Job Title:Vice-president, Kimberley Homes and Communities
Why He’s a Top 40: For ignoring the recession and helping build dreams for homeowners and communities
Steve Ruggiero saw it coming – a housing bubble about to burst – so he decided to be “bold while others were fearful” and helped lead Kimberley Homes through the dreaded economic downturn with spectacular results.
“This is turning into one of the best years we’ve ever had,” declares the dynamic 29-year-old general manager and vice president of the company, citing the fact that July and August, traditionally slow months, were the best in the company’s 20-year history. He’s one of many local entrepreneurs who can be overheard to say, “Recession? What recession?”
When talking about Avenue’s Top 40 Under 40 changing the landscape of the city, Ruggiero did it quite literally. Thanks to an aggressive land deal at the right time, there is now a spiffy new 68-lot community in Ambleside where otherwise there would have been an ugly field of empty lots waiting for the market to turn around.
Not bad for a vocation Ruggiero just “fell into.” He seemed to be on his way to a career as an educator, holding degrees in both physical education and education from the University of Alberta. But teaching jobs were scarce. One day over beers with his father-in-law, Kimberley’s president, he was offered a six-month contract working in software and computers. He fell in love with the building trade and never looked back. “I would never, ever lie: this business can be very financially rewarding,” Ruggiero says. “But for me, I love giving customers the keys and seeing their dreams come true. We’re not building houses. We’re building homes.”
It’s a clich, but he really believes it – a good attitude when you’re dealing with semi-custom and custom homes on a regular basis in what used to be a farmer’s field the last time you drove by.
Ruggiero sits on construction boards and city committees too numerous to mention. His volunteer work not only serves Edmonton’s large building community, he says, but also himself – he won’t get blindsided by some building code wrinkle, for instance, which means his customers won’t, either. He says these happy new homeowners are the main reason Kimberley was named 2009 Builder of the Year by the Canadian Home Builders’ Association – Edmonton Region.