Amber Williams is sometimes teasingly called the Princess of NEFBA — a group she’s grown up with since entering the building industry at 21.
Hardworking and poised, the crown does seem to fit the Lennar Homes Sales and Marketing manager.
There’s also a less guarded side to Williams, one where she laughs easily and shares an occasional tear.
While talking about her charity work with homeless teens, Williams had to stop a minute to wipe her eyes. She called it a fault in her personality to be emotional during an interview. But what she betrayed really, was that behind the smile lays a heartfelt concern for the people she serves.
Williams has become a force in Northeast Florida real estate at an early age. Only 34, she’s sold homes for three of the region’s largest builders, D.R. Horton, Standard Pacific Homes and Lennar; led NEFBA’s Laurel Awards committee three times; and served as chairwoman of its Sales and Marketing Council. She’s received NEFBA’s Laurel Award for Marketing Director of the Year and twice won the same honor at the state level, most recently this summer.
The daughter of a lieutenant colonel, Williams said her success comes from her competitive drive. She often comes to work before dawn and leaves after dark.
Williams is responsible for managing Lennar’s brand in Northeast Florida. If you see a Lennar logo or hear the Lennar name, it’s because Williams put it there.
“I am a true nerd — I believe 100 percent in what we do,” Williams said. “We sell the American dream to people.”
A dream that includes “pillow fights and movie nights,” like she promises in her radio ads. Corny, she admitted, but she believes a home is a place where memories are created.
Williams grew up in Penney Farms, a small Clay County town with a population of about 750. In those days she was a little shyer. A teacher’s aide, a cheerleader, a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and she admitted, a “good girl” who didn’t know what detention was.
Her father was in charge of recruiting and retention for the Florida National Guard. A larger-than-life figure, intimidating to any boy who came up the driveway wanting to see her, he was both a protector and mentor to Williams.
It was her father who taught her that success comes from giving your best. Whenever Williams felt overwhelmed, by an upcoming presentation, for example, she’d say the right thing to make him launch into a speech he loved to give: Nobody out there has any idea of what you’re going to say. So, whatever you say is going to be the right thing. Just go with it. Throw away your notes and tell them what you know.
In college, Williams studied business, specializing in marketing. Her first job was at a Clay County newspaper, where she managed advertiser accounts, ad design and placement, and subscriptions. A job opening led her to D.R. Horton, the region’s largest builder.
“I just told them I was going to be the best they ever had. And then I hoped that I was,” Williams said.
She started as a receptionist, but kept putting her advertising portfolio in front of the manager. Soon, she was a marketing coordinator.
Among her industry peers, Williams is known for her creative and memorable events, designed to build relationships between Realtors and her company.
For one promotion, Williams gave agents who sold a Lennar Home during a three-month period a $500 shopping spree at Tiffany. It isn’t just a gift card. Lennar shut down the store and holds a private party, with a red carpet, valet parking, hors d’oeuvres and champagne. Realtors dress for cocktail hour, get their picture taken at a paparazzi station, and sip champagne as they walk around shopping.
Outside of work, Williams pursues her interests with equal dedication. She volunteers for Builders Care, the Boselli Foundation, J.P Hall Children’s Charities and the Daniel Foundation.
The charity work isn’t just for times when she’s wearing the Lennar logo. Williams has volunteered — especially for children’s causes — ever since she was a teenager.
She most recently pitched in to help Realtors rehab apartments for homeless teens at Daniel. Afterward, Williams befriended a girl who was excited about the renovation. Two weeks earlier, the girl had been sleeping under a highway overpass.
“It breaks my heart. I can’t imagine what their day-to-day is like,” Williams said.
Asked whether she finds any similarities between her life and theirs, Williams shook her head, no, unable to speak. She pulled a tissue from her drawer. It was her third.
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