It was 1988, and the local trade group for residential contractors broached the idea of honoring those new-homebuilders who excelled at championing the industry.

Before long, the Charleston Home Builders Association’s Sales & Marketing Council had birthed a program, the yearly Prism Awards.

The trophies would recognize top-notch efforts “in the field of sales, marketing and promotion of new homes,” according to the association.

No doubt, these were “visionary” awards. Yet no one could foresee what would happen the very next year. Hurricane Hugo struck the South Carolina coast in fall 1989, battering a huge number of homes across greater Charleston and leaving thousands of people at least temporarily homeless.

While taking a beating at first, the housing industry would rally to frame thousands of new residences, many in place of storm-damaged ones.

Moving forward, metro Charleston’s residential workforce continued to show resiliency.

The housing industry would struggle in the aftermath of the Charleston Naval Base and Shipyard closings in the mid-1990s, the 9-11 terrorist attacks 12 years ago and the housing market plunge beginning in 2007-08. Yet every time, the business would bounce back.

Throughout, the Prism Awards annually praised home builders for their marketing skills while branching out “to encompass the growing market segments of the housing industry, including green building, remodeling, development and the associate member sector,” the association says.

The Prism Awards’ 25th year will be noted, but there’s no special celebration to mark the anniversary, says Phillip Ford, executive vice president. The program’s formula – to reward close to 40 builders, agents, companies and suppliers with plaques, handshakes and hearty applause – works well, he says.

“It’s been great,” he says. This year’s Nov. 8 show at the American Theater on King Street filled its 166 seats.

“We tweak it a little bit. The last change was adding customer service” as an awards category, Ford says. Past awards ceremonies headlined speakers and guests and included special presentations. “It depends on the year,” he says.

The Prism Awards’ popularity tends to mirror the ups and downs of the local home-building business. Smaller crowds took part in shows during the housing crisis, while totals picked up the past couple of years.

At the same time, a record 400 guests attended the awards presentation the year before the market dropped. During those days, the Prism Awards took place at Trident Technical College’s main campus events’ facility.

“We decided a few years ago to put it in downtown Charleston,” Ford says. American Theater, he says, stands as “a great facility, a great location.” Being downtown, “People like to go out after.”

Association members have held “internal discussions” about finding a new location, Ford says, noting that the only drawback with the current locale would be its limited capacity. “It’s hard to leave that location. The history is there; the décor is cool,” he says.

“We want to keep it somewhere vibrant,” he says, noting any move likely would be elsewhere downtown.

“It’s a fun event, all about having a good time,” Ford says.

The Prism Awards showcase companies and professionals in the homebuilding industry for such expertise as best TV commercial, website design, newspaper ad, magazine ad, brochure, direct mail and advertising campaign; best model home and retail showroom; best pool-outdoor space projects; best remodeling projects in price categories from $150,000 to more than $500,000; and best single family homes in categories from $150,000 to $5 million.

Another honor, the Million Dollar Circle, recognizes the top 34 real estate agents by sales.

For 2013, Lennar and Phillip W. Smith General Contractor Inc. tied for the lead in general categories with four awards apiece; and Carolina One New Homes (in two cases with Mungo Homes) placed first in the Million Dollar Circle with seven agents.

Overall winners consisted of Priester’s Custom Contracting LLC and Saltwater Homes for Excellence in Customer Service, Lori Brant of Carolina One New Homes as 2013 Salesperson of the Year, Jason Byham with Lennar as Sales Manager of the Year, Jennifer Pencarinha of Ryland Homes as Marketing Manager of the Year and Kaz Ansari of J. Meyer Homes/Carolina Elite Real Estate as Mr. Congeniality.

Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or jparker@postandcourier.com.

2013 PRISM AWARD WINNERS

•Best Brochure for a Community: FrontDoor Communities — Tributary Brochure

•Best Use of Technology, Builder Website Design: Hunter Quinn Homes, LLC — www.hunterquinnhomes.com

•Best Use of Technology, Community Website Design: FrontDoor Communities — www.TributarySC.com

•Best Use of Technology, Social Media: Pulte Homes

•Best Overall Use of Technology: Lennar — myLennar iPad App

•Best Direct Mail Piece: David Weekley Homes — Carolina Park Direct Mail Program

•Best Newspaper Ad: Lennar — Everything’s Included

•Best Magazine Ad: David Weekley Homes — Discover the Benefits of a New Home

•Best Radio Commercial: Lennar — Chocolate Tour

•Best TV Commercial: Mungo Homes — Mungo Homes, America’s Best Builder

•Best Advertising Campaign: Del Webb — Del Webb - Explore Del Webb

BEST IN SALES SPACE

•Best Sales & Information Center: Pulte Homes — The Home Gallery at Scotts Creek

•Best Model Home: Pulte Homes — The Avalon Model at Scotts Creek

•Best Retail Showroom-Builder: Ryland Homes — Ryland Homes MyStyle Design Center

•Best Retail Showroom-Associate:Carolina Lanterns and Lighting — Lighting Lab

BEST PRODUCT

•Remodeling Project, $150,000 and Under: Priester’s Custom Contracting LLC — The Beldner Remodel

•Remodeling Project, $150,000 to $300,000: Southeastern Custom Homes — 7028 Schooner Street

•Remodeling Project, $300,000 to $500,000: Phillip W. Smith General Contractor Inc. — Anderson Residence

•Remodeling Project, $500,000 and Over: Canton Construction Company Inc. — 323 Palm Warbler Renovation

•Best Product Pool/Outdoor Living Spaces: Aqua Blue Pools — Sullivan’s Island Residence

•Best New Community, New Leaf Builders — Fox Hollow “A Low Impact Development and Certified Wildlife Habitat”

•Best Product Single Family Homes, $150,000 to $200,000: Brock Built Homes — The Palmetto

•Best Product Single Family Homes, $200,000 to $300,000: Lennar — The Daniel

•Best Product Single Family Homes, $300,000 to $400,000: Saltwater Homes — Taylor Residence

•Best Product Single Family Homes, $400,000 to $500,000: Saltwater Homes — Rhodes Residence

•Best Product Single Family Homes, $500,000 to $700,000: Priester’s Custom Contracting LLC — The Payne Residence

•Best Product Single Family Homes, $700,000 to $1,000,000: Crosby Creations Drafting & Design Svcs LLC — Pye Residence

•Best Product Single Family Homes, $700,000 to $1,000,000: JacksonBuilt Custom Homes — Smythe Street

•Best Product Single Family Homes, $1,000,000 to $1,500,000: Structures Building Company — Turner Residence

•Best Product Single Family Homes, $1,500,000 to $2,000,000: Phillip W. Smith General Contractor Inc. — Allston-Swinnerton Residence

•Best Product Single Family Homes, $3,000,000 to $4,000,000: Phillip W. Smith General Contractor Inc. — Smith Residence

•Best Product Single Family Homes: $4,000,000 to $5,000,000: Phillip W. Smith General Contractor,Inc. — White Residence

EXCELLENCE IN CUSTOMER SERVICE

•Priester’s Custom Contracting LLC

•Saltwater Homes

2013 MILLION DOLLAR CIRCLE

•Lennar, Christy Borriello

•David Weekley Homes, Demetrial Coleman

•Dan Ryan Builders, Linda Morse

•Lennar, Randy Floyd

•Lennar, Suzanne Ledford

•AgentOwned Realty, Lane Baker

•Centex Homes, Claire Finley

•J. Meyer Homes/Carolina Elite Real Estate, Kaz Ansari

•David Weekley Homes, Kelly Gillette

•Centex Homes, Sandy Hall

•David Weekley Homes, Lori Schultz

•Dan Ryan Builders, Jenny Sain

•Pulte Homes, Darrell Connelly

•Lennar, Laura Curley

•Lennar, Pamela Woods

•Pulte Homes, Marta Perez

•Lennar, Walker Gregory

•Centex Homes, Allison Conn

•Carolina One New Homes, Chris Eller

•Carolina One New Homes, Jason Ray

•Del Webb, Britt Freeman

•Pulte Homes, Gini Rice

•Centex Homes, Gina Garrard

•Centex Homes, Paul Coloneri

•Mungo Homes/Carolina One New Homes, Lori Brant

•Carolina One New Homes, Shane Ford

•Pulte Homes, Guy Ackerman

•Carolina One New Homes, Julia Cunningham

•Del Webb, Yvette Grist

•Carolina One New Homes, Richard Harris

•Centex Homes, Carroll Loewer

•Pulte Homes, Dana Thompson

•David Weekley Homes, Charlene Johnson

•Mungo Homes/Carolina One New Homes, Neil Shepard

•2013 Salesperson of the Year: Lori Brant — Carolina One New Homes

•2013 Sales Manager of the Year: Jason Byham — Lennar

•2013 Marketing Manager of the Year: Jennifer Pencarinha — Ryland Homes

•2013 Mr. Congeniality: Kaz Ansari — J. Meyer Homes/ Carolina Elite Real Estate