Meet Bruce Karatz
Former Chairman and CEO
Bruce Karatz retired as chairman and chief executive officer of KB Home in 2006. During his tenure with KB Home beginning in 1972, he transformed the company and the industry with his revolutionizing KBnxt concept of building homes only after they have been sold, abandoning the traditional, yet vulnerable, model of building inventory first and selling second. As a result, KB Home delivered 37,140 homes in 2005 compared to less than 4,000 when he became CEO in 1986, and less than 7,000 when he was named Chairman in 1993.
From 2000 to 2006, Karatz took the company into 40 of the U.S. major markets. During the same span, KB Home went from building in just three states to 16, through organic expansion or strategic acquisitions in the most robust areas.
In addition to his entrepreneurial success leading one of America’s leading public homebuilders, he has played an integral role in re-shaping urban cities during times of crisis. Following the L.A. Riots in 1993, Karatz led the rebuilding efforts of Camp Hollywoodland, an after school camp for inner city girls, after its facilities were destroyed by arsonists. This effort was completed by a companywide effort and with private funds, costing the city and/or taxpayers no money.
In 2000, Karatz led KB Home in an initiative to revitalize urban areas through the creation of American CityVista, a partnership with former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros to develop residential communities in the nation’s major metropolitan areas. That year, Karatz was also named Builder of the Year by the Southern California Builders Association.
Following Hurricane Katrina, Karatz saw a need to help New Orleans with its housing needs and became the first national builder to commit investments and personnel to build affordable market rate homes in that ravaged city.
Karatz is known for his marketing and promotional prowess, from partnering with Martha Stewart to build homes inspired by Martha’s own homes, to building a new two-story home in less than a week for a deserving family for ABC’s hit television show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Bruce also participated in CNN’s business show The Turnaround, where he served as a mentor to Ben Morey of Morey Construction.
Other successful efforts include the construction of a 3,000-square-foot model home in midtown Manhattan and a model home on top of the 11-story Au Printemps department store in Paris. His idea to build a life-sized replicea of The Simpson’s cartoon house in Las Vegas earned him the praise of pulling off “the most successful promotion in the homebuilding industry,” according to Builder magazine.
In 2005 he was named “Best Chairman” by the American Business Awards as well as Ernst & Young’s Master Entrepreneur of the Year for greater Los Angeles. In 2004 he was ranked the top homebuilding executive on Builder Magazine’s list of the most influential people in homebuilding, coming in sixth behind Alan Greenspan, President George W. Bush, and Andres Duany. The 1992 inductee into the California Building Industry Hall of Fame has often been recognized for his deep commitment to his business and civic communities. Karatz received one of his greatest honors when the President of the French Republic named him Chevalier of the Legion of Honor in 1999. In 2003 he was awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor by the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations Foundation, Inc. He was past Chairman of the California Business Roundtable, the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees for RAND Corporation, and President of Wilshire Boulevard Temple. He was a member of the USC Board of Trustees, Chairman of the Board of Councilors of USC Gould School of Law and serves on the Board of Directors for the California Commission for Jobs and Economic Growth, a Director at KCET, a Director at D.A.R.E America, and a Director at Children’s Institute International, to name a few.
Karatz also sat on a number of corporate Boards, including, Edison International, Honeywell International, Avery Dennison Corporation, The Kroger Co., National Golf Properties, Fred Meyer, Inc., Smith’s Food & Drug Centers, Inc., MacFrugal’s Bargains – Close-Outs, Inc., and Falcon Cable Systems Company.
Karatz, as a result of the mortgage crisis, founded Keep Your Home Foundation (KYH), a non-profit organization who’s main purpose is to assist homeowners remain in their home in the face of difficult economic realities. KYH believes there are hundreds of thousands of homeowners in Southern California who would benefit from KYH assistance thru its information and resources targeting those in need. KYH’s ultimate objective is to find a way to allow families to stay in their home, who would otherwise be forced to vacate because of foreclosure.
A graduate of The Blake School in Minneapolis and Boston University, Karatz earned his law degree from the University of Southern California. He is married to Lilly Tartikoff. From a previous marriage, he also has three children, Elizabeth Faraut, Matthew, and Teddy, and four grandchildren, Juliette, Thomas, Clara and Levi.