Members of the Home Builders Association and Remodelers Council of Metropoltian Portland gathered yesterday to award Tom Kelly of Neil Kelly Design/Build Remodeling the prestigious Building Excellence Lifetime Achievement Award.
Tom Kelly’s influence on housing, the remodeling industry, and communities and people in general is amazing. In 1980, he took over the operations of a successful remodeling company founded by his dad, who was also a legendary remodeling and housing pioneer in our region. He’s built that into one of the most well-known and successful remodeling businesses, not just in Portland, or even Oregon, but in the entire Country.
While the number of accomplishments, awards and recognition Tom has received would fill pages, there are a few areas that stand out as reasons why he is so deserving of this award from our industry.
He has certainly been an active and involved member of the HBA. He has served on the HBA Board of Directors, as an HBA Officer, and was HBA President in 1996 – the first remodeler to hold that position. His company has participated in many of our Tour of Remodeled Homes, has been supportive of HBA events and activities, and has numerous employees and staff serve on HBA committees, councils and Task Forces.
Tom’s also not shy about taking action, especially if he thinks there needs to be a better vehicle built for working on industry issues. He was one of the founders of HBA’s Remodelers Council – making sure the Home Builders Association had a strong venue for promoting, representing and advancing this fast growing segment of the construction industry. He also is a founder of the Oregon Business Association, which started just a few years ago when Tom and other business leaders felt a different approach was needed to represent business at the legislative level. OBA now has over 300 of Oregon’s top businesses as members.
He was green before green had a color. His company has done more to innovate and adopt green building practices and the use of sustainable building materials than probably any in our region. In 1997, his firm embraced the principles of the Natural Step – a way of approaching business that reduces environmental impact and increases efficiency. In 2006, he built a net zero energy home, which actually produces more energy than it uses. It was awarded the first LEED for home silver certification in the west coast.
Tom doesn’t rest on his laurels, nor is he afraid of making change. He took what was already a successful local remodeling company and has expanded it to help diversify its business. The company now also has a home repair division, a custom home division, a home performance division and an environmentally friendly cabinet company.
But no review of Tom’s accomplishments and contributions, no matter how succinct, would be complete without mentioning his heart for Oregon’s communities and others less fortunate. Tom’s support and involvement goes to a wide variety of educational, environmental, and social service organizations including groups such as the Portland Children’s Museum, Volunteers of America, Providence Medical Foundation, the Oregon Solutions Project, Children’s Cancer Association, Columbia Riverkeeper, EarthShare and the Albina Rotary Neil Kelly Memorial Scholarship Fund. And he’s continued his company’s 30 year active participation in Loaves and Fishes / Meals on Wheels, serving on the Board and chairing its fundraising committee. For ultimately, Tom combines a strong spirit of pioneering and progress built on the respect for the legacy his father established.