Tag Archives: Habitat for Humanity

Community First

September 17, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

First National Bank is known for “putting customers first.” Part and parcel of that commitment is reinvesting in the communities their customers call home.  

“Our success as a company is dependent upon the success of the communities that we operate in…so the purpose of our community work is to contribute to the success of the communities in which we operate in and serve,” says Alec Gorynski, vice president of Community Development and Corporate Philanthropy at First National Bank.

First National partners with nonprofit organizations across its seven-state footprint—Nebraska, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, South Dakota, and Texas—to support local communities with reinvestments that channel through nonprofit partners. The bank reinvests by direct philanthropy, impact investment, and volunteerism, and chooses its nonprofit partners based on their alignment with First National initiatives, history and track record of success, and potential for impact. 

While philanthropy and community development are not new concepts at First National, Gorynski says that in 2016 the bank specifically committed to reinvesting $85 million and 100,000 volunteer hours back into its communities by 2020. According to First National’s 2017 Impact Report, their two-year totals at the close of 2017 were at $56 million and 76,000 volunteer hours.

While Gorynski acknowledges there is lots of need and many excellent potential partner organizations, First National strategically aligns its community investments with organizations that are working to foster success in eight specific areas: strong local economies, stable housing, vibrant neighborhoods, an educated workforce, good health, community cohesion, access to culture, and sustained environment. Of those eight areas, First National focuses the majority of its efforts on an educated workforce, a strong local economy, and stable housing, each of which can act as essential building blocks to foster success in the other five areas.    

“Success is a wide net when we think about helping our communities succeed, so we think about success from the economic standpoint,” says Gorynski. “We want to help our communities, and the individuals in our communities, move above a certain economic threshold. Certainly it’s a spectrum, but there’s an economic line at which people are more likely to be more active in the economy and more independently prosperous. What we’re really focused on is helping move people above that economic line.”

In service of that goal, Gorynski elaborates, an educated workforce is fostered by education and
job training that helps individuals attain the skills and tools necessary to achieve economic success, often through avenues like youth and adult education, or vocational training. Similarly, their strong economy initiative is buoyed by investments in nonprofits that support small business development, and stable housing is achieved by investments in organizations that work to provide quality, affordable housing opportunities. 

“We believe that home ownership is a means to gain wealth and a pathway to economic stability and prosperity, so we want to invest in programs that help people own a home as a means to building wealth,” says Gorynski. “At the same time, we want to invest in programs that help low-income individuals get quality affordable housing, even if it is rental housing, because we know that housing should never take up more than 30 percent of your income and we want to ensure that people can get housing that’s affordable, but also quality.”

Amanda Brewer, CEO at Habitat for Humanity of Omaha, a prominent community partner of the bank, says the bank provides crucial support to her organization.  

“First National Bank is an incredible partner of Habitat for Humanity. In addition to sponsoring a house and having hundreds of team members volunteer each year, First National has helped by investing in our loan pool, servicing Habitat loans, leading budgeting workshops for our homeowners, and providing countless hours of technical expertise,” says Brewer. “They’ve helped more families realize the dream of homeownership through Habitat and helped us transform neighborhoods.”  

Not only does First National encourage employees to volunteer, they have a time-off policy that allows each employee eight hours paid time off annually to use for volunteering in their community. Gorynski says it all goes back to one of the bank’s guiding mantras: “When our communities are successful, we are successful.” 

For Gorynski, it is a privilege to help set the strategy and tone for First National Bank’s community development and corporate philanthropy efforts, while also leading the team that “puts our financial and human capital to work in alignment with that strategy.” He is quick to praise his team and the Lauritzen family’s ownership and leadership as drivers in making these efforts successful. 

“It’s truly an honor and a privilege to do this work for a company that has a 160-year history of being so committed to Omaha and to all of the communities in which it operates and serves,” says Gorynski. “The team does meaningful work developing really genuine, meaningful partnerships with nonprofit organizations. We have boots on the ground in Omaha and in every community in which we operate who are out there getting to know the communities we serve, getting to know the organizations that are addressing the needs in our communities, and finding meaningful ways for us to support the work of those organizations. It’s because of [the team] that we’re able to get to know the right nonprofit organizations, make meaningful investments in those organizations, and ultimately, realize our goal of successful communities.”


Visit firstnational.com/community to learn more about First National Bank’s community development and philanthropy efforts.

This article was printed in the August/September 2018 edition of B2B. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Habitat for Humanity

August 15, 2018 by

Mission Statement

Seeking to put God’s love into action, Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities, and hope.

Wish List

  • Monetary donations
  • Corporate partnerships
  • Construction volunteers (no experience needed)
  • Office volunteers
  • In-kind donations of building materials, skilled labor, and professional services
  • Membership for the Habitat Young Professionals and Friends groups
  • Donations of furniture, cabinets, building materials, etc. to Habitat ReStore
  • Advocates for Habitat’s mission—subscribe, follow, share and engage

Upcoming Events

  • Band Build: an Omaha Habitat Young Professionals Benefit
    April 2019
  • Women’s Power Luncheon
    May 2019
  • Brew Haha: a Beer and Food Tasting Event
    September 2019
  • Fall Framing Frenzy
    September-October 2019

Background

To address the need for decent shelter in the Omaha area, Habitat Omaha works in many ways: building and renovating homes, repairing existing houses, taking down blighted structures, advocating for better laws and systems, and more. They work with families to help them acquire the access, skills, and financial education needed to be successful homeowners. By partnering with Habitat Omaha, families seize the opportunity and possibility that quality, affordable housing represents. 

Brag Lines

Since 1984, Habitat Omaha has partnered with more than 1,400 families in the community to help address their housing issues through homeownership, home repairs, and community building activities. Thousands of donors and volunteers have worked together with future Habitat Omaha homeowners to make these services a reality, building stronger neighborhoods and creating measurable change in the community. 

Pay it Forward

Habitat Omaha builds because they believe that everyone, everywhere, should have a decent place to live. With an affordable, stable home, families can build long-term financial security and have more to spend on food, medicine, child care, education, and other essentials. Community support will help transform the lives of Omaha families, allowing them to achieve the strength and self-reliance they need to build better lives for themselves and their children.

Habitat for Humanity of Omaha

1701 N. 24th St.
Omaha, NE 68110
402-457-5657
habitatomaha.org


The Big Give was published in the September/October 2018 edition of Omaha Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Lowbrow Pop Culture Maven

August 26, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

If it wasn’t for Bugs Bunny, Ren and Stimpy, or Johnny Bravo, we may never have gotten to know Dan Crane, artist extraordinaire. One of Omaha’s rising contemporary creators, Crane credits his formative years watching Cartoon Network as much as his degree in printmaking from the Kansas City Art Institute for his unique visual perspective.

“That pre-internet, pop culture aesthetic that animators were doing at the time was so particular. It never really left me,” Crane says.

Dan-Crane-1One look at his work and that’s astoundingly clear. A hybrid of commercial and fine art, his pieces range from fartsy to artsy: one of his printed t-shirts displays a butt in mid-squat, while large abstract paintings fill his studio with inviting neon-hues.

Equal parts kid-at-heart and all-grownup, Crane has built an impressive professional portfolio. He has lent his eye-popping visual perspective to the Omaha Creative Institute, and Scout Dry Goods & Trade, and has helped to establish B&G Tasty Foods’ creative brand.

“We try hard to have interesting and unique signage at B&G, and Dan has really helped with that immensely,” says Eddie Morin, restaurant owner. “The most important work he has done for us is designing our new mascots, Louis Meat and Louise Frenchee. We’re using those guys all over the place now.”

Crane recently completed a gig for Mula where he had been commissioned to design, and print t-shirts. The finished shirts feature a monster holding a basketball and a taco with peace signs for eyes. The characters might seem unnatural for a Mexican kitchen and tequileria, but they are representative of Crane’s kooky and bold signature style.

Dan-Crane-2When Crane’s not cooking up art for local eateries, he spends time at the Union for Contemporary Art. As a previous fellowship recipient, he has a small temporary studio at the Union. During his fellowship, which lasted from November 2015 through April 2016, he helped North Omaha school kids transfer their small drawings onto much larger pieces of plywood. The finished products were installed in Habitat for Humanity yards as pop-up public art.

“The Union is all about spreading positive social change through art,” Crane says. “Can I just say that I am so f***ing grateful for them?”

Yes, Crane’s language is commonly peppered with swear words. He’s also got a penchant for Atlanta trap music and once lived in an 1,800-square-foot Blackstone District storefront that was notorious for all-night raves. Nothing Crane does is by the book. And he’s just fine with that.

“The whole art with a capital ‘A’ thing really bugs me,” Crane says. “I’m not motivated to do something unless it’s super-approachable and can be related to on a real level.”

Crane often slips into episodes of nostalgia. Whether he is recalling childhood summers spent copying doodles inside libraries or the two weeks he served pad thai from a truck at Coachella (so he could quit the food industry and focus on art), he’s all about the journey. Not the destination.

“I still feel like I’m in my infancy stage as an artist,” Crane says. “I’m loving what I’m doing now and taking it one day, one project at a time.”

Visit therealweekendo.tumblr.com for more information. Omaha Magazine

The Holtzlanders

July 11, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Many parents understand the drive to and from activities, the shuttling of kids back and forth from one place to another, sometimes trying to be in two places at once. Parents in this country spend between 10 and 50 hours a month taking kids to extracurriculars.

Melissa Holtzlander, who, with her husband Gerald, is raising five children from the ages of 5 to 17, understands this concept well.

Daughter Michelle, 8, has soccer practice on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the same time as son Ryan, 7, practices football. Unfortunately, the practices are in different locations.

Holtzlanders2“Usually I go with Michelle and Gerald will take Ryan to his practices,” Melissa says. Then there’s Alexis, 17, who is the football manager and plays soccer; Caitlin, 15, who participates in show choir; and Samuel, 5, who plays soccer and tee ball. Michelle and Ryan also participate in bowling leagues, and Michelle plays softball while Ryan plays baseball and is a Boy Scout.  Everyone except Samuel takes dance lessons on Wednesdays. (“He didn’t want to for some reason,” Melissa says.)

This juggling act intensifies at the end of the week.

“Saturdays are the crazy days, ’cause that’s when the games happen.”

If you see one, you generally see them all.  Melissa is a big believer in family supporting family. If one child has a sporting event, everyone comes to cheer on that child, and their team.

Sunny Brazda of Bellevue Dance Academy says, “Melissa and Gerald live a very busy life…throughout each busy day, they choose family first.”

Far from going crazy, however, Melissa handles the timetable with ease, even admitting to be in her element when no one is without a task.

Melissa wakes at 4:30 a.m. and performs an hour of cardio training before taking the children to school. She then works at her job until 6 p.m. That’s when she and Gerald shuttle the kids to various activities. When they family activities are done, Melissa and Gerald go to the gym and lift weights for about an hour.

Did I mention that Melissa is a competitive bodybuilder?

One might think the family has lived in Omaha for a long time. In reality, they have been in Omaha since December 2014, when Melissa was given orders to serve at Offutt Air Force Base. They were previously at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, where she was a paralegal and Gerald was a master chief cryptologic technician with the Navy. Gerald retired from the Navy and is employed at VTI Security.

The family enjoys their relaxed (if one can call it that) life here in Omaha.

“Nebraska has much nicer people, it’s a friendlier environment (than Washington D.C.),” says Melissa. “I know Omaha is a city, but it’s not the hustle and bustle of D.C.”

She has a hard time sitting still for too long, but she puts much of her extra energy into good deeds. She volunteers with Habitat for Humanity at every base at which she and her family have lived.

“It’s something that’s easy to volunteer for, but it’s a good way to give back to the community,” Melissa says. “We usually take part in the actual construction. I’ve painted, put on a roof, sometimes we’ve done demo.”

Easy, right?

“I actually feel like I’m doing something useful, not just lifting one finger, you know,” Melissa continues.

Holtzlanders3She participates with Habitat for Humanity even when she isn’t able to work construction. Six years ago, while pregnant with Samuel, she collected money from her fellow servicemen at Lackland Air Force Base near San Antonio, where they were stationed, and bought lunch for the crew working on a home. She is a representative for CASA in Cass County and recently participated in her first court case. She voluntarily helps with physical training for other service people.

The idea of service is rubbing off on the other family members. Brazda said each of the Holtzlader children are hard workers, just like their parents.

Oldest daughter Alexis started participating in Habitat for Humanity projects this past year. (The minimum age for volunteering at Habitat is 16.)

“I had to carry a bunch of wood. I got to saw it all,” Alexis says. “Another lady would measure it and I just sawed it.”

The drive to serve their country is also a trait being passed to the next generation. Alexis is a leader in her Air Force ROTC group at school, an honor for which she was hand-selected. She also plans to apply to the military academies.

“When I see them do stuff, it makes me want to do stuff because they are so much busier than I am,” Alexis says.

Melissa’s goal? To keep her kids engaged in positive activities in order to keep them out of trouble.

“I truly believe that if you keep kids busy, they won’t get into drugs,” she says..”

TOYO! 2016

April 5, 2016 by
Photography by Contributed

Outstanding is a word that is used often to describe an ideal situation or person. The Omaha Jaycees uses it to describe the Ten Outstanding Young Omahans (“TOYO!”), individuals between the ages of 21 and 40 who have exemplified the ideals of their communities and exhibited extraordinary leadership qualities.

Visit omahajaycees.org to learn more.

01Heidi-MausbachHeidi Mausbach

President and CEO, Ervin & Smith Advertising
and Public Relations

Mausbach has won such awards as Midlands Business Journal’s 40 Under 40, the Silver Beacon International Award for excellence in financial services advertising, ADDY Awards from the Nebraska Advertising Federation, and several awards from the Public Relations Society of America’s Paper Anvil Merit and Excellence Awards. Passionate about helping women and children, she has served such non-profit organizations as Big Brothers Big Sisters, Go Red for Women, Habitat for Humanity, YWCA, and ICAN. She’s developed new programs at Ervin & Smith to keep women in the workplace and transition them into leadership roles and is a mentor for several organizations that are committed to the advancement of women.

02David-ArnoldDavid Arnold

Managing Director, Straight Shot

Arnold serves on the Greater Omaha Chamber’s Board of Directors, the Omaha Public School’s Career Education Advisory Council, the Advisory Board for The Entrepreneurship Legal Clinic at the University of Nebraska College of Law, as well as the Metcalfe Park Neighborhood Association. In 2012, after serving as deputy communication director for the Omaha Mayor’s Office, Arnold joined MindMixer–a civic tech startup founded by two Omahans. As account manager, he helped create and lead the company’s Client Services division. He saw Straight Shot, a business accelerator, as an opportunity to combine community building and new venture creation, becoming Managing Director in 2013.

03Shonna-DorseyShonna Dorsey

Co-Founder, Interface: The Web School

Dorsey is currently involved in Web Developer Training at Do Space, Flywheel, the Omaha Public Library, and various other venues, as well as managing website development for Nelson Mandela Elementary. She also coordinates the website and web application development for local nonprofits and small businesses via students of Interface: The Web School. Interface helps people build skills for the web, supplying startups, small businesses, and corporations in the Midwest with technology talent. In addition to her TOYO! award, she has also been recognized by the Midlands Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 (2014) and as an AIM Tech Community Builder of the Year (2015).

04Mosah-GoodmanMosah Goodman

Corporate Attorney and Business Development Parter, Gavilon

Goodman serves on the board of directors for the Child Saving Institute, is a co-founder of 24 Hours of Impact, served on the metro area board for TeamMates, and is a graduate of Leadership Omaha. Upon graduating with a J.D./MBA from the University of Iowa, Goodman accepted an offer to join Gavilon, where he currently serves as counsel. He has managed the construction of the company’s downtown headquarters, supported various business development efforts, and has worked on a variety of legal and compliance issues. Goodman is also a member of the Screen Actors Guild and a former nationally ranked chess player.

05Roger-GarciaRoger Garcia

Student, Theology

While at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, Garcia became involved in various leadership opportunities, earning him the Senior Vice Chancellor’s Leadership Award and the Student Leader of the Year Award. He has also been involved in the Nebraska Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Family Violence Council, the YWCA, and Justice for Our Neighbors—Nebraska. Garcia has been working in the nonprofit and public sector for more than 10 years and is now serving as the executive director of Centro Latino of Council Bluffs, Iowa. He also has served within public office as a member of the Metropolitan Community College Board of Governors since 2013.

06AndresTorresAndres Torres

Engineering Project Manager, Valmont Industries

Torres is actively involved with the American Society of Civil Engineers and has held different roles, including President of the Nebraska Section and co-chair of the Younger Members Group. Since 2013, he has also served as Council Member for the Greater Omaha Young Professionals and is one of the founders of the Valmont Professional Network. Torres received the Greater Omaha 40 under 40 Award in 2012 and ASCE’s Young Engineer Award for Professional Achievement in 2014. As an engineer, he designs tubular steel structures that are used to support transmission lines, highway lighting, and traffic lights for customers in more than 25 countries around the globe.

07Julie-Sebastian-(1)Julie Sebastian

President and CEO of New Cassel Retirement Center

Aside from New Cassel Retirement Center, Nebraska’s largest assisted-living community and a nonprofit provider of services for the aging person, Sebastian also founded the Franciscan Adult Day Centre, one of few adult day service programs in Nebraska. She has volunteered with youth at St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church for nine years and also serves as chair of the board at LeadingAge Nebraska, where she participates in LeadingAge’s national public policy congress. In her leisure time, Sebastian mentors young people she met through St. Andrew’s youth group, including spending a week each summer on the annual high school mission trip.

08Eric-WilliamsEric Williams

Natural Resources Planner, Papio-Missouri River NRD

In 2008, Williams founded the Omaha Biofuels Cooperative to recycle used cooking oil into local biofuels and reduce the use of fossil fuels in our community. His work with nonprofit organizations includes helping found the Dundee Community Garden, serving on the boards for the Green Omaha Coalition and Mode Shift Omaha, and serving as chair for Earth Day Omaha in 2014. Williams is president of Nebraskans for Solar for 2016 and has worked with the Office of Sustainable Development at the City of Omaha on climate legislation. At Papio-Missouri River NRD, Williams manages trail construction for active transportation and recreational access to natural resource areas, as well as urban stormwater management projects.

09Beth-MorrissetteBeth Morrissette

Treasurer, Westside Community Schools Board of Education (WCS BOE)

Morrissette recently left her position as executive director of the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Network, a collective impact that works with community partners to provide a continuum of care for individuals with mental health and substance abuse needs. In 2013, the network received the NACo (National Associations of Counties) Achievement Award for the Alternatives to Incarceration project. Today, Morrissette continues to provide consulting and strategic planning services serves as the WCS BOE representative on the Learning Community Council. Since 2013, Morrissette has served on the United Way of the Midlands Community Impact Cabinet and is a member of the Women’s Fund Circles.

10Butch-Burgers

Butch Burgers 

Associate Athletic Director, Creighton University

Mark “Butch” Burgers is involved with Special Olympics of Nebraska, the American Heart Association, the Kyle Korver Foundation, Community Health Charities, Angels Among Us, the Omaha American Cancer Society, the Knights of Aksarben, and the Jaybacker Executive Board at Creighton. Before returning to his alma mater, Burgers served as associate athletic director at South Dakota State University for two years. At Creighton, he assists with day-to-day operations and oversees the operating budget, donor relations, and various sports. Creighton became the only university nationally to have top-10 attendance in soccer, baseball, and basketball and has reached record numbers in corporate sponsorship sales, season ticket revenues, and Jaybacker support.

Artist Watie White

February 10, 2015 by and
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Dilapidated houses. Watie White has learned a lot about working with them, but not in the conventional sense. Last year, the artist partnered with Habitat for Humanity to take three homes slated for demolition on Emmet Street in North Omaha and turned them into monumental installations that focused on the history of a poor neighborhood, one often overlooked or completely ignored by the general public.

The project, called All That Ever Was Always Is, involved making 81 paintings, which were turned into vinyl prints and then installed in all the windows of each home. Before making the paintings, White explored the houses’ histories by interviewing previous inhabitants and neighbors. He also used artifacts like letters and photographs left behind to create a narrative history.

“They turned out to be really strong, profound pieces,” says White. “For the people who live in that neighborhood, they’re not just houses—they’re part of a community.”

White additionally hosted community dinners and public talks. “It was important because neighbors thought about the personal value of that kind of situation. It was a chance to bring people together and a lot of beautiful, little things happened, things that were good about their neighborhoods,” he explains. “It was a cathartic experience.”

Although the homes were demolished in December, the artist is already working on his next public art projects. For New Nebraskans, which is in partnership with Justice for Our Neighbors and representatives from the Intercultural Senior Center, public schools, the v, and the Anti-Defamation League, he will create four large-scale murals (a fifth is currently installed at the Justice for our Neighbors’ headquarters). They will feature immigrants and refugees living in Benson, North Omaha, South Omaha, and Little Italy.

For You Are Here, White will partner with inCOMMON Community Development to paint a large-scale banner mural for a public housing building located at Park Avenue adjoining Hanscom Park. Like his Emmet Street work, White will feature community members and is interviewing people so he can portray the neighborhood as accurately as possible. “I want people to be touched or at least feel something about the projects,” says the artist.

Recently White also received high-profile national attention himself. He (along with Angela Drakeford) was chosen to represent Nebraska in State of the Art, an exhibition running through January 19th at the Crystal Bridges Museum of Art in Bentonville, AR. The selection process began with a list of 10,000 U.S. artists, which was then cut to 1,000. Following nationwide studio visits, he was selected as one of 102 artists to be featured. The inclusion was significant: not every state was represented and such dignitaries as Bill Clinton, Martha Stewart, and Deepak Chopra have visited the prestigious museum founded by Alice Walton, an heir to the Wal-Mart fortune.

“It’s hard to know what will come of it,” White says, “but it’s hard to overstate how much it feels like it legitimizes what you do.”

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Minimal Living

March 30, 2014 by

Artist Jamison Hiner hand-crafted a sign on the wall of his artistic Omaha home that reads “Work hard, Love hard.” It’s a motto that he takes pretty seriously. He raises chickens; tinkers on cars, including a 1962 Corvair Van; runs an Etsy shop where he sells hand-painted vintage bus scrolls; and he built a tiny house that sits in his backyard. The attention his project received has even caused strangers to approach him and say, “Hey, I know you. You’re that tiny house guy!”

A web designer at Turnpost Creative Group, Hiner is a graduate of Savannah College of Art and Design. He has two daughters and a loving wife. How does he fit it all in? “I guess I learn to stop time,” he says. “My wife is very good about letting me work on things.”

20140111_bs_0639

He is part of a social movement called “Tiny House,” where people downsize their living space, to dramatic effect. While a typical house is 2,600 square feet, most tiny houses range from 100 to 400 square feet. His vacation house is an economical 128 square feet and is adorably named “Thistle Dew Too,” inspired by a sign hanging at his wife’s relatives’ house in Missouri.

He began building it in the summer of 2012. Wanting to keep costs to a minimum, he cobbled together recycled materials from various sources. He used reclaimed materials from a farmhouse for the flooring, and he picked up the windows at Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore. Hiner built it to code with one exception—the walls are constructed of beadboard instead of drywall so it wouldn’t break apart on the trailer in its travels.

The cabin consists of a main space with a library, which he calls the “Great Room” because of its 10-foot ceiling. There’s also a roomy queen-sized loft bed, a kitchen with a mini-fridge, and a bathroom. He used energy-efficient LED lighting and set it up so it can run on solar power and batteries should he decide to bug out anytime soon. He constructed the shower walls with leftover corrugated metal that he got from his talented, interior designer mother. The composting toilet uses peat moss and wood chips to create a completely odorless environment.

To decorate the cozy space, he ordered artistic prints from Etsy depicting various woodland animals to give it a cabin feel, as if one just returned from a nature hike. A trippy fox with butterfly wings hovers over a picture of a bear and wolf curled up dreamily in a sea of stars. A whimsical white faux deer trophy hangs high above. The overall effect springs to mind nights around a campfire. Hiner has fond childhood memories of camping, and he wanted that same experience for his family—but on the cheap and only steps from the back door.

The family’s alternative to owning an RV, he says, “is way cooler. We can just take our cabin with us.”

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Q&A: Ted and Jerry Ramm

February 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Builders Ted and Jerry Ramm have a long family legacy in residential construction. Several generations of Ramms have built homes in the Omaha metro, dating back over a century. Today, the brothers head up Ramm Construction, Inc. We asked Ted Ramm to share with us a bit about their business, their family history in the trade, and just what’s in store for home construction in the months to come.

Q: When did you and Jerry start Ramm Construction, Inc.? What kinds of homes do you build?

A: We established Ramm Construction in 1999. Both Jerry and I are owners. We build 20 or so homes per year in the Omaha area, specializing in ranch and two-story homes in the $250,000-$600,000 range. Our “Normandy” model home is at 3116 N. 192nd Ave. in the Elkhorn View Estates subdivision in Elkhorn.

GM4V7763 copy

Q: Tell us a bit about your family history in the trade. How did you get your start?

A: Jerry and I were born into this business. We are actually four generations deep in homebuilding going back to the 1800s. Joseph Ramm, our great grandfather, moved to Omaha from Germany in 1905 and began a homebuilding business. His son, Al, continued the tradition, as did his son, Thomas Ramm, our dad. Dad built about 10 or so homes per year his entire career, right here in Omaha. In Dad’s business, we performed a big percentage of the work ourselves, including framing and finish carpentry, cabinets, roofing, exterior decks, siding, and hardware installation. We literally grew up on and around the jobsite. We were trained as carpenters in the business we love. Dad is an incredible role model.

Q: How do the two of you share the responsibilities of managing the family business?

A: I act as project manager on our homes. I oversee the sales, and I’m the customer’s start-to-finish contact, helping with design, pricing, design and finish selections, contract modification, customer support, etc. I have a Construction Management degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Jerry has 15 years’ experience running a framing crew and is an accomplished trim and framing carpenter. He performs most of the trim carpentry on our homes. Jerry’s duties also include acting as job superintendent. We both offer day-to-day supervision [at the jobsite].IMG_7986 (2) copy 2

Q: Who make up the majority of your clients? Have you focused on that segment of the market?

A: Our niche seems to be with young families. Both Jerry and I are married with children, and I feel like I can relate very well with young, growing families. We feature great family plans and build in many subdivisions in the Elkhorn area and West Omaha popular with young families. My mother has told me that it is a privilege to build homes for people…You are fulfilling a basic need of shelter and that is very special. I enjoy getting to know our customers and becoming part of their lives.

Q: What is your forecast for the Omaha housing market in the next year or so?

A: We are very bullish about the housing environment. We have experienced strong sales over the last six months or so, especially in the Elkhorn area. We are fortunate to offer lots in most of the Elkhorn neighborhoods, including the recently developed Andersen Meadows on 178th and Blondo, and Windgate Ranch, which will have buildable lots later this year. The combination of the low interest rates, an elevated housing demand, and the strong economy in Omaha make it a great time to build.20090828_cc_3178 copy

Q: Tell us a bit about the two of you personally, and what you’re involved in locally.

A: I was the 2011 Metro Omaha Builders Association president and a longtime board member. I’ve performed as both an estimator and project manager on multi-million-dollar commercial construction projects as well. I’ve also been mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Midlands for 15 years, and been head coach of multiple kids’ sports teams, including soccer, basketball, and baseball. I currently coach my son’s sixth grade baseball team. I can’t wait for it to warm up and hit the baseball diamond! Jerry is married with two children. He’s an avid outdoorsman who enjoys fishing and hunting, as well as attending sporting events. He also likes to build things even in his spare time. He volunteers with Habitat for Humanity.