Georgia Builder – Meet The PRESIDENT
What made you decide to get involved in the builders association?

What attracted me to the Savannah Association is the ability to network with other builders and associates to make my business stronger. I try to learn from other people that have experience. I have been fortunate to have several builders in our association who have been great mentors. Building relationships through our meetings and events is a great asset. While we do some important work at the local level in Savannah, we also have fun. Savannah has some of the friendliest people in the state and our EO, Patty Rietkovich is the ultimate event planner. The fun times help us bond and prepare for the serious work ahead.

What are your hobbies and interests outside of the building industry?

I enjoy hunting wild quail and look forward to our annual trip when a few of my longtime friends and now adult sons, drive to Kansas with our dogs and hunt. I have a farm in Tattnall County and I enjoy working with the Georgia DNR to improve my habitat for wild quail through planting native grasses and prescribed burning of the forest. Spending time on the tractor is good therapy. I also enjoy piloting my own airplane.

Tell us about your family life:

I have been married to Edie Edwards Smith, originally from Butler, Georgia, for 30 years. We met at college. She graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in nutrition and a degree in Pharmacy. She sings with the Savannah Philharmonic Choir and serves on the University of Georgia Alumni Board. We have two great sons, Taylor, 25, and Steven, 24. They both graduated from the University of Georgia. We are a Georgia Bulldog family and I probably should have said this before now, but “GO DAWGS!” Edie is a great cook and we enjoy spending time at our home in Reidsville entertaining our friends and hosting retreats for our company at our farm. We enjoy travel and have a running list of places in the world we want to see and experience. We are both active in our church in Reidsville and we know that our faith was the anchor that kept us going during the worst part of the financial crisis. We are reminded that it is our faith even in the good times that makes our life meaningful.

What do you enjoy most about building homes?

I was in one of our fully decorated model homes a few years ago when a sales consultant was giving a potential home-buyer a tour of the home. I heard her scream. I hurried upstairs to see what had happened. She was standing in the doorway of the master suite with tears in her eyes. She had screamed for joy because she said this was the home that she had been dreaming of and working so hard to buy. Helping people fulfill their dreams makes this an enjoyable endeavor.

What are some challenges with working in the building industry?

I have owned and sold a couple of businesses before owning a homebuilding company. I was never confronted by the public or the government so much as I have been in this business. We build our product while our buyers watch the process. In a public hearing or meeting, I have to remind myself that most people fear the unknown and I must educate and communicate our project plan before they will support our efforts.

What are your goals as president for the upcoming year?

Better communication to our membership. Not just on current events, but making our collective knowledge readily available through a private online forum where members can seek out the experts across the state who have faced similar issues before. Take our magazine digital and online. We will reduce expenses and our sponsorship fees. We will then eventually produce the magazine in-house allowing us to drive more revenue to the