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Omaha Magazine

Mentoring the Next Generation of Builders: Charleston Homes’ Marc and Heidi Stodola

May 26, 2020 08:44AM ● By Linda Persigehl

Marc Stodola strongly believes that the building trades—such as bricklaying, carpentry, and metalwork—can offer a fulfilling and lucrative career for many of today’s youth.

“Not everyone is meant to go to college, so we’re trying to educate our youth that there are viable options for jobs in the construction field,” said Stodola, president and owner of Charleston Homes. “There’s a tremendous amount of opportunities…whether you go to college for a construction management/technology degree or a trade school.”

Founded in 2007, Charleston Homes employs 24 people and builds ranch-style, 1½-story, and 2-story homes in the $250,000-$400,000 range in neighborhoods across the metro. 

A recent report by the Associated General Contractors of America showed that 70% of construction companies nationwide are struggling to find enough workers. That is one reason why, for the past several years, Stodola and Charleston Homes’ staff have worked with the Builders of the Future program, whose mission is “to locate, encourage, and educate the next generation of construction trade specialists.” Builders Foundation, which sponsors the program, collaborates with local high schools and other organizations to teach teens construction skills through mentoring and hands-on projects.

Stodola became involved with Builders of the Future through his affiliation with Metro Omaha Builders Association, a construction industry nonprofit and one of the foundation’s partners, along with Avenue Scholars Foundation and Metro Community College. 

“Through our partnership with Builders and Elkhorn [High School], we’ve built a storage shed for the baseball team at their stadium,” Stodola said. “We have an employee with a connection to EHS, and we like to stand behind our employees and what’s important to them. We also have a relationship with the principal and staff there. And we live [in Elkhorn].

“Some of our biggest projects have been for Skutt High School, where our kids attended,” Stodola continued. “We built an arch there in 2013 and a ticket booth at the entrance in 2016 on their grounds.”

The past two years, Stodola’s team has worked with Bellevue West High School, helping students in its CAD IV and Construction II classes design and build a brick and metal entrance arch for their recently renovated baseball complex. (Lyman-Richey Corp., Sign It, Fireplace Stone & Patio, and Bender Ornamental also contributed to the project.)

Joe Nadgwick, skilled and technical sciences teacher at Bellevue West, said Stodola also brought in Bellevue city inspectors and planning directors to speak to students on the process of buying land, developing a neighborhood, code enforcement, and construction of homes. BWHS students had planned to visit Charleston Homes’ worksites before schools were closed due to COVID-19, he added. 

“I have known Marc for a few years now, and he is a very professional, personable, and kind-hearted person who really gives of his time to others,” Nadgwick said. “The students at Bellevue West are very grateful…We look forward to working with him and Charleston Homes in the future.”

Helping schools is one of Stodola’s favorite projects. “By bringing real life experiences into the classroom and schools, we are supporting the teachers by giving them an extra tool to help educate students,” he said. “Supporting teachers is important, as both of my parents were teachers. My father was my mentor. My summers during high school were spent painting or roofing houses with my dad. He thought getting my hands dirty and doing hard work was one of the best forms of education.”

Marc and wife Heidi Stodola, advertising and marketing manager for Charleston Homes, have also built great relationships with several other Omaha nonprofits. One group the Stodolas are committed to is Habitat for Humanity. “For the past nine years, we’ve worked with Habitat in some way,” Heidi said. “The last few, we worked with the Elkhorn coalition on a build doing general contracting or donating materials.

“We’ve installed wood floors and cabinets and countertops…One year, we donated an entire house, from the foundation to the entire build, then had the fun of handing it over to [the new owners] with no debt,” Marc added. “All of our vendors and contractors contributed to it. It was a group effort.”

Summarized Marc: “We’re always open…When you see someone in need, particularly someone you have a relationship with, you help.”

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This article was printed in the June 2020 issue of B2B Magazine.