Lyle Gardner, a longtime home builder, leader and advocate for the industry was inducted into the North Carolina Housing Hall of Fame at the North Carolina Home Builders Association’s (NCHBA) 4th Quarter Meeting and Installation Ceremony held at Pinehurst Resort in November.
Gardner has served as a tireless leader and advocate for the home building industry throughout his 45-year career.
A native of Onslow County, Gardner came to Raleigh to attend NC State University where he graduated with a degree in engineering in 1967.
Gardner knew that he didn’t want an ordinary office job. He became an on-site sales agent because he figured it would keep him out of the office at least part of the time. He later went on to work for a builder and developer in Raleigh and subsequently earned an MBA from the University of Tennessee.
In 1978, Gardner founded Evergreen Construction Company. He believed that intelligent, attractive design could co-exist with affordable housing. As he grew his business, he became a leading voice on housing affordability. Gardner wrote about this issue and the impact of regulations on housing affordability as a contributor to the News & Observer in the 1990s. In 2004, he served on the City of Raleigh’s South East Raleigh Assembly to grapple with the difficult issue of how to provide housing opportunities to underserved minorities. His leadership resulted in redevelopment in southeast Raleigh which provided financially diverse housing so as not to displace current residents.
He became a leader in the Housing Tax Credit program providing affordable rental housing to those unable to obtain it in the marketplace.
During his career, Gardner championed diversification as a key to business survival. When he started a custom home building company –Spectrum Homes –he constantly adjusted to market demand by offering both higher-and moderately-priced homes. This model ensured the financial strength of his company even during economic downturns.
Gardner’s knowledge of diversification and his long experience in the industry was a crucial asset when he served as NCHBA’s 46th president in 2010 during the height of the Great Recession. Gardner encouraged builders to diversify, and he helped them identify specialty building opportunities in warehousing and industry. He was the perfect leader for the most difficult period our industry had experienced since the Great Depression.
Much of this experience came from his active involvement in the HBA of Raleigh-Wake County where he served as its president in 1992. Among many other initiatives, Gardner helped strengthen and expand the HBA’s scholarship program. Over the years, he’s either chaired or been a member of seven different local HBA committees.
At the national level, Gardner is a life spike and has served as a NAHB director for many years, a state representative for North Carolina, and a member of the NAHB Executive Committee. He has served with distinction on NAHB’s Housing Finance Committee, Land Development Committee and as a Multi-Family Council Trustee.
Gardner received a plaque at the ceremony that was inscribed with the following message, “Through your dedicated service to the HBA of Raleigh-Wake County, NCHBA and NAHB, you have strengthened the home building industry and highlighted the importance of affordable housing both by word and by deed. During your tenure as NCHBA President, you traveled the state during a very difficult time for our members –constantly encouraging them to survive and to set their sights on a brighter future. Your guidance and motivation was critical when our industry needed it the most! During your remarkable 45-year career, you assisted hundreds of families by providing quality, affordable housing. You have set the standard that others will aspire to emulate.”
The Housing Hall of Fame’s Board of Governors selected this worthy inductee from a pool of outstanding candidates who were nominated. Nominations are currently being accepted for induction in 2017. Visit www.nchba.org/nc-housing-hall-of-fame to download a nomination form. Nominations must be submitted by April 15, 2017 for consideration.