18 June 2013

Dan Gilbert calls PulteGroup's CEO a 'punk' over Atlanta move

Story Originally Appeared in The Detroit News

Friday’s news that the PulteGroup Inc. — one of the nation’s largest home builders — will move its Bloomfield Hills headquarters to Atlanta in 2014, prompted immediate public criticism from Quicken Loans’ Dan Gilbert.

“If rumor true @Pultehomes is moving HQ to Atlanta then punk CEO & invertebrate board even worse than its P&L (profit and loss) last 5 years & that’s hard to do,” Gilbert tweeted just before 1 a.m. Friday morning.

Gilbert, who owns more than a dozen Detroit buildings, moved the headquarters of Quicken Loans to downtown Detroit in 2010.

A Quicken Loans spokeswoman declined additional comment Friday afternoon.

Asked to respond to Gilbert, James Zeumer, Pulte’s vice president, investor relations and corporate communications, said the company will keep some workers in Michigan but noted that much of its business is now in the southeast.

“In the end, this move will bring us closer to our customers and a larger portion of our investment portfolio. The southeast has grown to represent 37 percent of our 2012 closings and 43 percent of invested capital, so we see this as the right move for the future of the organization,” he said. “I would also reiterate that we will maintain our local homebuilding operation in Michigan. That staff of about 54 will continue their excellent work building and growing this market, and some of current corporate employees may find opportunities within that organization.”

Bill Pulte, grandson and namesake of the company founder, tweeted “PulteGroup moving 200 people was news to us, but we’re happy they’ll keep some large operations in MI. As a family, we are committed to MI.”

Via Facebook, Oakland County executive L. Brooks Patterson said he was “disappointed” in the company’s decision to move.

“However, we respect any company’s right to determine its future,” Patterson’s statement said. “Oakland County continues to attract thousands of sustainable, high-paying jobs in the knowledge-based economy through our Emerging Sectors, Medical Main Street, and Automation Alley initiatives. Oakland County is helping to drive Michigan’s economy.”

Robert Filka, CEO of the Home Builders Association of Michigan, said Friday that the move “doesn’t mean a whole lot for homebuilding in Michigan.”

“They are still going to build homes in Michigan,” Filka said. “Corporate headquarter location decisions, for publicly traded companies, can be influenced by lots of factors.

“The fact is our state has a multitude of small and medium-size builders. And while we certainly would rather they keep their corporate headquarters here, our industry is on the rebound in Michigan and I don’t see any gap that is left.”

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