Brett Godfrey didn’t intend to be a homebuilder. The self-described foodie intended to use his hospitality administration degree from Missouri State University to run a hotel.

“I’ve always liked to cook. I think it’s in my blood,” he says.

But the Ozarks native says God had other plans for him. When he and his wife of 33 years were looking to move into the city, Godfrey couldn’t find the features the couple wanted for the price he wanted. So, with help from his father-in-law, an experienced builder from California, Godfrey built his first house in 1986.

“A lot of sweat equity went into that project and I enjoyed it. I think it was God’s way of telling me I should be a builder,” he says.

His father-in-law, Lewis Sexton, became his mentor, and Godfrey went to work for himself, incorporating Built By Brett Inc. in the mid-1990s.

Godfrey joined the Home Builders Association of Greater Springfield in 1993 and by ’95, had his first house featured in the HBA Parade of Homes.

“The Parade was the main reason I originally joined HBA, I wanted that exposure,” he says.

Godfrey featured a home in the Parade each year through 2009 and began serving the HBA board in ’96, working his way up as secretary, treasurer and eventually a two-term president in 2003 and 2004.

Possibly foreshadowing the year to come, former HBA CEO Matt Morrow asked Godfrey to take the reins as board president again in 2013, one of a handful of three-term presidents in organization’s history. In October 2012, 12-year CEO Morrow informed the board he was leaving for a post with the Alabama-based Greater Birmingham Association of Home Builders.

Hired for her emphasis on membership, Gloria Roling signed on Jan. 1, but the tenure was short lived. Roling resigned April 5, citing family reasons.

Ken Thrasher started as the next CEO July 1, but like Roling, he spent just four months at the helm before resigning during the first week of November.

The organization has since decided not to hire another CEO, instead reassigning responsibilities among current staff.

Godfrey says the recession hit the entire construction industry hard, but he was “able to read the tea leaves” and didn’t stick his neck out too far during the down years.

“It was slow for two or three years. Heck, if the phone rang and they wanted me to change a light bulb, I would do it,” he says.