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After 30 years on job, Sam Bradley still loves his work

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by Michele Skalicky

SBJ Contributing Writer

Most weeks, Sam Bradley, owner of Sam Bradley Homes, puts in 60 to 70 hours of work. He believes in being involved in education and government in order to better his industry.

Last year, he finished up four years of classes through the Home Builders Institute, the educational arm of the National Association of Home Builders, to become the first master builder in Missouri. He is now serving as president of the Home Builders Association of Greater Springfield.

The 45-year-old, who grew up in Springfield, has been building homes for at least 30 years. His father, Orville, was a builder, and Bradley used to help out on his father's work crews. He learned to build from those who constructed homes for his father, but his work ethic came from Orville.

"I learned mainly more of the integrity part from him being honest, treating people fairly and that a worker deserves a decent day's wage for the work he puts in," Bradley said.

At age 23, Bradley went into business for himself, building speculation starter homes in and around Springfield. Today, he builds everything on a custom basis, a change he welcomed.

"Custom homes are more of a challenge," he said. "A simple home I can do in my sleep. I enjoy the challenge of something more complicated."

And Bradley has plenty of work to keep him busy, with a large demand for custom homes. He doesn't do much hands-on work anymore, since managerial tasks take up most of his time, but he said he would like to eventually get back into the actual building process.

Recently, Bradley was named HBA's Builder of the Year, along with Springfield remodeler Russell Caldwell. The award means a lot to Bradley. "To be voted on by your peers as someone to be recognized as Builder of the Year is a humbling and exciting experience all wrapped into one."

Education is important to Bradley, which is what prompted him to begin taking classes toward the master builder certification five years ago.

Being a master builder has put Bradley in an elite group. Approximately 60,000 builders are members of the National Association of Home Builders, and only about 180 are master builders. Missouri is home to only two Bradley and Caldwell.

Someday, Bradley said, he would like to teach undergraduate courses in the same program, since he is now qualified to do so. It's important to launch a three-point attack on education, according to Bradley.

An educated public, he said, helps people make better decisions. "They know to hire a professional."

Education also helps HBA members to better serve their clients, he said. "It used to be builders came up through the ranks of some trade. Now I see more businesspeople becoming builders who don't have any construction knowledge."

It's also important, Bradley said, to increase the education and awareness of elected officials on housing issues. Bradley has a chance to help in that area as a national director on the board of directors for the National Association of Home Builders.

He serves on the national association's committee for education and business management, and also gets involved in the state association's legislative day in Jefferson City.

For the past two years, Bradley has been involved in professional builder design series seminars with Stephen Fuller of Design Traditions in Atlanta. He's one of 50 people around the country who are invited to take part in the program.

"We design eight homes per year that take into account design features and ways of designing more efficient homes that utilize new products."

Despite all that, Bradley still finds time to spend with his wife, Greta, and their "dog daughter," Sissy, and to enjoy his favorite hobby sprint car racing. He's sponsor of a car, which races in Missouri, Oklahoma and Kansas.

Bradley said he hopes to accomplish much more in the building industry in the future. "You should like what you're doing enough that it doesn't seem like work," he said.

"That's what home building is to me. I enjoy it. It doesn't seem like work."

PHOTO CAPTION:

The kitchen of the Hill home built by Sam Bradley Homes.

PHOTO CAPTION:

The Hills' dining room

PHOTO CAPTION:

Sam Bradley Homes built this Rogersville home, owned by Jon and Mary Hill. It was a finalist for Metal Home of the Year, an award given by Metal Home Digest magazine. Bradley says he spends most of his time creating custom-built homes, which offer him "more of a challenge."

Above: the hearth room

At right: the master bathroom[[In-content Ad]]

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