Linder: NEFBA's new president

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  • | 12:00 p.m. February 9, 2006
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“You have all sorts of challenges when you run your own company...There is a lot of trial and error that goes on and you learn fairly quickly what to do and what not to do. I think that that helps quite a bit in any leadership role...”

— Jerry Linder, president of The Vintage Group

by Michele Newbern Gillis

Staff Writer

Jerry Linder, the new president of the Northeast Florida Builders Association has always been an entrepreneur and he hopes that his knack for taking a business idea and making it successful will be handy as he steps into the lead of the Northeast Florida Builders Association.

“You have all sorts of challenges when you run your own company,” said Linder, president of The Vintage Group, a custom home builder. “There is a lot of trial and error that goes on and you learn fairly quickly what to do and what not to do. I think that that helps quite a bit in any leadership role. You have to work with a lot of different people and different personalities. You have to work with employees and headstrong people and passive people. I think that over the years being in that kind of environment certainly prepares you for a leadership role like this.”

Linder has been a member of NEFBA for over 10 years. He entered into the chairs for a four year commitment starting with the secretary/treasurer position, then moving into first vice president, president and then immediate past president.

“I’ve been very involved in the Clay County Builders Council and am a past chair there,” he said. “I spent quite a bit of time working in the Northeast Florida Builders Association, starting in Clay County and then here in Duval County.

He said he had been asked a few times to lead NEFBA, but he begged off since his children were still young and he wanted to make sure that if he ever took the position he could give it all the attention that it needs and deserves.

“The industry that we work in has been very good to me and I’ve been very blessed with the people that I have worked with,” he said. “I think it is a way to give back and contribute to an industry that has been good to me.”

Linder’s goals this year include continuing to work toward affordable housing, Green building program and more community involvement by NEFBA.

“Affordable housing is very hard to capture today, but we are into this workforce housing mode trying to keep that line of home out there for our teachers, police officers and firemen. There are always a lot of challenges there with rising prices and government intervention, that we are always trying to balance out there, that cause the prices to rise.”

Green building is a program where builders make their homes environmentally friendly.

“One of the things we are going to do this year is to continue to try and get as many builders in that program as we possible can so that we are being good stewards of our natural resources,” he said. “There are some things that we can do in our building practices that can help that. We are kind of in the midst of working with JEA to try and figure out the right way to get that done.”

Community involvement has always been an important goal of NEFBA members and Linder wants to continue that tradition.

“The members of NEFBA do a fantastic job of contributing and helping people and that’s always been a big thing here,” he said. “One of our goals is to continue with that.”

Personally, Linder has a goal to develop projects that directly help some of the veterans coming home from war.

“There are so many things that we sometimes take for granted in life and one of those things is our freedom,” he said. “There is a reason that we are able to work and prosper in this industry. We are all recognizing good times, but there is a war going on and there are people that are paying the ultimate price for us to be able to have those freedoms.”

NEFBA has always targeted all the different needs that are out there as far as housing, but Linder wants to now focus on veterans.

“I really want to focus on the veterans that are coming home or maybe that aren’t coming home we can help them with their housing needs,” he said. “We are working with the Veterans office right now to see what the needs are. We know that Builders Care has worked in helping certain veterans out in their program and they will continue to do that. We are just looking for that family or that group or maybe a couple of different veterans that need help. We don’t know if it’s building a house, modifying a house or what their needs are.”

During his year as president, Linder also plans to look inward and help the organization from the inside out.

“The lifeblood of any organization is its membership, so we have to continue to find ways to keep our membership healthy and retain the members that we have,” he said. “That really does become the bloodline that enables us to do all the things that we want to do that are helpful in the community and helpful to the industry. Bryan Lendry of Brylen Homes, the immediate past president, will continue to work on membership for us this year and find ways to increase it. This is such a giving industry that I work in and that we represent that there is not a whole lot of arm twisting in what we do. I have not counted up the dollars over a period of time that has filtered through here that goes back into the community, but it’s huge.”

Linder is following in the footsteps of Bryan Lendry of Brylen Homes.

“Bryan was a great president,” said Linder. “Bryan is a roll up your sleeves type of person and he makes things happen. He is very aggressive in his approach and has a never say die attitude. I think that being president takes a certain amount of that to make things happen. He is a certainly a lead by example guy. I’ve certainly seen that and feel that it could trickle over to me.”

Linder has been in business for himself since he was a very young man.

“I got my state builders license when I was 22 years old and started right out in business for myself,” said Linder. “What I wanted to do led me down the path of owning my own company and going in that entrepreneurial avenue.”

The Vintage Group celebrated its 10 year anniversary last year and was put together by Linder and partners Gary Silverfield and Charles Atkerson.

“My main duty, other than overall management of the company, is to be very involved in sales aspect of it,” said Linder. “Since we build custom homes, there are a lot of one-on-one requirements to be effective at what we do. I spend a lot of time with our clients on the front side as well as during the construction process.”

Linder also focuses on land acquisition and overall management of the systems and processes of the company.

The Vintage Group builds about 23 homes a year with an average price point of $850,000. They build homes ranging from $500,000 to $3 million.

Running his own company and NEFBA takes a certain amount of balance but Linder feels he is ready for the task.

“In addition to surrounding myself with good people here [at NEFBA], I have to surround myself with good people at work,” he said. “We have a great staff of people, so that is going to go a long way in that balance. I think you need to recognize what your limitations are because you have work, the association and home. It will be challenging, but I think you need to understand where your priorities are. But, having good people in those different areas helps you a lot.”

Linder got his start in construction when he was attending college in Tallahassee. In order to make a little money he started working for a construction company.

“I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life,” he said. “I was moving in the direction of medicine, but then I figured that wouldn’t be the right thing because I didn’t think I could be committed to that kind of schooling. I really enjoyed construction and continued to do it when I returned to Jacksonville. I worked for a framing company and learned the construction business from the ground up.”

He started his own framing company, L & R Construction, which then became J. L. Linder Construction Company.

“I worked for several years doing framing and warranty related work for builders,” he said. “It was a need that was out there at the time.”

He ran that company for five years. While doing that, he became partners with Frank Houston in a home building company, Designer Showcase Homes. He started The Vintage Group in 1995 and oversees 19 employees.

Linder has been married to Beth, a certified public accountant, for 12 years. They have two children, Drew, 9 and Eric, 5.

When he is not working, he enjoys spending time with his family and participating in their baseball games and practices.