Builders' Consultant Looks to the Future

Ken Agid, a co-partner in The Marketing Department, a small Irvine housing consulting firm, is nationally known as a futurist, always looking into his crystal ball for long-range trends in housing and urban living.

He is an often-quoted Orange County market analyst and a collector of the Pacific Coast Builders Conference's Gold Nugget awards for original design, having won about 50 of them.

Agid, 41, advises his builder clients not to be all things to all homebuyers--to plan homes and communities by studying the needs of specific groups of potential buyers. At builders' conferences and seminars around the country, he glibly talks about the sales potential of "empty nesters," "young marrieds" and "young singles."

Holder of an undergraduate degree in marketing and a master's degree in systems management from USC, Agid worked for Sanford R. Goodkin & Associates, a national real estate consultant, then in 1971 moved on to the Irvine Co., where he charted the mammoth Orange County land owner and developer's long-range strategic plans for carving residential communities out of the Irvine Ranch.

Agid spent six years at the Irvine Co., eventually becoming vice president of Irvine Pacific, the company's homebuilding subsidiary, and director of residential marketing. During that time, Agid recalls, he helped to pioneer the concept of "consumer market segmentation" and in the process developed more than 50 new housing designs to accommodate the life styles of homebuyers in particular age and income brackets.

One of Agid's most successful concepts appeared in Woodbridge Estates, groups of two and three condominiums designed to look like custom-built estates. The condos were designed to appeal to the "upwardly mobile family market," he said, and appealed to "people who never wanted to live in a condo."

Agid said that Ray Watson, when he was president of the Irvine Co., encouraged him to spread his ideas by lecturing at universities and acting as a consultant on "new towns" to the U.S. Department of Housing and Community Development.

Agid left the Irvine Co. in 1977 to become managing principal of Market Profiles, an Irvine real estate marketing consulting firm that has since moved to Costa Mesa. Two years later, he moved on to take a position as corporate senior vice president and partner in The Mayer Group, a defunct homebuilder in Downey.

Leaving The Mayer Group in 1981, Agid and former Mayer Group President Vic Cooper formed The Marketing Department. Agid said he had tired of working in "large bureaucracies," concluding that he preferred to "work with fewer clients on a more intimate basis."

Among his current projects, Agid said, are long-range development and marketing plans for Coto de Caza, a large south county joint venture of the Arvida Corp. and Chevron Land Co., and Santa Marguerita, a community of 15,000 homes to be built adjacent to Mission Viejo by the Rancho Mission Viejo Co. Agid said he also is a partner in 10 other housing projects that will be built during the next five years in various parts of California.

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