The Florida Home Builders Association held its fall conference at the Casa Monica Hotel and Resort in Saint Augustine. Established in 1947, the Florida Home Builders Association is affiliated with the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and Florida’s local/regional homebuilder associations. FHBA, along with its affiliates, work to create the best possible economic and regulatory environment for members to succeed. FHBA has over 8,000 members throughout the state, and over 500 members in Charlotte and DeSoto.

TJ Thornberry, Thornberry Custom Builders was named the 2019 Florida Home Builders Association Builder of the Year

For over 20 years and counting in the construction industry, Thornberry works each and every job site making sure his customer’s needs are met. Taking a cue from his dad’s plumbing business, Thornberry has built his company through hard work and determination. As one of the leading builders in Charlotte County, he makes time to diligently serve the Charlotte-DeSoto Building Industry Association (CDBIA), FHBA, and National Association of Home Builders since 2006.

His belief, that it’s extremely important to be highly involved and hold a stake in the community where you work and live, has set the path for him to serve the CDBIA in leadership roles culminating as 2007 Builder of the Year, committee chairman, and president in 2009. His FHBA commitments have also lead him to volunteer in the association as area vice president, a member of the executive committee as secretary, and is in line to become FHBA’s 68th president. Thornberry’s commitment to excellence helped create and establish the Florida Certified Master Builder program.

“The FHBA is proud to recognize TJ for his outstanding career accomplishments,” said Rusty Payton, FHBA CEO/Chief Lobbyist. “Under his leadership, he has not only helped establish a the Florida Certified Master Builder program, but is also a staunch advocate for its purpose within the industry. He is a true leader in the building industry and we applaud him.”

Joe Ernst, Lori Swindell Insurance Agency was named the 2019 Associate of the Year and the 2019 Young Building Professional of the Year

Selected by a council of industry leaders, the Associate of the Year award encourages best practices, expertise, and exceptional leadership qualities. FHBA associate members are partners either engaged in the trade industry, or a profession related to building in Florida. Established in 2019, the Young Building Professional award recognizes young building industry professionals who propel their careers; advance in local, state, and national associations; advocate for the building industry; engage with peers; and embed themselves as exceptional members of their communities.

During Ernst’s 10-year associate membership, he has progressed from member, to board member, and in 2019 achieving the role of President of the Manatee-Sarasota Building Industry Association (MSBIA). Among his many voluntary efforts within the association, he spearheaded and is a founding member of the Young Building Professionals Council for MSBIA, FHBA, and National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). He currently serves as chair for the FHBA Council, and is second vice chair of NAHB’s Council.

Although Ernst has only recently been engaged with the FHBA, it has not slowed his passion for the organization. He has participated in numerous councils and committees, served as Board member, and quickly became FHBA’s Area VI’s Associate Vice President.

His greatest dedication to promoting the industry can be seen in his advocacy of the Southeast Building Conference (SEBC), which is hosted by FHBA. Ernst routinely engages his employer, customers, and colleagues to have them attend SEBC; an education and expo show that he strongly believes is a necessity to grow a successful business within the building industry.

“The energy and enthusiasm Joe brings in support of the industry is contagious,” said Rusty Payton, FHBA CEO/Chief Lobbyist. “He is never satisfied with status quo and is truly an ardent supporter of the home building industry. We are proud to recognize Joe for his outstanding career accomplishments.”

Bill Truex, Truex Preferred Construction was recognized as the recipient of the inaugural Hurricane Award

The recipient of this award is given to a member of the FHBA who provides leadership through a natural disaster. Bill Truex’s leadership after Hurricane Michael devastated the Panhandle helped bring trucks of donations from all over the State of Florida to those affected by the storm.

Robyn Bonaquist, B-Squared Advertising was honored with the FHBA Eagle Award

The Eagle Award is chosen by the president of FHBA. Robyn’s hard work and leadership as the chairperson of the Southeast Building Conference was recognized.

Gina Carlson was honored with the Dick Baker Award.

Gina’s husband Jay Carlson was a leader in the building industry. He helped wherever he was needed. Gina supported her husband who supported the industry. The Dick Baker Award is named in the honor of the Northeast Florida BA past president who demonstrated incredible courage and a fighting spirit while suffering from the disease that claimed his life. The award recognizes individuals who showed the same remarkable resolve in dealing with life’s adversities. The award is appointed by the FHBA president and CEO/chief lobbyist and is announced at the Fall Leadership Conference.


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