2019 BLSJ President Hans Lampart's remarks at the Installation Dinner and Holiday Party
Remarks of Hans Lampart, Eastern Pacific Development/Brookfield Construction after being sworn in as the Builders League of South Jersey’s 2019 President at the Installation of Officers and Holiday Dinner December 123th at the Atlantic City Country Club.
Welcome everyone and thank you for coming here tonight. It is an honor to represent you and each of our shared interests in improving the quality of life for residents here in New Jersey and in helping all members develop stronger business connections for tomorrow.
Before I go further, I’d like to acknowledge and thank a few people.
When a typical person thinks about the home building industry, typically they see broken ground, bulldozers and houses. They don’t normally think jobs, manufacturing, ripple-effect jobs, or local businesses that are sustained because new residents moved into town.
Homebuilders recognizes the importance of each and every member on the team, from the lawyers, architects, engineers, consultants that help us through the approval process, right down to the cleaning crew and American flag salesperson, who helps us open the doors.
It’s a road that’s not easily seen by those who are not on it.
My path here today took many twists and turns. For those who don’t know me well, I’d like to share a bit of my background and how it relates to what I just said.
I grew up on a dairy farm in upstate New York
After high school I headed west to California where was first job was as a laborer on a housing project in the Pacific Palisades.
I swept out units during the day. At night I took Plan Reading and Estimating at UCLA. The builder I worked for did his own framing in-house, so eventually I starting doing work with the framing crew.
By the end of that job I was left as an assistant superintendent and also worked with the buyers on call backs within the detail crew.
Those early days taught me how laborers see the process from the ground up, the messy dusty stuff. No one crew builds the entire home. Not content to sit still, those years taught me how to push forward into new responsibilities and skills. I was always eager to learn more about the entire process of home building. Call backs are always awful, for example, but you learn to keep watch for how easily mistakes are made, how important it is to be diligent in your process so they don’t happen again.
After a few jobs as a freelance superintendent I became an in-house general contractor for a small developer. In 1980, I obtained my California Contractors license.
When interest rates peaked in the early eighties the developer I worked for went out of business. My first solo project was a 24-unit townhouse project in Simi Valley. The project was on a street named Alamo Street, so I named my company Alamo Homes.
This is noteworthy. As my creative streak has continued through to today, I now live on Brookfield Street, hence the name for my company Brookfield Construction.
Between 1982 and 1991 I had completed around 400 units. In 1989 I made the L.A. Times list of 100 Top Builders at 99 with $6,000,000 in sales (look up No. 1).
In California, builders usually build a project all at once. If you have 60 units in a development, you build 60 units. This is great when the market is robust, but not so much when it slows down.
The Iraq War started in 1991 and brought about another huge slowdown and ended a great eight-year run for builders.
While the Northridge earthquake in 1994 was a horrific natural disaster that caused 57 deaths and more than 50 billion in property damage, it DID launched a rebirth of construction in southern California. I started working as a public adjuster and retail general contractor, a role that carried me through the 1980s.
In late 1998 the developer I had worked with in the 1970s was developing affordable housing. He had received funding for a project in Bridgeton, New Jersey and asked me to run the construction division. This is how - by divine providence - I ended up here on the East Coast.
It was also how I met my lovely fiancé Lori Fiocchi.
In addition to two projects in New Jersey we also built two projects in Florida, one in Tennessee and one in Maryland.
I decided to venture out on my own again in 2004 with a project in Salem.
When I was building in California I was an active member of the Los Angeles chapter of the Business & Industry Association (B.I.A.). Within the B.I.A. there was a subchapter called the Residential Purchasing Council that contained purchasing agents throughout the southern California area.
The Residential Purchasing Council met on a bi-monthly basis and meetings were generally held at manufacturers and/or suppliers locations throughout southern California.
All these past experiences from various jobs within a construction site - from a sweeping laborer, estimator, framers, call-back crew, superintendent, sales manager, general contractor, and developer - have help me become a builder so that I can build homes for families. I’ve been fortunate to keep moving forward in this industry, but, as each of you knows, it’s never easy. Your goal is always to give people a place to call home while doing business with the greater community. I alone, however, don’t put that roof over someone’s head. There are hundreds of people who who make that happen, from my team to all the contractors, consultants, manufacturers, suppliers and state and local officials we work with to get the job done.
The professional networking with other businesses that we MAY work with on our next jobs was critical to my own personal growth within this industry.
It was important for me to understand how windows are made, where the flooring comes from, why certain plants were chosen for landscaping plans, how kitchen appliances or utilities vary, how the use space can be improved within a home, and how we can build homes that are affordable to people of all income levels.
Thinking about today, I was reminiscent about these experiences. How can we help the homebuilding industry in southern New Jersey remain strong and grow into the future.
My goals and objectives this year are essentially trying to find ways and means for Associate Members to become more active and Builder members to reach out to and participate in new events to maintain interest and participation with Associates.
To that end I would like to undertake an initiative of plant tours of local manufacturers and suppliers this year. We launched this campaign with a plant tour of Mannington Mills in Salem a few months ago. It was well received. We got a tremendous amount of feedback and members are looking forward to the next event.
Our next tour is scheduled at North East Precast & Superior Walls in April. I am hoping to schedule tours with Pro-Build and Owens Corning.
Lastly, I’d like to follow up on an effort begun by the NJBA President Tom Troy, by continuing our outreach to local trade and tech schools to help foster continued interested in our industry.
I want to thank you all for your confidence in me to lead the association and create opportunities that will help us improve the housing industry and our professional relationships with each other for tomorrow.
- Congressman-elect Jeff VanDrew of the 2nd Congressional District.
- Vineland Mayor Anthony Fanucci
- CEO Group members
- My friends who have encouraged throughout my career and in my decision to become more involved in the industry
- the BLSJ Executive Committee and Board of Directors
- and most importantly …..
- My fiancé Lori Fiocchi