The South Florida Business Journal profiled longtime GL Homes Chief Operating Officer Marcie DePlaza who discusses how sports prepared her for business.
By Brian Bandell – Real Estate Editor, South Florida Business Journal
Jul 5, 2023
Birthplace: Bay Shore, New York
Residence: Boca Raton
Current position: COO, GL Homes
Previous positions: Project manager, VP of marketing and division president, GL Homes
Education: Bachelor’s degree, Boston College
When Marcie DePlaza joined GL Homes 32 years ago, it was a local builder with 30 employees. But now it’s among the largest homebuilders in Florida.
The company has 575 employees across the state, including 150 at its corporate offices in Sunrise. As COO, DePlaza oversees development and sales on its nine communities, with about 1,500 homes under construction.
DePlaza is constantly on the move around the state. And when she’s not on the job, she’s also on the move – either hiking or biking.
What was your first job? I was a waitress at Friendly’s ice cream. I was 15 and living on Long Island. It is hard work, but I enjoyed it and it taught me to not be afraid to speak to people, to have confidence, and to work hard because waitressing is not easy.
How did playing sports growing up help build your character? To be good in sports, you have to have a tremendous work ethic. You have to learn to work with teammates. In any sport, leadership was important on and off the field. Those kinds of things really helped me in the business world because I had to work with other people with different personalities, and we had to work as a team. I started in middle school and high school playing soccer, softball and gymnastics. Then I played field hockey on Long Island, which was a pretty big sport. I was lucky enough to get a scholarship in field hockey at Boston College.
Why did you move to South Florida? My parents had moved here, and I lived in New York and worked in New York City. I came down to visit them the first year they were here. And I went to the recreation center and I couldn’t get over the lifestyle, the pool and the fitness center. I figured: Let me just give it a shot. I also missed them a lot, too.
How did you join GL Homes? I heard they might be looking for people, so I cold-called [GL Homes founder] Itchko [Ezratti] and I was lucky enough to get an interview.
As the company grows, how do you juggle so many communities at once? We have great people in the field, and the way we are structured is very decentralized, so we have great managers managing each of the communities. We have a project manager and construction manager on-site. We always believe the answers are in the field, so I try to get out to the field a couple days a week to visit the projects. We have a lot going on in Naples and Palm Beach. Those are the two markets we spend a lot of time in.
How did GL Homes deal with supply chain and labor challenges during the pandemic? We met daily on this issue. There were some instances where we went to great lengths to get the supplies we needed. We couldn’t get appliances, so we created our own appliance warehouse to have appliances on hand when homes were completed. We had some delays, but in the end we got through it and we did the very best to make our customers happy. But, like most industries, it wasn’t easy.
How has the spike in interest rates impacted your business? We haven’t really seen a big impact from it, fortunately. The demand in Florida and the low inventory works in our favor. We haven’t seen much of a slowdown. People are definitely talking about it, but it isn’t impacting our sales or closings right now.
As South Florida runs low on land for single-family homes in the coming decade, will GL Homes change its strategy? I don’t think at this point we will. There are still good land positions throughout the state we are looking at, so I think we will stay in Florida for awhile. We are looking at new land positions in the Naples area, Fort Myers and Tampa. We have our commercial division, and that could always be expanded. In Palm Beach County and Broward, [new land] is pretty much dried up. We are in Port St. Lucie, and we have a good future there. We have a good inventory of lots to keep us busy for awhile.
What is your favorite activity while on vacation? Anything to do with fitness, biking, hiking, kayaking and skiing. There is a company called Backroads that we do bike trips with. We did 11 bike trips with them in places like Spain, Italy, Canada and Hawaii. You get to see the greatest parts of the country you are in, and you get to do it outside on a bike and get to meet people and learn about the culture. It’s a great way to see the world.