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Tracy Williams: Building Homes That Stand the Test of Time

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It’s not uncommon to find Tracy Williams lugging paint swatches, light fixtures and cabinet samples around in the back of her car. As the vice president of sales and marketing for FCB Homes, Tracy visits many of the developments she helps design and always asks the most important question: “Would I want this to be my home?”

Tracy Williams looks at each property she builds as if it were her own and her philosophy has always been that a house must feel like a home. “Would we be happy with that dishwasher? Does that product stand the test of time? Are those light switches in the right spot?” she said, thinking about all the details that go into design. A regular on new sites, Tracy drives through the FCB Homes communities and takes an active role to ensure quality meets longevity. While images of cabinet designs and architectural layouts regularly loom in her mind, she also imagines each house as a place where a family gathers for holidays, where kids do their homework, and the home becomes the cornerstone of where memories are created. “Everything we do is with the end customer in mind,” she affirmed proudly.

Tracy’s passion is not solely hers; FCB Homes shares this vision. “I would say that we are a marketing-driven company and not a production-driven company, meaning that we strive for the highest level of design.” This shared philosophy in homebuilding is the basis of what makes FCB one of the most sought-after local homebuilders, and Tracy has been proud to serve the company for the past 27 years.

Setting the Foundation
Ironically, Tracy’s start in the homebuilding world was not part of her initial plans, but rather an influence through her family. “I had gone to school to be an accountant,” she reminisced, thinking back to her start at the young age of 19. But her ability to sell and market seemed to be a family trait. Her mother and older sister were both involved in real estate; her mother, Evelyn Tatum, worked for Doctor and Doctor Realty, and her older sister, Rhonda Eagal, worked for a new home builder. Her father, Chuck Tatum, was a well-known businessman and general manager for a car dealership in the Stockton community. Tracy acquired a real estate license but never thought much about a full-time venture in selling.

But midway through her college classes, she returned home one summer break and was looking to make a little extra cash. Little did she realize that summer would prove to be life changing. Her sister, Rhonda, was working for Florsheim Homes and wanted Tracy to assist her at a new subdivision in Ripon. “I was happy to earn some money to pay for school, so I gladly signed up,” recalled Tracy. Applying their family traits in sales, she and Rhonda found a knack for marketing the homes. “Growing up with parents who were in sales, you learn a lot from them. First is how to engage with people and how to strike up conversation. My parents each had their strength. My dad was a great storyteller, and my mom was thoughtful and a great listener. I recall going out to dinner with my parents and they would work the room, if you will. They always seemed to know people and it would take 20 minutes to get to our table.” she recalled fondly.

Tracy and Rhonda applied that same sincere engagement of their parents to the Florsheim properties and, to their surprise, they were quite successful. “We ended up selling 60 homes in 45 days,” she remarked. Her success in sales gained the attention of the developers. “Bob Florsheim offered me a full-time position and allowed me the days off to commute to school,” Tracy said. She returned to school and changed her major from accounting to business with a concentration in marketing. From that point forward, she knew she would continue in sales and later began to learn more on-the-job skills in homebuilding, growing and learning everything from project management to home design.

Creating a Community
In her 27 years with FCB Homes, Tracy has had the pleasure of building in both San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties. She recognizes her years in homebuilding have been more than just marketing and sales, but creating neighborhoods that thrive and create longevity. “We are mindful about the product,” she stated. “Homes have a long life span. What we build is going to impact communities and the value of those communities. What will that home look like in 20 years? Will those features stand the test of time?” she noted. “We think about that in our designs and our products.”

Tracy knows their designs create value and community. Because of this, she sees to every project from start to finish to ensure that each development is left with a positive legacy for the town and its surroundings, even if sometimes the project must be reimagined. She recalled one project in which the landscape designs for the common areas, which are the parks and pathways surrounding the homes, didn’t fit to her standards, even after some of the work had been completed. “I saw some landscaping after six months. I didn’t like how it was maturing,” she said. For that project, Tracy and her design team went back to the plans and modified and restructured most of the original design. “We honestly do care how things mature and look years down the road.”

It’s because of this type of care and attention that Tracy seeks out the best designers. “We work with the best architects and designers in the country, many of whom are based in Orange County,” she said, acknowledging that most design trends originate from that region. “It is the Silicon Valley of architecture.” While she acknowledges outsourcing supports the design process, she is also mindful about her community. Since homebuilding has shifted over the years to large national builders, there’s beauty in what local builders offer. “We understand our customers because we live here.”

FCB Homes has been based in Stockton for 33 years and is one of only a few local builders remaining in the county. In addition, they contract and provide local jobs. Larger corporations bring in out-of-town contractors that are based elsewhere. As such, they are not always familiar with the unique character of the various towns in San Joaquin and Stanislaus communities. “It’s been a national builder game,” she says. Since FCB Homes is a local developer, many FCB employees are residents, familiar with what makes the community unique.

Looking to the Future
As more developments continue to expand in the Riverbank and Lodi areas, Tracy has no plans for retirement or slowing down. She and her husband, Roger, also enjoy renovating homes as a hobby, so she’s able to try out new styles of appliances and features on her personal properties before suggesting them in homebuilding. Tracy also loves seeing the younger faces in FCB Homes who are building their careers, and she tries to serve as a mentor. Reflecting on her own experiences, she hopes to make the path easier for those who come after her. “You see the full circle, because you’re on the other side now.” As she reflects on her career and the fruits of her hard work, she knows all of it was possible because of her own strong foundation. And like any home, a strong foundation is key.