Kelly was committed to creating educational programs, both for his own employees and for the industry. He has been inducted into the Hall of Fame for both the Oregon Home Builders Association and the NAHB (in 2001). His impact on Portland can be seen in a recent poll by a local newspaper, which named him one of the 25 most influential people of the past 25 years.
Looking Ahead: The work of Neil Kelly, who died in 1995, continues through a scholarship established with the local Rotary Club. It provides college funds for low-income, at-risk children. Money is raised especially during a luncheon held on Portland’s annual Neil Kelly Day, the first Friday in May. “It’s become a very cool thing,” Tom says.
Norvin “Charlie” Knutson:
Company: Knutson Brothers, Milwaukee, Wis. Years in Industry: 1955 – 1996
Early Years: After studying business and architecture at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Knutson sold real estate. But he was fired, the story goes, for refusing to wear a tie. He and his brother, Orville, a union carpenter, formed the home building company Knutson Brothers in 1955. By the early 1970s, former clients began asking the company to update, change or add onto their original home.
“They found they couldn’t do both home building and remodeling because they really are two different businesses,” says daughter Cindy Knutson-Lycholat, who owns Knutson Brothers 2 in East Troy, Wis. with her husband, Gerry Lycholat. “But nobody really knew that then.” The brothers were committed to remodeling work in 1977.
Key Innovations: Both brothers became heavily involved in local, state and national industry events. Orville attended NARI events while Charlie participated in NAHB functions. In 1982, Charlie became the first chairman of the NAHB’s Remodelors Council and stressed the need for remodelers to meet key standards and offer warranties. As part of that, he wrote one of the association’s best-selling books, “Residential Construction Performance Guidelines.” He was inducted into the NAHB’s Hall of Fame in 2001.
“He became a true spokesman for the industry and talked it up when it didn’t really exist,” says Knutson-Lycholat. “He was forthright about sharing his knowledge with contractors and getting new ones into the business — and ensuring they stayed there.” As a business major, he understood margin, markup and job costs. “He knew what were hard costs and soft costs, and he ultimately understood that remodelers had to charge more than they were.”
Looking Ahead: “In addition to his work in educating contractors, part of his legacy is that I’m here, as a woman, running a remodeling company,” Knutson-Lycholat says. “When I would go with him to national meetings, there would be about four women in the room. He definitely helped change that perspective.”
Company: Jud Construction LLC, Muncie, Ind. Years in Industry: 1962 – present
Early Years: Motsenbocker’s interest in construction began when he was 8 years old, when a carpenter building a home nearby let him help. After taking industrial-arts classes in high school and serving as a carpenter in the Navy, he bought a lumberyard with a remodeling sideline in 1962. In 1968, he started his own remodeling company.
Key Innovations: An active participant in NAHB immediately after starting his company, Motsenbocker took every management course he could. “I knew I could remodel, but I sure as heck didn’t know how to run a business.” He credits his success to hiring an administrator to help set up the company two months before it opened. He soon became involved in local, state and national association programs and committees.
In 1980, the U.S. government asked NAHB to produce an eight-hour seminar on how to run a remodeling company, for presentation to the Shawnee Oklahoma Indian tribe. Motsenbocker created a program covering every aspect of the business: organization, advertising, lead generation, estimating, selling, production and reading P&L statements. Its success led NAHB to ask him to develop one- to two-hour programs along similar lines for all its members. That ultimately led him to help develop NAHB’s certification programs. In 2004, he helped develop a program to train the association’s trainers — which he then took as a student. “You’re never too old to learn,” he says. He was inducted into NAHB’s Hall of Fame in 2001.