Homebuilders celebrate

It wasn’t exactly the Oscars, but the 2014 Silver Nugget Awards had its share of glitter and glam at a March 29 ceremony at the Renaissance Hotel.

Those attending were dressed to grace the stage and accept their honors. A few even gave acceptance speeches.

It was a festive affair with dinner, music and announcers, who were accompanied by a giant slide presentation that displayed the winners and finalists.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal partnered with the Southern Nevada Home Builders Association to present the awards ceremony.

The association’s members were due a big party, since the last one was a decade ago. In that time the industry has seen the market skyrocket to uncharted highs and plunge to great lows.

“It’s really hard to celebrate when you are getting the crap kicked out of you,” said Nat Hodgson, association CEO and executive director. “This is the first awards ceremony we’ve done in (a decade). It was long overdue. We needed to pick our heads up and celebrate our huge successes.”

Hodgson, who has been working in the Southern Nevada homebuilding industry for more than two decades, said he remembers the Homer Awards, which the association produced from the early 1980s to 2004. Those awards focused on product instead of people, he said.

“Because it had been 10 years since the industry has been recognized in any way, we determined that not only product but the people in the industry who make everything happen, from customer service to construction to selling the homes, needed to be recognized,” said Claire DeJesus, publisher of the Review-Journal’s Las Vegas New Homes Guide.

She helped Hodgson present the awards.

Steve Schorr, vice president of marketing for the R-J, was the host. He opened the ceremonies with a nod to the recent troubled times for the industry, and told the attendees they were “survivors and entrepreneurs.”

“Homebuilding as much as any single industry in our community has suffered because of the economic downturn that struck Southern Nevada,” he said after the ceremony. “Those builders who hung in there and kept going became even stronger.

“I think any industry — when it rewards its own — does so in the belief that the industry should stand up to its own critics, its own challenges and its own champions,” he said. “What I believe the Silver Nugget Awards did was to create new champions for others in the homebuilding industry; to believe it could be them one day.”

All three organizers said they believe there will be a Silver Nuggets Awards presentation next year.

This year, the judges considered more than 130 nominations. Winners were chosen in 30 categories covering architecture, interior design, floor plans and sales and marketing.

KB swept the competition with five awards: Green Builder of the Year; Best Customer Service Representative of the Year (Irene Elicerio); Best Model Kitchen, 201 Square Feet and Over; Best Master Bath $401,000 and Over; and Best Sales Person of the Year, $350,000 and Over (Sherry Scanlan).

Pardee Homes, Shea Homes at Ardiente and William Lyon Homes came in second with four awards each.

Pardee topped the awards for best staffers with first place Marketing Director of the Year (Kathy Hilty); Construction Superintendent of the Year (Dennis Shavor); Best Model Kitchen, 200 Square Feet and Under; and Best Sales Team of the Year (Aime Sibley and Shannon Marler, Internet sales division).

“I think it’s terrific that the Silver Nugget Awards bring our industry and vendors together to recognize innovation in architecture and livability of the homes in the valley while also recognizing the people who make it all possible — sales, service and construction,” said Kathy Hilty, marketing director, Pardee Homes Las Vegas region.

William Lyon Homes won the Community of the Year Award for its Lyon Estates, and netted first in large single-family home design for 3,701 to 4,500 square feet and 3,001 to 3,700 square feet. It also won first place in the Interior Merchandising (Detached) categories.

Shea Homes at Ardiente dominated the smaller home designs with wins in the Single-Family Homes (Detached) for 1,400 to 1,800, 1,801 to 2,200 and 2,201 to 2,500 square feet categories. It also took home the Best in Design and Architecture Award.

The Lifetime Achievement Award went to Larry Canarelli, American West Development Inc. founder. The company also placed first in the Master Bath, $400,000 and Under division.

Other builders and communities that placed included: Lennar, Blue Heron, Toll Brothers, Harmony Homes, Warmington Residential, Pulte Group, Summerlin.

DeJesus said choosing independent, unbiased judges was key to presenting the industry awards.

“It was important the judges be independent, unbiased and reputable,” she said. “They focused only on the merits of the entries.”

The judges were: David Baird, director of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas School of Architecture; Samra Leedy-Keller of Chicago Title in Irvine, Calif.; and Tom Weston, co-founder and CEO of Weston-Mason &Associates, an independent Los Angeles-based advertising and marketing firm.

The industry sponsors for the awards ceremony included: Copper roofing and solar company, The Howard Hughes Corp., imortgage, Pardee Homes, Southwest Gas Corp., American West Development Inc., D.R. Horton, Hirschi Masonry, Alpha Landscapes, Premier Mortgage Lending and Pulte Group.

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