Introducing the HBA Builder of the Year

By staff January 1, 2006

The Home Builders Association of Sarasota County has recognized John Olliver, of Precision Custom Homes, as Builder of the Year for an extreme makeover project he spearheaded in which a Habitat for Humanity home was constructed in a remarkable five days.

As head of Precision Custom Homes in Venice, John Olliver builds homes for a living throughout the year. But his commitment to helping others resulted in this special award, which Olliver received at the HBA's recent board of directors induction banquet.

Each year the current HBA president is charged with selecting a builder-member for the coveted award from a list of nominees. Wayne Farrell, the 2005 HBA president, was convinced that his choice was an easy one. He simply remembered the Herculean effort put forth by Olliver, who as community service chairman of the 2005 Builder Blitz spearheaded the volunteer efforts to build and donate a house worth $155,000 to the Habitat for Humanity Venice area chapter.

"John Olliver's commitment and his leadership of this effort inspired and created the opportunity for 35 of our member companies to come together and to leverage their individual gifts of time and talent, which resulted in one huge gift-an entire finished house for a Habitat for Humanity family," Farrell told assembled HBA members at the induction dinner.

The team Olliver put together built a new home to be donated to Habitat for Humanity in just under a week. That's no small feat in itself. But behind the scenes was the impressive amount of time Olliver also devoted to planning, scheduling and coordinating the effort, which involved countless people and organizations that he inspired to donate time and materials.

Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit group founded in 1976 with the goal of eliminating homelessness. With more than 2,100 active affiliates in 100 countries, including all 50 states of the United States, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico, Habitat builds and rehabilitates simple, decent homes with the help of volunteer labor and donations of money and materials. The homes are then sold to partner families at no profit, financed with affordable, no-interest loans. Locally run affiliates, like Sarasota County's, coordinate Habitat for Humanity building through fund raising, site selection, family selection, house construction and financing.

According to Farrell, "John spent over six months planning the building of this house and it was completed in just five days. It's for that reason as President of the HBA of Sarasota for 2005 I chose John Olliver as the Builder of the Year."

Olliver has made a commitment to the community throughout his 30 years in the area. His South Venice-based company, Precision Custom Homes, is a small family-owned firm that specializes in constructing custom homes in a mid-price range, largely in south Sarasota County. The firm builds 15 to 20 homes a year.

What John gave the community through the 2005 Builder Blitz goes above and beyond his own business efforts. His inspiration and efforts at pulling everyone together are considered to be the driving force that helped ensure that the HBA's Habitat for Humanity project ran smoothly.

Olliver solicited volunteers and donors, scheduled the project, and motivated participating HBA members. His enthusiasm convinced many of the company's sub-contractors to join him in donating time and materials. He even convinced some business owners to pay their employees while they worked on the Habitat for Humanity project.

His proud daughter, Kelly Olliver, who is a vice president at Precision Custom Homes, was closely involved in the project. "People [who saw what was happening] were so touched by it," she notes, "that they came back on their own time. And that even included some reporters who were covering the story!"

The crews often showed up at five in the morning and would sometimes work to as late as two the next morning. "We started on Monday with a concrete slab and on Friday we dedicated a home to the owners," says Kelly. And, she adds, "We did it with four days of rain!"

Olliver managed to gather well over 100 people from over 35 companies and groups to make it happen. In self-effacing style, he graciously accepted the award as Builder of the Year with the statement that, "I feel like I should cut this award in little pieces to give everyone a piece for getting involved."

According to the current HBA president, John King, "We seek nominations for home builders who have shown outstanding leadership and participation. John Olliver led the effort for Habitat and did an outstanding job. He showed tremendous enthusiasm and passion for our industry and has given back to the community."

It's high praise and well deserved. Thanks to this year's great success, King enthusiastically adds that, "We're looking forward to doing it again next year to celebrate Habitat for Humanity's 30th anniversary." Everyone agrees that John Olliver's contribution will be a tough act to follow.


The HBA also recently honored these members for their efforts on behalf of the organization:

Public Servant of the Year: Mary Beth Humphreys, Sarasota County zoning administration manager.

Affliate Member of the Year: T.J. Nutter, John Cannon Homes.

Associate Member of the Year: Kathleen Strobel, Mercantile Bank.

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