Ashley Kent leads home construction
Working as a woman in a male-dominated industry can be a challenge. So can taking over the leadership of a major home construction company. But ASHLEY KENT, president of Kent Homes, has proven equal to both tasks. Kent has not only shepherded the company through the pandemic, she has also developed practices to ensure its sustained growth and high-quality service.
“It was a big step, moving from the day-to-day work of the business and focusing on strategic initiatives,” says Kent. “I committed to keeping Kent Homes’ high-quality, customer-centered culture.”
The home building business isn’t new to Kent. Her father, who was a builder, and her mother, who was a realtor, started the company in 1989. However, Kent planned to be an attorney and graduated from the University of North Carolina Asheville with a degree in international studies. Then Kent realized that law wasn’t the right fit, and to her father’s surprise, asked him for a job.
Thus began Kent’s training in the construction industry. After her first posting in the company’s warranty department, Kent became a project manager, member of the sales team, sales manager, and vice president of sales and marketing. In 2020, Kent became president of the company.
There is no doubt that Kent has a true aptitude for the business. She led the company in new home sales while still a newbie and then turned its sales systems into a best practices sales operation. Kent also, with her father, received the Best Practices Home Builder of the Year Award in 2017, and she was selected as one of Professional Builder Magazine’s 40 Under 40.
Kent’s tenure as president of Kent Homes has been demanding. No sooner had she stepped into her new position than COVID happened. Kent has overseen the dearth of home sales during the pandemic’s early days, the shift to virtual home sales, and the current flood of new home customers. To forestall the negative impact COVID is having on business today, Kent has initiated a number of new practices. For example, to avoid delays resulting from supply chain problems, she orders windows, appliances, and other housing materials months before building ever begins on a home. Kent also honors prices she set on homes even if they exceed her expectations.
With Kent’s solution-focused strategies, the company has thrived, she says. Kent Homes has increased revenues, and this year’s presales of new homes are already sold out.
Her goals for the future include further increasing revenue, gaining market shares in developed communities, and entering 2023 with a backlog of new home sales. Kent also hopes to build the next generation of leadership for the company, as a significant number of its key employees are nearing retirement age. Last but not least, she is committed to ensuring the company retains its number one rating for customer service.
For Kent, building new homes for clients is not just a job. It’s an honor.
“I feel like we have the opportunity to be a huge part of someone’s journey,” she says. “We work with a client and build their dream home. That is very satisfying.”
To view more of photographer Terah Hoobler’s work, go to terahhoobler.com.
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