Ryland division chief is leaving

Jim Joyce will run Arizona operation

successor is Ed Gold

Residential real estate

August 19, 1999|By Robert Nusgart | Robert Nusgart,SUN STAFF

Jim Joyce, who helped put the Baltimore division of the Ryland Group Inc. back on steady ground, is being transferred to Phoenix in hopes of growing the Columbia-based company's presence in that thriving Southwestern market.

Replacing Joyce as division president is Ed Gold, Ryland's senior vice president of human resources in its corporate office. Gold, 42, will assume control of the division next week. He lives in Pikesville and has been with Ryland since August 1996 after working five years as vice president of human resources for USF&G Corp.

"We can continue to do well in Baltimore as long as we have a very stable management team," said Joyce, who came to Ryland in 1996. "Ed is a guy who has helped through all the transitions at Ryland in terms of corporate policies that have led us back to being as healthy as we are and in helping to make the personnel changes that needed to be made over the last several years to do that. That seemed like a fit."

Ryland has made a strong turnaround since languishing in the mid-1990s. This year has seen record earnings. The company last month reported that second-quarter net earnings doubled to $17.6 million -- the best second quarter in the company's 32-year history.

"We have concentrated the last few years on really getting profitability up and getting the return on investment up," Joyce said.

Gold takes over a homebuilding division that remains entrenched as the second largest in the Baltimore metropolitan area. Through the first half of 1999, the division has reported 274 sales in 24 communities and has a 5.5 percent market share, according to the Meyers Group, a Washington firm that tracks and analyzes new-home sales.

The average sales price for a Ryland home in the Baltimore area is $174,573.

Gold said he has been "very active" in Ryland's communities the last three years and "one of my functions was to help division presidents and their teams maximize their operations."

Joyce said that when he took over the Baltimore operation, it ranked in the lower third in profitability of the company's 18 divisions. "Going out, it's probably No. 4," Joyce said.

"Ryland feels really good about Baltimore right now," Joyce, 52, said. "It just is not looked at as a place where you are going to go out and do 2,000 units. But it is a very stable place."

Anna Pitheon, regional sales director for the Meyers Group, said Ryland's recent success has come not only as a result of the high demand for homes, but as a "company that has transformed itself from production oriented to one that is much more market oriented.

"Their product has changed so dramatically and it continues to evolve," Pitheon said. "The company takes more risks.

"I think Ryland has done an excellent job in recouping position and overall market share," she said, but added that it's doubtful that it will close in on Ryan Homes, the area's dominant builder.

Joyce has been charged with turning Ryland into more of player in the Phoenix market. Joyce said Ryland is the 14th-largest homebuilder in the area, selling 750 to 800 homes a year.

That is in contrast with one of Phoenix's market leaders, Continental Homes, which delivered more than 2,200 homes last year.

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