webb departed a company as chief executive. 

He left John Laing Homes in 2008, two years after selling the Irvine homebuilder for $1 billion in one of the largest ever private builder transactions, and right as the market was about to fall into a nationwide financial crisis.

Now, skies are bluer for the homebuilding industry, and the real estate veteran is more optimistic about the timing of his departure as chief executive from the Aliso Viejo-based public homebuilding company he started a decade ago. 

“This is something I’ve been planning and thinking about seriously for about a year, and I think the company is in a perfect position as I step down,” Webb, who announced his departure as chief executive last week, told the Business Journal. 

“I didn’t want to turn the company over to [future Chief Executive Leonard Miller] until I was sure we were in a good position.” 

Webb’s not going far—he will remain active in the company as executive chairman, and he is arguably more invested now than ever: he recently increased his equity ownership to about 4% of the company, regulatory filings indicate.

“I don’t even know what to say to Larry’s announcement other than a legend moving to a new role,” said Ivy Zelman, chief executive for housing analyst firm Zelman & Associates, during the final earnings conference call led by Webb, a 2018 member of the Business Journal OC 50 listing of the area’s most influential executives. 

10 Years of Change

Webb departs his role on Aug. 30, the 10th anniversary of the company he founded. 

“I’m a poetic guy,” Webb joked.

Much has changed in the economy in the decade since Webb founded New Home, which was started in the teeth of the Great Recession, a downturn that claimed several builders as victims, including John Laing. The company has a market cap of about $87 million, and has been among OC’s largest builders of high-end homes since its founding.

In its first year as a public company, New Home reported second quarter 2014 revenue of $22.5 million. In its most recent filing, the company posted a quarterly profit of $1.6 million on revenue of $162.7 million. 

Its stock price, however, has been trending down since early last year; its shares are about a quarter of where they were in 2015.


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