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p01 droneA screen grab from a drone video of a residence built by Spencer Homes in the 200 block of Fountain Drive in Glen Carbon.By DENNIS GRUBAUGH
    MARYVILLE — The Home Builders Association of Greater Southwest Illinois is taking video of its builder projects to a whole new level.
    Sky high, in fact.
    HBA is preparing to launch Home Envy, a program in which member projects are being filmed via a drone to capture not only the residence but the surroundings as well.
    The unique approach will help market what the builders are doing, Tracy Butler, executive officer of HBA, said.
    So far, existing homes, already built, have been the subject of shoots. The presentation is more a feature on the builders and their styles with the potential of building up their individual businesses.
    “I know these builders pretty well, because of what I do. I wish other people could get to know them the same way. I think consumers would enjoy that,” Butler said. “They all have unique styles and great products.”
    She hopes to formally launch the program in September.
    The idea came about, ironically, because home sales have gone so well in recent years. Inventory has been in such short supply that HBA was looking for a way to supplement its annual Homes on Parade marketing event. Homes on Parade was a collective open house, usually done in June and featuring new homes in Metro East.  Continuing the event depends on available inventory.

    “People love going into the homes, and we want to keep that tradition going, but it’s kind of hard with the new technology and people’s busy lives and the way homes are moving right now. I don’t know if we’re going to get back to that because these guys (home builders) are swamped.”
    That left her seeking a new promotion to keep the home ball rolling – one that wasn’t going to be too time- consuming for them.
    “I came up with the idea to do virtual tours, like the 3D tours that are available now, but I wanted to take it to a new level. No pun intended,” she said.
    The drone approach resulted, and she says the videos are “extremely eye-catching.” In one example completed, the drone takes video for blocks and sweeps down to a specific home with the door opening for a walk-in view, going room to room. It’s all mindful of a big-scale production, with titles on the video, background music and other frills.
    Several members have already shown interest.
    “We have 13 builders confirmed, and my goal is to get 20 builders. We’ve started some of the videos already. Scheduling is taking place between myself, the drone company and the builders,” she said.
    Filming takes about 90 minutes, and is being done by C4Aerial Solutions, of Imperial, Mo.
    “He did a demo video for the board to work with, in less than 12 hours,” Butler said of the cameraman. “He shot the footage, edited it, put in some graphics and had it back for my board meeting.”
    Builders, she pointed out, work not just with customers, but with various tradesmen. One goal is to give “shout-outs” to the crafts involved in components from bathrooms to roofs.
    “There are certain features when I walk into their homes I know it is such-and-such builder. Those are the things I want to spotlight,” she said. “When we presented Home Envy to the board, they loved it. The builders are really excited to be a part of this.”
    Once a video is done, the builder will own it and be able to share or promote it as they see fit. Videos will promote the uniqueness of each builder, locations where his company builds and other strengths.
    A production company, Silverback Video of Maryland Heights, Mo., has been enlisted to take the drone footage and convert it to a two-minute video that will be promoted via social media and advertising.
    The cost per video is paid by the builder per home/location.  Supplier and industry service companies can be featured in the video with builder approval for a cost.  The Southwest Illinois Housing Advancement Fund has confirmed its support of the HBA Home Envy campaign as a production partner. There is also an opportunity for member companies to have their logo featured before each video and in the marketing campaign as video sponsors.
    HBA’s territory includes 16 counties, with Madison, St. Clair and Monroe being the main three counties of activity.
    Mike Rathgeb, of Spencer Homes, is chairman of the HBA marketing committee and a strong proponent of the new drone filming concept.
    “Video productions are the fastest-growing trend in online marketing today. It was a natural next step in HBA consumer communication and provides HBA builder members examples of work one click away for new home buyers,” Rathgeb said.

IBJ Business News

Walmart opens market in Collinsville

    COLLINSVILLE — A Walmart Neighborhood Market has opened at 1101 Belt Line Road near Keebler Crossing
    The new store, which will employ about 125 full- or part-time associates, features Online Grocery Pickup, a fueling station and a drive-through pharmacy.
    The convenience of a smaller format is intended to compliment the community’s existing Walmart Supercenter.
    The 46,000-square-foot Neighborhood Market offers a wide variety of fresh produce and organic selections; a full-service deli and in-store bakery with fresh breads and more; Grab-and-Go prepared meals; and a full grocery department with name-brand products at affordable prices.
    The store is a new prototype Neighborhood Market that only exists in a limited number of communities, featuring wider aisles, lower counter tops in the deli and bakery for easy ordering, and made-to-order pizza. Customers can pick out their pizza toppings and shop while their pizza cooks, or take it home and cook in their own oven.
    “This is a new format for this part of the St. Louis metro, one whose smaller footprint focuses on fresh produce and allows customers to get in and out quickly,” said Store Manager Shane Jordan. “Walmart continually invests in new ways to save its customers time and money – and this store is a great example.”
    Applicants interested in careers at Walmart can apply at a store’s hiring kiosk or online at Walmartcareers.com.