Creating memories is a big part of the workday at Chesmar Homes, and it starts on day one.

New employees coming to the Houston homebuilder are asked to fill out a form detailing their likes and dislikes, as well as what’s unique about them and what their goals are.

“What we don’t tell them is we’re going to read this in front of everybody,” said Don Klein, founder and chief executive officer of Chesmar. “We have a lot of fun with that. They remember.”

Once past the initial embarrassment, employees are immersed in the family atmosphere where everyone’s birthday is celebrated, there are potlucks for any occasion and coworkers regularly recognize each by decorating desks or contributing to the lengthy list coworker kudos in the biweekly Chesmarian newsletter.

The camaraderie is just one factor that earned Chesmar the No. 4 place on the Chronicle’s Top Workplaces ranking among midsize companies. The company, which decorates the walls with framed caricatures of employees, has made the list 11 straight years. A tree mural illustrates the company’s mission statement and values, which emphasize being yourself, having fun and doing the right thing.

“I am given the freedom to do my job my way with little interference but at the same time receive constructive feedback,” commented one employee in the surveys by research firm Energage. “I have never been told what or how to do anything while at Chesmar. I have been given suggestions and/or gentle nudges.”


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Since its founding in 2005, Chesmar Homes has become one the nation’s largest home builders, ranking No. 40 on the Builder 100, a publication of housing research firm Zonda. The company, which operates in the Houston, San Antonio, Austin and Dallas markets, closed nearly 2,100 houses last year, a company record, and is on track to build about 1,900 houses in 2022.

Sekisui House, a home builder and developer based in Osaka, Japan, gained a position in markets across Texas with the recent acquisition of the home building division of Chesmar Homes, and will complete the acquisition of its mortgage and title businesses by year end.

Chesmar builds homes priced from the low $300,000s to the high $500,000s in approximately 30 communities in the Houston area. The company has annual revenues of about $800 million, with Houston making up about 40 percent of the sales.

Klein has created a business model that puts happiness at the center, and factors in the needs of four components he says are key to most businesses: employees, customers, investors and business partners.

“My job is to make sure everybody is happy within a balance,” Klein said. “If everybody is happy, the business is going to make money. Money is a part of every one of these, but it’s not the major part of it.”

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