Wiltshire heads Pulte office here Leader: Cora B. Wiltshire is the new president of Pulte Home Corp.'s Baltimore division. Unlike her predecessor, she gets along with her boss. Pulte is the nation's leading homebuilder.

July 12, 1996|By Abbe Gluck | Abbe Gluck,SUN STAFF

Pulte Home Corp., the nation's leading homebuilder, named Cora B. Wiltshire president of its Baltimore operations yesterday, giving the division a leader who, unlike her predecessor, has a strong relationship with the regional president.

"Cora is a natural-orn leader," said Thomas D. Eckert, president of Pulte Homes North, the Pulte regional subsidiary of which the Baltimore division is a part. The subsidiary, which runs from Virginia to New England, has eight divisions.

Coming from Pulte's Fairfax, Va., division where, as executive vice president, she managed daily operations, Wiltshire said, "I'm now the person who is going to be setting the division's vision and course."

But Wiltshire said the course she'll set won't move Pulte far from the path the company has taken in its 39 years.

"I just want to continue what was started, to enhance it," she said.

Eckert predicted Wiltshire will shift Pulte's focus toward higher-priced, single-family detached homes.

"I think she buys into the philosophy that you have to have a very wide product offering if you're going to be successful," he said.

Pulte's offerings range from $80,000 condominiums to $800,000

detached family homes, Eckert said.

Wiltshire replaces Mike Schreder, who left the Baltimore office in May after six years. Schreder said he left the company because he and Eckert "did not agree on business philosophy."

Wiltshire said her relationship with Eckert is "terrific." Eckert originally hired her for the company in 1989.

"I always refer to her as my older sister," Eckert said, although he is three months older than Wiltshire, who turns 48 next week.

But a healthier relationship may not have much impact, said Matthew Roswell, home-building analyst at Legg Mason Realty Group Inc. in Baltimore.

"Pulte has always done really well in this area and, as a company, it's a very loose organization, so if there is bad blood, I don't know if affects anything," he said.

Wiltshire is the only female -- and the only nonwhite -- division president in Pulte Homes North.

But, she said, "within the company, I never felt at all whether or not I was female or a minority female had anything to do with my progress."

In the immediate future, she and Eckert said they hope to vault Pulte to the No. 2 slot in the Baltimore market, bumping Ryland Homes to third. NVR-Inc.'s Ryan Homes leads the market.

In February, Ryland posted 1995 sales increases in all regions except the mid-Atlantic. The Columbia-based company subsequently said it was redistributing its resources to other markets.

"Our mid-Atlantic strategies are diametrically opposed," said Eckert. He said Pulte's mid-Atlantic sales rose by about 32 percent last year.

Selling fewer units than its competitors, Pulte concentrates on its profit margin, Roswell said.

"Obviously, we're a for-profit organization, and our main focus is not to be No. 1 if that means we don't do what we set out to do," Wiltshire said.

In the first quarter of 1996, Pulte sold 136 units, compared with Ryan's 291 and Ryland's 155. But Pulte's average price per unit was higher, at $176,187, than Ryan's $149,845 and Ryland's $169,789, according to Legg Mason.

Wiltshire, who officially became president of the Baltimore operation at the beginning of June, moved here permanently Monday.

Her division employs 132 people and produced more than $112 million in revenue in 1995.

Pub Date: 7/12/96

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