CEO John Wieland with The JW Collection joins the Atlanta Real Estate Forum Radio podcast as the first Legends of Real Estate guest! Wieland joins host Carol Morgan on the All About Real Estate segment to discuss his incredible 50-year journey in the homebuilding industry.
The recipient of more customer satisfaction and professionalism awards than any other builder in Atlanta, Wieland has been building homes in the metro Atlanta area for over 50 years and is responsible for training a large portion of the talent working in the industry today.
With a start in 1971, Wieland remarked on how different the industry is today in comparison. Armed with a single hammer, a credit card and his Volkswagen Beatle, Wieland transported building materials to and from job sites. By the end of his first year, his company closed on 12 homes, with six under construction. (Tune into the show to find out how the VW Beatle plays into this!)
In direct contrast to today’s open floor layouts, homes previously featured little wasted space. A typical split-foyer home would boast a first floor with a garage and bonus room, a second floor with a kitchen and living room and a top floor showcasing the home’s bedrooms. Back then, homes were commonly priced from $30,000s with plumbing included!
Wieland revealed, “A big problem today, in my opinion, is affordability. How do people get on that first rung of the ladder? Home equity is the primary source of wealth for most American families, and you’ve got to get started. We need small, affordable homes that aren’t an hour and a half from where you work.”
When asked about what inspired him to enter the homebuilding industry, Wieland cited unemployment. While in business school, Wieland worked in the building materials business with his roommate. After experiencing little success, Wieland decided to leave the venture and search for his next opportunity. With two young kids and unemployment looming, Wieland entered the homebuilding industry with his experience selling building materials under his belt.
To date, Wieland has built over 30,000 homes during his 51 years in business. During this time period he built and the subsequently sold his flagship company John Weiland® Homes. After that sale, he started his current homebuilding company, the JW Collection.
Model homes and design centers, now common aspects of the industry, used to be uncommon. Wieland and his team became pioneers in the Atlanta market for this new addition to the homebuying process.
Wieland said, “Homebuyers could come in and pick the pieces they wanted for their dream home. We’re proud of our early work in that.”
Fundamentally, homebuilding experienced significant slowdowns in the Great Recession, with Atlanta experiencing a peak at 60,000 building permits in 2006 and three years later, only 6,000 recorded permits.
Wieland shared, “You can prepare for 10%, 20% shrinkage in your business but when your business shrinkage reaches 90%, you can’t prepare for that.”
To draw attention to the company’s inventory of finished homes, Wieland and his marketing team dreamt up the infamous 101 Home Sales campaign. The idea was to travel in a Winnebago to Atlanta, Charlotte, Raleigh, Nashville and Charleston to promote the communities until he sold 101 homes.
Weiland said, “We would pull into one of our cities…and I would drag [myself] into an unsold home…and I would make myself at home.”
During every first night in the new city, Wieland hosted an event for the company members and worked with his marketing team to get press coverage. Employees participated by providing essentials such as coffee in the morning and little touches such as making his bed to elevate Wieland’s stay.
For every sale, Wieland wrote a welcome note to the buyers and presented it to the now, brand-new homeowners. With no days off other than Easter, the entire campaign lasted 60 days and gained national recognition in a challenging market.
In the Great Recession, many builders lost their capacity to build. At the start of the 2020 pandemic, many were fearful of similar conditions. During the 2008 recession, companies lost many skilled tradespeople and when building ramped up again, there was a lack of resources to meet the demand which led to inflation.
When the pandemic began, buyers and sellers were equally anxious about entering the market under safe conditions. Once circumstances began to shift towards normal, there was a dramatic decrease in housing inventories across the country. Bidding wars, supply chain disruptions and more led to a volatile market that greatly benefited sellers.
A fundamental key to John Wieland’s success is the selection process he used when hiring new talent. Through interviews and assessments, Wieland searched for exceptional people who share a love for the housing industry.
Wieland shared, “We are helping people with one of the fundamental needs in their lives – a great place to live.”
On top of the search for talented individuals, The John Wieland offered an Accelerated Corporate Training (ACT) to act as a detailed training program and launching pad for new hires.
When asked what advice he would offer individuals entering the industry today, Wieland responded by saying that identifying a portion of the industry that resonates with your sensibilities is key. To find success in homebuilding, the work must resonate with you.
According to Wieland, the most rewarding part of his career has been working with employees, contractors and suppliers. He made a point to prominently feature suppliers and contractors that have been with the building company for over 10 years on plaques in the company’s headquarters to honor their incredible work and relationships with the company.
Known for building in high-end markets Wieland’s current company, The JW Collection focuses heavily on density. Land acquisition saw dramatic price increases in the past few while the lifestyles and needs of homebuyers changed as well. Homebuyers no longer place extra land and yard space at the top of their homebuying wish list. For further proof of this market shift, Wieland revealed The JW Collection sold a townhome for $1.3 million last year.
“People have learned to live vertically. We think of a big lot now as 50 feet wide,” shared Wieland.
In a current project, Wieland revealed The JW Collection is currently working on a plan to stack two homes on a single plot of land. The first family lives on the second floor and has ownership of the bonus room and the second family lives on the third floor, each with a one-car garage. This innovative thinking increases efficiency and is perfect for single homebuyers.
A popular trend in the industry today is also the increase in single-family rental opportunities. Wieland urges listeners to turn their attention to homeownership.
When asked about the industry’s increasing focus on DEI, Wieland said, “It has to be intentional…It’s not going to happen unless we make it happen.”
Wieland shared his experience with a bilingual trade contractor who moved into a learning position within the company and became a contractor. With the benefits of being bilingual and multicultural, he proved himself as a valuable company resource and helped build the company’s trade and member base.
Tune in to the full interview above for additional information on real estate giant John Wieland and the Legends of Real Estate series! To learn more about The JW Collection, visit www.JWCollectionHomes.com.
Georgia Residential Mortgage Licensee, License #22564. NMLS ID #6606. Subject to borrower and property qualifications. Not all applicants will qualify. New American Funding and The JW Collection are not associated. Click here to view the terms and conditions of products mentioned during the show. Corporate office 14511 Myford Rd., Suite 100, Tustin, CA 92780. Phone: (800) 450-2010. (March/2022)
New American Funding is a family-owned mortgage lender with a servicing portfolio of over 216,000+ loans for $56.8 billion, 171 branches and about 4,500+ employees. The company offers several niche loan products and has made Inc. 5000’s list of Fastest-Growing Companies in America seven times. For more information, call 678-898-3540 or visit https://branch.newamericanfunding.com/Atlanta.
The Atlanta Real Estate Forum Radio “All About Real Estate” segment, presented by Denim Marketing, highlights the movers and shakers in the Atlanta real estate industry – the home builders, developers, Realtors and suppliers working to provide the American dream for Atlantans. For more information on how you can be featured as a guest, contact Denim Marketing at 770-383-3360 or fill out the Atlanta Real Estate Forum contact form. Subscribe to the Atlanta Real Estate Forum Radio podcast on iTunes, and if you like this week’s show, be sure to rate it.