Experience. It is the nucleus of a business, depended upon by every successive layer of its framework. Much in the way that a biological nucleus controls the activities of a cell and carries the gene structures that contain hereditary information, experience governs how well a business functions and plays a key role in its potential for success. It is the primary consideration of clients and investors and the utmost precursor to establishing trust.
Twenty-one years. In the span of this time, a person will work an average of 5,460 days—five thousand four hundred and sixty days of learning, cultivating skills, facing challenges, growing, and improving. Such is the case for Steven Davis. He’s been in the field of real estate since the iPhone was invented and the Boston Red Sox won the World Series. And, in all that time, he’s been as consistent as the North Star, guiding his companies and his teams through the ups and downs and everything in between.
From his role as project manager for KB Homes, to the founding of his first company, Skylar Parker Construction & Development, where he capitalized on the robust investment property market resulting from foreclosures, Steven has demonstrated a talent for recognizing developing trends in real estate. Under his direction, SPCD remodeled over 25 homes per year in the Phoenix Metropolitan market, to the delight of Steven’s investors. Add to that the adulation of an industry that has showered him with accolades—including multiple Residential & Commercial Building Contractors Awards and Hall of Fame Awards in addition to Community of the Year Award—and there is no question as to his invaluable experience and passion for his work.
In 2021, Steven brought it all to bear as the director of procurement for Lessen, Inc., a property service company that connects property owners to a nationwide network of vetted professionals for renovation, maintenance, cleaning, and turn services. It was the perfect opportunity for Steven to employ the unique skills and insight he had gained as a company owner and real estate builder—an incontrovertible asset to Lessen clients, who now rely on, and benefit from, Steven’s 5,460 days of experience.
Steven is genuinely thrilled with his role at Lessen because it not only allows him to utilize everything he’s learned, but indulges his passion for sharing that knowledge. “It’s exciting because I can really dig my teeth in and foster success in others,” he shares. “I’m looking forward to putting together processes and procedures for our team, but with influence from other teams as well so that we’re all working together and learning from each other.”
In what is akin to an homage to Steven, we spoke with him to learn more about his background and how it is shaping his future and the future of Lessen, Inc.
Steven, what inspired you to enter the real estate industry at such a young age?
My inspiration to go into real estate stems from my father—I wanted to be just like him. He was division president and became the COO for a National Homebuilder, and I would tag along when he drove to job sites. I became familiar and comfortable with the industry and enjoyed seeing an empty lot turned into a home or watching the revitalization of a distressed property. I take great pride in showing my own children the transformations I’ve been part of and illustrating the effects this can make in a community.
Does your experience as the leader of your own real estate development firm give you unique insight or skills that play a role in your effectiveness as a director of procurement for Lessen?
Yes, I do believe that running your own real estate firm gives you a set of skills as well as additional insight that you might not be exposed to otherwise. Once you’ve owned and operated a firm and truly understand the challenges of cash flow, project costs, and business overhead, you’re able to apply that knowledge and skill set to any position in a real estate development firm or property service company such as Lessen. As a business owner, you wear a lot of hats and understand the importance of how each role within a division directly affects the success of the company as a whole. It is imperative to respect the people who occupy those positions and value their contributions. I always say, “There are no small roles—every person in an organization is equally important.”
What did your work entail as project manager with KB Homes? Was this your first job in real estate?
I started as an intern with KB Homes, which entailed prepping homes for a walk-thru, and learning about the home-building process and all the components that go into it. From there, I was hired as a Builder 1, which is a back-end superintendent, supervising the build from its earliest stages to finalization. After a year, I was promoted to Builder 2, which is a front-end superintendent. Two years later, I was promoted to project manager, overseeing the front- and back-end superintendents, ensuring construction schedules align with closing dates, managing the budget, and collaborating with the sales and service teams. I could not know at the time, but the breadth of this experience would be of great value to me some 21 years later, when I joined Lessen.
Tell us about your role at Lessen, Inc.
As the director of procurement, my responsibility is to negotiate contracts with national suppliers for all aspects of expenditure, including direct material expenditures, which includes securing deals with suppliers for housing amenities such as flooring, appliances, paint, etc. and facilitating economy of scale. This enables us to secure the best prices for Lessen. In turn, we can procure materials on behalf of our clients, providing them the best value and completing their projects expeditiously. I also have a focus on indirect spend, such as apparel, Lessen merchandise, and uniforms for our front facing department members.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
I'm an analytical person by nature. I enjoy capturing data and scrutinizing it to find inefficiencies. It's a puzzle to me—"How can I make this system or process better, more efficient, and more effective?” I like leaving things in a better place than I find them, and I truly believe people and organizations work best when they have the tools needed to perform effectively, which then increases productivity.
What would you say are your greatest achievements?
Professionally, it was getting my real estate license at 19, then becoming the youngest project manager for KB Homes when I was 20, then starting SPCD Inc. Personally, it was teaching myself to play the drums and touring in a popular alternative band.
Director of Procurement, Lessen, Inc.
“Steve’s best qualities are his intelligence and eagerness to learn, a rare combination.”
- Steven Logan, Division President, K. Hovnanian Homes
“When I was building my team at Lessen, Steve immediately came to my mind. It is not only Steve’s incredibly deep knowledge of the industry that makes him a great leader, but the energy and compassion he brings with him is hard to find. We are lucky to have him as a part of the Lessen family!”
-Barbara Clark VP of Procurement, Lessen Inc.
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