“We're just coming out of a recession where we've lost membership and now membership is starting to grow back,” he said.
Last year proved to be the busiest for Oklahoma City-area homebuilders since 2007, with a 31 percent increase in building permits over 2011, so the association's new educational offerings on how to run a business may be coming just in time.
“This is a business, and many times, at least in the past boom, some of the builders that fell away were because they hadn't done the business stuff,” Crout said. “They knew how to build the house, they knew how to put the sticks ups, but they didn't know how to run a business.”
For Crout, running a business is second nature. A native of Watonga, Crout studied finance at the University of Oklahoma and spent the first five years out of college as a stock broker. He said he moved to Mustang about the same time simply because its small-town atmosphere at the time reminded him of his hometown.
He made the leap into development, founding Crout Cos. in 1977.
“I met some people from Mustang that kind of encouraged me, and so I went into developing,” Crout said.
Looking ahead, Crout said the association will keep an eye on the state Legislature as the 2013 session continues, but that the biggest concerns could lurk in city ordinances. Last year, Oklahoma City leaders ultimately dropped a part of the newest building code that would have required sprinkler systems in new homes, but the issue hasn't gone away, Crout said.
However, the issue taking front and center has to do with traffic lights, Crout said. Oklahoma City ordinances require the first developer of a new neighborhood to bear the expense of installing traffic lights. Crout called that a development killer.
“A traffic light can cost $250,000, and you can't afford that,” he said. “I mean, that just says you can't develop.”