Builders’ president concerned about environment, jobs


Adam Bolton of Robinshore Inc., the 2009 president of the Builders Association of North Central Florida, shown at the Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park in Gainesville.

Erica Brough/Staff photographer
Published: Sunday, January 18, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 16, 2009 at 4:52 p.m.

In a community that values its natural resources, builders and developers are often vilified as enemies of the environment.

Facts

Adam Bolton

  • Title: President, Robinshore Inc.
  • Personal: Married; two children ages 9 and 5
  • Education: Bachelor of science in building construction, University of Florida.
  • Dream partner for lunch: His father, Herb Bolton
  • Best advice received: From father: “Keep your nose to the grindstone and good things will come.”
  • Hobbies: Cycling, camping with kids, lifetime surfer.

Adam Bolton wants the public to know that builders live and work here and share the same values. Although building homes inevitably impacts the land, he said local builders have done so in a way that created the many woodsy subdivisions that make Gainesville such a desirable place to so many of its residents.

“They weren’t done that way by accident. They were done that way on purpose by people who really appreciate the old tree canopy and tried to build homes and communities that fit in with what’s surrounding all of us,” he said.

Bolton is president of homebuilders Robinshore Inc. and the 2009 president of the Builders Association of North Central Florida.

He points out that the association’s members have also been at the forefront of the green building movement, incorporating technology to respond to customers’ increasing concerns about conserving energy use and costs.

In the current economic climate, builders are responding to customers who are even more concerned about the initial affordability of the home as well as the ongoing energy costs, he said. Homes built by Robinshore and others are getting smaller and more energy efficient.

With about 600 companies, the association has been able to retain more than 80 percent of its members, “unheard of in the state,” as many struggling builders have closed, Bolton said.

But that doesn’t reflect the struggles of the remaining local companies that have had layoffs and reduced hours for its workers. Robinshore had 25 full time employees at its peak in 2005 when it was building more than 100 homes a year, and is down to 12 employees after building 25 homes last year, Bolton said.

One of the association’s goals is to keep an open dialogue with local governments about decisions that affect their industry, he said. They are particularly concerned about significant new fees being discussed by county government.

“I don’t think that right now is the appropriate time to raise fees that might be another obstacle for someone to afford a home or for a project to start,” he said. “You can over-regulate and you can certainly under-regulate. Finding a balance there and using good reason and good stewardship as your guide to make those decisions is really what we’ve been advocating.”

It’s not just builders who are hurting, Bolton said. New growth provides significant revenue to the community “that a lot of great things are being done with,” and brings jobs for associated industries such as real estate attorneys, lumber yards, manufacturers and others.

Most affected are the little guys in the labor force, he said.

“We really would like to put carpenters back to work,” Bolton said. “A lot of painters are sitting at home.”

The association is also involved in the community through projects that have included constructing Hope House transitional housing for recently released convicts and the Reichert House facility for at-risk youths. Their current project is to raise money and materials to build a new building for the PACE Center for Girls.

The builders’ Parade of Homes will be held again in the spring to “showcase the best of what’s out there,” Bolton said.

Like other builders, Bolton has become a part of the community, adopting Gainesville as his home after moving often. The son of a Navy captain, he was born in Japan and lived in California, Wisconsin, Virginia, Colorado and Florida. He lived in Gainesville at age 4 and again to attend the University of Florida

“I’m really kind of from nowhere but feel like I’m home now,” he said.

After working in heavy industrial construction working on power plants, wind turbines and a cement plant, he returned to Gainesville from Sarasota with the intention of attending medical school. He was taking prerequisite night classes at Santa Fe College and working at Robinshore as a superintendent to pay the bills. After his son was born, he said his priority was to take care of his family and med school didn’t seem like a good idea.

“I feel like I accidentally got the job I always wanted,” he said.

Contact Anthony Clark at anthony.clark@gvillesun.com or 352-374-5094.

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