Having basically grown up in the building industry (his father Art is a prominent national builder, now retired), Barry Rutenberg seems to view all builders as his extended family. His loyalty to builders and building is what drives his association efforts in everything from city transportation tasks forces to county land use committees to the NAHB’s Traditional and Alternative Building Materials Task Force.
Through his work on the Materials Task Force, Rutenberg has succeeded in improving material options-many in the industry believe that builders are paying less for materials now due to Rutenberg’s efforts. Because of his tireless efforts, Professional Builder is honoring Rutenberg with a Professional Achievement Award.
The two major missions of the task force Rutenberg leads are to introduce alternative materials into the marketplace and stabilize and increase traditional materials supply and pricing. This means Rutenberg travels across the country-often at his own expense-to research and field-test new building technology, meet with builders who have problems with or remedies for current materials glitches, chair committee meetings or represent the industry’s views on Capitol Hill.
"I have fun with the work," says Rutenberg. "I get to work with builders from all backgrounds, representatives from major companies and politicians from several federal departments. I get a lot of mental stimulation from it."
The past few years have been especially stimulating for Rutenberg and his task force, as the current building boom has caused drywall, lumber, insulation and other materials’ supply and pricing to spike wildly up and down. These problems have forced numerous builders to extend delivery times and incur cost overruns, but the situation is reversing and would undoubtedly have been longer and worse if not for Rutenberg.
He has been instrumental in lessening the trade restraints of the Softwood Lumber Agreement between the U.S. and Canada. Steel framing and cement structural system acceptance and market share has also improved, partly as a result of the lumber and drywall shortage and in large part to Rutenberg’s work to eliminate production, distribution, marketing and performance problems. It is very telling of his dedication to building that something significant enough to earn him this industry recognition is in actuality just one of Rutenberg’s many tireless contributions. He has served on and held positions with more than 100 associations, groups, task forces, boards and councils at local, state, regional, national and international levels. He has also built more than 800 homes and 10 communities in Northern Florida since first joining US Home as a regional manager in 1973.
"I love being involved in the associations because they’re basically a seminar with my peers," says Rutenberg. "The functions are a great place for communicating ideas on a wide range of topics."
Rutenberg is currently serving his seventh one-year term as elected chairman of the alternative materials task force. "The task force as we currently know it may cease to exist," says Rutenberg. "But the work will go on."