Plain Dealer - Ted Otero installed as president of HBA of Greater Cleveland

January 17, 2017

Ted Otero Installed as president of HBA of Greater Cleveland

By Jill Sell

On December 24, 2016

Ryan Puzzitiello is immediate past president of the Home Builders Association (HBA) of Greater Cleveland. Puzzitiello got one of the biggest laughs during the recent installation of 2017 officers as he passed the organization's presidency on to builder Ted Otero earlier this month.

"I promise there will be a peaceful transition," said Puzzitiello.

The HBA's 73rd Annual Awards & Installation Banquet was held December 2 at the Metropolitan at The 9 in Cleveland. In addition to Otero, founder and president of Otero Signature Homes, the 2017 Executive Committee consists of: Vice President Jason Scott, North Star Builders; Treasurer Mike Lapos, Lapos Construction; Secretary Dean Tompkins, Payne & Payne Builders; Immediate Past President and Presidential Advisor Ryan Puzzitiello, Parkview Homes; and Sales, Marketing and Associates Council Chair Debra Branske, Third Federal Savings and Loan. 

Master of ceremonies Ed "Flash" Ferenc told those in attendance that in 1943 when the HBA's roots were forming, renting a house in Cleveland cost about $40 a month. The average cost of a new house at that time was $3,600.

Ted and Kelly Otero

Photo Credit: David Harris

Otero's inaugural followed what has become an HBA tradition, with the new president thanking those who helped along the way. Otero spoke of the differences between his path to becoming a successful builder and now association president and some officers before him. Otero said he admired and was envious of the closeness of local well-known building industry families, which have put their stamp on northeast Ohio's residential communities for generations. But his was a different route.

Otero holds a civil engineering degree from Case Western Reserve University and an MBA from Cleveland State University. He worked in the commercial real estate industry and construction before striking out on his own in 2004 to create Otero Signature Homes with his wife, Kelly Otero. He is also managing partner of the Otero Group. The builder praised those in the residential building industry who gave him early advice and especially the HBA as an organization, which has provided structure and guidance in his career.

The new president has several goals for his presidency, including aggressively welcoming more builders into the HBA and keeping housing affordable. Otero is also excited about the return of HomeArama, a model showcase that will take place in the Barrington community in Aurora in June 2017.

The Builder of the Year award was presented to Jason Scott. Scott believes his reputation "as being an honest, hardworking and approachable builder who has a passion" for what he does, is one of the reasons he was chosen.

"My partner, Bernie Gray and I are both second generation builders who have been building since we could hold a hammer in our hands," said Scott.

Scott believes the biggest challenge responsible and skilled builders have is "changing the perception of builders with potential clients." Many clients approach Scott with unfortunate stories about working with builders who are not HBA members.

"The HBA takes a lot of time to vet its builders to make sure somebody right off the street is not hurting the reputation of the HBA," said Scott. "We are currently trying to implement a statewide licensing process to keep all of the riffraff out of our industry so reputable builders have an easier time making a client feel more at ease." (FYI: Scott's dream house is a log home with a wood-burning fireplace in every room including an outdoor space on a 100-acre property overlooking a river.) 

William Sanderson, president of the Ohio Home Builders Association and the 2004 HBA of Greater Cleveland president, made a presentation of $5,000 to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, which works to fund type 1 diabetes research. The presentation was made on behalf of the HBA Charitable & Education Foundation.

The 250 plus builders and associates in attendance also listened as Otero was given a presidential roast by his wife, his father, Elving Otero, and best friend and one-time high school football rival, Tom Courtad. Otero's young daughter, Isabella, stole the show playing American the Beautiful on keyboard while accompanying singer Sandy Marra. Otero's son, Austin, was busy delivering bouquets of flowers that were as big as he was to important women in Otero's life.      

Among the other 2016 awards presented:

Presidential Hammer Award (contributions to the building industry throughout one's career) - Richard A. Puzzitiello Jr., Parkview Homes

Cleveland VIP Award - Brenda Callaghan, HBA executive director

James Garvey Associate of the Year - Charlie Ash, Carter Lumber

HBA Committee Chair of the Year--Charles Pengal, Chadwick Homes

HBA Council Chair of the Year - Frank Makoski, Makoski Construction and Remodeling       

Leo Goldberg Award (financial institution providing the most support to the building industry) - Home Savings & Loan

Best line of the evening: Before the formal installation in The 9's mini ballroom, event goers partied in The Vault, an amazing maze of former vaults and offices beneath the former Cleveland Trust rotunda. The private-party area has been transformed into cocktail rooms, a classy speakeasy and plenty of nooks and crannies (some with authentic vault doors) in which to get lost. Said one mortgage provider: "This would be the perfect place to lock up interest rates and seal the deal."

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This article was written by Jill Sell. Jill Sell is a freelance writer specializing in real estate, home and garden. Sell can be reached at jillsell22@windstream.net.