Eberly heads state building association

PAT FRIDGEN, Echo Pilot
Larry Eberly has taken the helm of a state builders group.

Larry Eberly is the 2013 president of the Pennsylvania Builders Association. Election to the position was a natural step, as the owner of Larry Eberly Builder, Greencastle, had already served as vice president and board secretary, and at the regional level as vice president and legislative officer. His volunteer service to industry organizations extended even back to his youth.

Eberly followed in the footsteps of his father Raymond, who was a founder of the Franklin County Builders Association in 1962. He tagged along to meetings and began his own career in construction 41 years ago. In FCBA he served as president, vice president, secretary, membership committee chair, and co-chair of the builders' show. The organization recognized him as the 2002 Builder of the Year, and gave him the 1999 Grand Spike Award.

Now in charge of the 6,000 PBA members, Eberly has a chance to set goals he considers most important.

"There are 38 local branches of PBA," he said. "I want to push a team concept among them, so we are unified as a group."

With a cohsive front, he sees the organization as more powerful in protecting the interests of the building industry, which ultimately benefits consumers.

"We look out for them," Eberly said. "We want regulations that are affordable and provide safety."

Recently PBA successfully lobbied against mandatory sprinkler systems in new homes. It supported sprinklers as an option, but knew they were too expensive for some people to install. Home owners who would be hardest hit were those on wells. Now PBA is striving to stretch the every three-year revision of the Uniform Construction Code to six years. Eberly said by the time builders were on top of all the new regulations, they would change. PBA is also watching activity concerning geothermal wells, wanting a balance on rules that effect the environment, and what is best for consumers.

Housing

The recession has hurt the housing business in general, Eberly noted.

"We're the last to feel the effect, but also the last to come out of it. It's hard to explain why."

His observation comes from years of watching the trend. The latest downturn resulted in a drop in PBA membership, but Eberly believes its mission is more important than ever, and that the people making a living in construction should stay involved.

"We watch legislation closely, both state and federal. Special interest groups try to take advantage in hard times."

His various committees study different topics to protect the housing industry, which he termed "fragile."

However, he is sure that things will turn around, and builders will get busy again. The biggest stumbling blocks are still the banks, which are restricted by federal regulations in giving mortgages, and appraisals, which are down due to the number of foreclosures.

Through the years, Eberly's job description hasn't changed much. Basic house construction is the same, he said, but the evolution of products means better energy efficiency through insulation, windows and other features. He saw that solar energy was popular during the energy crisis in the 1970s, but disappeared when utility prices dropped. Now it and wind energy are picking up steam. However, Eberly cautions that the cost must be reasonable in order to be sensible.

Eberly, 62, will attend the International Builders Show, sponsored by the National Association of Home Builders. The Las Vegas event will be a packed three days, he said. The organization will analyze OSHA and EPA regulations, among others, and set a course for the year. He is also on tap to attend the national board of directors spring meeting. He is giving of his time and expertise because he believes in the future.

"Any builder by nature is optimistic. We're always convinced of a comeback."

He and his wife Linda just moved into Greencastle, so he gave up his seat on the Antrim Township Planning Commission after six years. He just became involved in Homes for Our Troops, which is establishing a presence in the area.

The couple has three grown children, Troy in Middletown, Md., Todd in California, Md., and Lori in Salisbury, N.C. They also have three grandchildren, Jack, Abbie and Katie.