On any given weekday morning, Jay McManus can be found making the rounds amongst his Houston team at M/I Homes. Sometimes he'll just stop to say hello, other times he will stay for a chat. This is because he cares. This holistic, human approach to management is part of what has made him one of the most likable and well-connected figures on the Houston homebuilding scene.

With over 25 years of experience in the industry, Jay's background in project management, as well as sales and marketing, makes him a unique industry shaker and mover. He understands how all components of his team need to work together to bring new homes to happy homeowners.

Jay’s family’s experiences during the summer of 2018 shed light on this leader's fascinating life, and what influences him to be so “human” in his management style.

We sat down with Jay to discuss this life-changing summer with the hopes to share some insight into both Jay’s influence in the industry and his own personal experience building an M/I Home.

M/I Homes: You grew up in the Houston area, which part of town?

Jay McManus: I grew up in Huffman on the Northeast side of town.

M/I: How did you get into development and homebuilding?

JM: I had done a summer job… actually two summer jobs where I worked with a builder on one, and helped a family I knew build an actual home.

M/I: Have you seen this industry change over your career?

JM: Absolutely. I’m really excited about technology in homes. I think there's a lot of upside with ease of home use that will probably even go into maintenance and that sort of thing.

M/I: Is that something you're currently incorporating at M/I Homes?

JM: We constantly look at new technologies and are weighing current costs per benefits. I think technology is rapidly catching up in our industry. You can look at Clare [controls] which M/I is currently building into our Houston homes.

M/I: You and your wife, Sandy, have been married how many years?

JM: Since December 19th, 1991, almost 28 years. We met in a geography lab class at Texas A&M.

M/I: And you have some beautiful kids, what are their names?

JM: Brooke, Allie, Jake, and Asher.

M/I: Speaking of Allie and Asher, your youngest daughter, Allie went on a mission trip to China in 2017—any interesting souvenirs or stories from that trip?

JM: Asher! She came home with a son for us to adopt.

M/I: Wow! What did that conversation entail?

JM: Well, Allie came home to advocate for adoption for Asher, she wasn’t demanding or asking that Sandy and I adopt. But, within about 2 weeks it turned into Sandy and I going through the process to adopt.

M/I: When did you know that adoption was the route for your family to take?

JM: Sandy knew almost immediately; it took me a couple weeks to process. A good kid needed a good home.

M/I: When did you find out that Asher was going to be able to come home?

JM: Normally that process takes 18 months; we were able to accomplish it in 11 months. So it took 11 months to get final approvals. We had a document rejected for a staple mark of all things.

M/I: What was your experience finally meeting Asher in China during July?

JM: Lot of excitement and joy plus anxiety mixed up—we had never been to China so we were navigating different agencies, etc. A lot of hope and happiness.

M/I: With any new addition to the family, there are always a lot of 'firsts.' What were some of those memorable firsts for Asher, especially considering that he was already 6 years old?

JM: A yes or a no—we taught him thumbs up or thumbs down, because he spoke no English. He grasped that concept quickly. And I think that his first English word outside of mom and dad was 'wow.' We say wow a lot in our family both with sincerity and sarcasm.

M/I: So that's not all that happened between May and July of 2018. You and your family are new M/I Homeowners! Can you tell us more about why you decided to build with M/I homes and how that process was?

JM: Pretty much cooking what you eat, right? Er, I mean eating what you cook. So, we built in a great neighborhood and school district we wanted to get into, in Tomball. Being a part of product design our [M/I’s] floorplans were more up to date, our selections were better, our space was better, and it wasn’t even a big decision to make. We were buying M/I.

M/I: How did it feel to be on the customer side with M/I Homes?

JM: Very eye-opening. We do these things really well and see areas for improvement. We made actual changes to the process from this experience.

M/I: And your daughter, Allie, she got married in June of 2018, correct?

JM: Yeah, she graduated from OU in May and got married in June. So we had some huge life events stacked up within 90 days of each other. It was the busiest year of our lives, ever.

M/I: People say weddings are stressful, even for the family, and I bet it was a lot with the move and pending adoption?

JM: Yeah, it was quite stressful, probably more on Sandy than on me. Sandy is good at organizing and planning. I'm weighing all the expenses—adoption is expensive, weddings are expensive, moving is expensive—so I tried to balance all that and make sure everyone was happy.

M/I: How do you personally handle stress?

JM: When it's big, I just look at breaking it down to next steps as accomplishments, instead of looking at the entire elephant.

M/I: Do you feel like you bring that same approach to your job at M/I?

JM: Yes.

M/I: What is one of your most memorable moments from your daughter's wedding?

JM: Through all the tears—because I was an emotional wreck—probably the part where I had to turn around and see her in her dress for the first time.

M/I: What's Allie doing now?

JM: She is a program director for Best Buddies international. We've always told them (our kids) to pursue what makes you happy—what you can see yourself doing and what you're passionate about. Don’t just chase money.

M/I: Do you feel like that's what you're doing at M/I Homes?

JM: Yes, I love building homes, putting people in homes, making dreams come true. For sure.

M/I: So how have these life experiences impacted you and your family?

JM: Adopting Asher was like a new baby in the family—your family is forever changed for the better. Doing all those in one year just always stretches your capacity to handle more: every time you get out of your comfort zone for big life events. You can tackle whatever you do next.

M/I: And finally back to your work 'family' at M/I Homes: what are you most proud of and what are you looking forward to in the future?

JM: I'm most proud of division growth. I've been here since April 2016 and we are really seeing the results of the hard years of work and decision making that is not always popular, but it’s the right move.

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We’re always looking for more ways to welcome our M/I homeowners to better here at M/I Homes. You can read more Happy Homeowner stories here!



Author

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Karen Schieb

Author

Karen Schieb has been with M/I Homes since its entry into the Houston market. As an Internet Sales Manager and a Houston native, Karen is an expert on new homes in the area and genuinely cares about finding the best homes for her clients. With a keen eye for detail, Karen also has excellent taste and a wide breadth of knowledge on all the latest home designs. When not helping M/I prospects find their dream homes or tackle their next DIY home project, Karen is either in LA visiting her daughter, Natalie, or can be found playing pool.