“Homebuilding is in my blood; it’s in my veins,” says White Rock’s Neil Moody.
And he means it.
When he was 14, growing up in North Vancouver, he created a treehouse that was the talk of his neighbourhood.
“New houses were being built all around our home, and I’m told I’d spend hours looking out the window, watching the construction techniques,” he recalled.
That fascination, and an innate entrepreneurial drive, allowed him to set up a furniture-manufacturing business when he was 18. When he sold it at a profit several years later, he was back into residential construction, buying into a business as a builder and subcontractor of single-family homes in the South Surrey area in the 1980s.
It seems fitting that – following 14 years in Japan as executive director of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, chair of the Foreign Chambers of Commerce and instigator of the Canadian Chambers of Commerce and Business Associations in Asia – Moody has been appointed CEO of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association of B.C.
As the voice of the residential construction industry in Canada, the association exerts a leadership role for more than 8,500 companies, including builders, developers, renovators, contractors, manufacturers and suppliers, as well as an influence in maintaining quality of work.
As new CEO of the provincial organization, Moody believes that his years in Japan and thorough indoctrination into the Japanese way of life (his wife, Masako, is Japanese-born) offer him a timely insight into concepts of maximum utilization of available space that are becoming increasingly relevant to the B.C. marketplace.
The moves to smaller, affordable units, laneway housing, secondary suites, greater densification along transit routes and the combination of residential and retail are all consumer-driven trends that can benefit from long-term Japanese experience, he said.
“Multigenerational housing is possible in Japan, but here we’re not used to having parents and grandparents living with us.”
Yet such developments make sense for the economics of the baby-boomer generation, he said.
“There are advantages in things like child care, and it also saves in commuting time, when you’re having to drive to other communities to pick up elderly parents.”
He also applauds the increasing trend toward mixed retail and residential developments, such as Morgan Crossing.
“These areas are created around transportation, and that takes away the dependence on vehicles.”
If the industry can focus on affordability of housing and efficient use of space, there will continue to be good opportunities for builders, Moody believes.
He returned to White Rock with his wife and sons Michael, 13, and David, 10, two years ago.
A former black-belt member of the White Rock Karate Club, Moody continues to be involved in the sport, but is also involved in his kids’ activities, including baseball, hockey, soccer, and piano.
“Both continue to speak Japanese, although we moved back also for their schooling.”
Ironically, he and his wife first met in White Rock at the old station building, now the museum, when it was being used for a karate class.
“She was studying English and was down at the station with a friend, and was curious to see just what kind of karate people here were doing,” he said.