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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah business giant Larry H. Miller Group is kicking off 2022 in much the same way the homegrown multichannel operation rolled through 2021, by announcing a new deal amid an ongoing strategy to retool its operations.
On Tuesday, the group's Larry H. Miller Real Estate portfolio company announced plans to acquire Utah residential construction company Destination Homes. The business was co-founded by Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson and has been a longtime partner of the Miller Group's real estate operation.
LHM Group CEO Steve Starks said the deal dovetails seamlessly with another 2021 acquisition, the group's purchase of the master-planned Daybreak community in South Jordan.
"With the 2021 acquisition of the Daybreak master-planned community, plus other land holdings, acquiring a home building company allows us to further vertically integrate Larry H. Miller Real Estate," Starks said in a statement. "Destination Homes is a highly respected builder with a strong culture and we couldn't be more excited to welcome their great team to the Larry H. Miller family."
Wilson said the deal creates an opportunity for Destination Homes to not only see continued growth but also continue the vision he had for the company he founded with partner David Bailey over two decades ago.
"David and I built this business over the last 20 years to become one of the most respected home builders in the region," Wilson said in a statement. "As we evaluated the company's future, our primary goal was ensuring our mission continues. Given our long-standing relationship with LHMRE and the opportunity to combine organizations with similar values, both parties explored the potential transaction."
"We believe that this exciting next step will provide longevity for Destination Homes and create an opportunity for it to grow beyond its current potential," he said. "This acquisition by LHMRE will provide continued stability for our talented employees and the ability for Destination Homes to perform at a larger scale for the people of Utah and our region."
Wilson said breaking the news of the sale to his Destination Homes employees on Tuesday afternoon was one of the hardest things he's done as an owner, but he was bolstered by the knowledge that the Miller Group was not only going to retain every current staffer but also continue to hold to the high standards he and Bailey worked to create for both their product and their work environments.
"As I think about what we just shared with our team and what's happening, I'm just really grateful that we found a buyer that values what we've done and the team of people we've done it with," Wilson said.
Starks said the last 13 months have been unprecedented for the Miller Group as the company has been involved in over $5 billion in transactions and included positions as both buyer and seller. Those deals have included the sale of the Larry H. Miller auto dealerships, a portfolio of over 70 auto centers across the West that were all owned for over four decades by the household name; the sale of the Utah Jazz to Qualtrics CEO Ryan Smith; the acquisition of Advanced Health Care Corp.; and the purchase of Daybreak.
Starks noted real estate has always been an aspect of the Miller companies, even going back to founder Larry Miller's pursuit of owning the land for his automotive dealerships in the early days of the company. Now, the Destination Homes acquisition alongside the work to be done at Daybreak, along with other current and future development projects, gives the company a critical, integrated business operation as it moves forward.
Destination Homes will retain its name and continue projects already underway in other Utah communities as the Miller Group assumes ownership responsibilities.
"Customers can continue to expect the same high-quality craftsmanship and service from Destination Homes, which will retain its name," said Scott Lalli, president of Destination Homes, in a statement. "In the last 15 years, we have completed over 2,000 homes. Destination Homes currently has projects in Daybreak, where we were one of the original homebuilders, as well as Hill Farms, Windmill Estates, Towns on Main, and Wilcox Farms in Davis County, and Beacon Pointe in Utah County."
And, Starks said the Miller Group is invested in taking a smart growth approach to how it continues development at Daybreak and its other projects.
"We really see that as a generational opportunity to collectively plan for that growth in an intelligent manner," Starks told the Deseret News in a September story about the Daybreak acquisition. "Really, we're doing that because we love Utah. We feel a sense of stewardship to ensure that it remains the best place to raise a family, build a career, run a business and recreate.
"Our organization and the Miller family has always been invested in this state and wanting to enrich the community, and we believe we're uniquely situated to bring together people and plan for that and ensure it's done in an intelligent way that's environmentally friendly and sustainable — all the things that Daybreak has created," Starks said.
Other Miller Group companies include the Larry H. Miller Management Corporation; Prestige Financial; Megaplex Theatres; Triple A baseball team Salt Lake Bees; a minority interest NBA G league team Salt Lake City Stars; and a minority interest in the Utah Jazz.