Honoring Our Founding Builders

Celebrating Historic American Landmarks

As we gather with family and friends this Independence Day, it’s important to remember the foundations of our nation’s freedom—not just the principles and battles, but the very structures that symbolize our independence. For those considering a future in construction, understanding the legacy of America’s iconic buildings and monuments offers valuable insights into how builders have shaped our nation.

Independence Hall: The Birthplace of Freedom

Independence Hall is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where both the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution were debated and adopted. Construction of this historic building began in 1732 and was completed in 1753. The structure, designed in Georgian style, features a brick facade, a wooden steeple, and a bell tower that once housed the Liberty Bell.

Independence Hall is a testament to early American builders’ skilled labor and craftsmanship. The hall’s enduring presence reminds us of the pivotal moments that took place within its walls, laying the groundwork for the freedoms we enjoy today.

The Washington Monument: A Tribute to Leadership

Standing tall in Washington, D.C., the Washington Monument honors George Washington, the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army and the first President of the United States. Completed in 1884, this iconic obelisk reaches a height of 555 feet and is constructed from marble, granite, and bluestone gneiss.

The monument’s construction was a massive undertaking, showcasing the ingenuity and determination of the builders of that era. The structure faced numerous challenges, including funding issues and the Civil War, yet it stands today as a symbol of leadership and perseverance. Future construction workers can draw inspiration from the builders who overcame these obstacles to create a landmark that continues to captivate and inspire.

The Statue of Liberty: Welcoming the World

France gifted the Statue of Liberty to the United States in 1886. It stands on Liberty Island in New York Harbor as a symbol of freedom and democracy. Designed by French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and built by Gustave Eiffel, the statue is made of copper and iron and stands 305 feet from the ground to the tip of the torch.

The construction of the Statue of Liberty was a marvel of engineering and international collaboration. The statue’s internal framework and external cladding required precision and expertise, exemplifying the high standards of construction that future builders can aspire to. The statue not only represents America’s ideals but also the remarkable achievements of those who brought it to life.

Mount Rushmore: Carving History into Stone

Located in the Black Hills of South Dakota, Mount Rushmore features the carved faces of four U.S. presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. This colossal project, led by sculptor Gutzon Borglum, began in 1927 and was completed in 1941. The construction involved dynamite blasting and intricate finishing work, highlighting the diverse skills required in construction.

Mount Rushmore serves as a powerful example of how construction can immortalize history and leadership. The dedication and precision of the workers who carved these faces into the mountain inspire future builders to take pride in their craft and understand the impact of their work on future generations.

The Legacy of American Builders

The construction of these landmarks required vision, skill, and an unwavering commitment to excellence. As future construction workers, it’s crucial to recognize the contributions of those who came before us. Their work laid the physical foundations of our nation and created symbols that embody the American spirit.

By learning about the construction and significance of these historic landmarks, we gain a deeper appreciation for the role of builders in our society. This Independence Day, let’s honor our founding builders and strive to continue their legacy of excellence in construction, ensuring that our contributions will stand the test of time and inspire future generations.

HBI Is Proud To Continue Building The American Dream

HBI is proud to continue building the American Dream by training the next generation of skilled workers who uphold the values of quality, dedication, and innovation in construction. Through comprehensive education and hands-on experience, HBI empowers individuals to contribute to the nation’s growth and prosperity, ensuring that the legacy of excellence in building endures.

As we celebrate Independence Day, remember the monumental efforts of the builders who helped shape our nation. Their legacy is not only in the structures they left behind but also in the inspiration they provide to future generations of construction workers. By honoring these historic American landmarks, we pay tribute to the enduring spirit of craftsmanship and dedication that continues to build our nation’s future.

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MARIO GONZALEZ
Vice President of Workforce Training & Employment
Mario joined HBI as a Regional Career Development Coordinator of HBI’s Military Services in 2019 and was promoted to Associate Vice President of WTE Community & Corrections Programs in 2022.
 
Now serving as Vice president of WTE (2024), he oversees the daily operations of HBI’s WTE Community & Corrections, Military Services, & Academies programs, working with partners to advance HBI’s expansion and enhance job placement opportunities for graduates. Mario serves as the liaison between HBI and external stakeholders to include military installations. He ensures successful outcomes for HBI graduates from transitioning service members & veterans to justice involved adults & youths. Internally, he provides strategic operational perspective to HBI’s senior leadership team.
 
Prior to joining HBI, Mario served for 21 years in the U.S. Army across multiple locations globally & nationally and has an MBA from Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville, TN.
 
Mario resides in Tennessee with his wife and children and spends time in Texas where his mother, adult children, and grandchildren reside. He enjoys the outdoors and serving in his community. 
JOSEPH F. LANDERS
Executive Officer of the Home Builders and Remodelers Association of Massachusetts

Joseph F. Landers, 71, is the Executive Officer of the Home Builders and Remodelers Association of Massachusetts having assumed that role in 2018 with a mandate from the Board of Directors to harmonize the five MA local associations, increase communications from the state to the membership, increase the public profile of the association, create a path to financial stability and elevate the states lobbying efforts. Prior to taking on the challenging state association role, Joe was Chief Executive Officer and founder of Customized Structures Inc., a custom manufacturer of single-family, multi-family and commercial modular and panelized structures which began operations in 1984. Joe has been involved in the building industry, both site-built and factory-built, since 1973 and has worked in all phases of construction from development through design and production including on site management and sales. Customized Structures produced on average 330 single family homes per year, had an employee base as high as 180 and was known as the innovator in the production and design of modular components.

 

After the sale of Customized Structures Inc. to a private equity firm in 2003 Joe remained on the Board of Directors of the Company and functioned as a consultant to the CEO. He further took on the role of helping failing building systems companies return to profitability and successfully oversaw the sale of those companies. Mr. Landers has lectured frequently on the benefits and utilization of systems-built construction to building professionals around the country and has utilized his substantial professional and industry background to provide consultation services to both national and foreign companies interested in the processes and pitfalls of building and developing utilizing building systems components.

Joe attended Northeastern University and St. Anselm’s College graduating with a B.S. in 1972. 

Joe has been a member of the National Association of Home Builders since 1974. He is past president of two local Home Builders Associations and has served two terms as President of the  State of NH Home Builders Association. Joe is also a past president of the Modular Building  Systems Council of the NAHB, has been Chairman of the National Building Systems Council (BSC)  and has served five terms as a Trustee of the BSC during which time he created the BSC logo and  wrote the brochure “Most Frequently Asked Questions about Modular Homes”. 

In 1989, Joe received the National Pacesetter Award in recognition of his outstanding leadership  and contribution to the housing industry and in 1991 was awarded the title of Builder of the Year  by the Home Builders Association of N.H. In 1992 he was appointed by the Governor to the NH  Board of Fire Control within the Department of Safety and since then was reappointed three times.  He has served as a member on the State of New Hampshire Building Code Review Board and was  appointed by the Governor of NH to the Shore Land Protection Commission. Joe was selected to  receive the 2000 S. A. Walters Chairman’s Award, the premier award in the U.S. Systems Built  Housing Industry and was installed to the New Hampshire Housing Hall of Fame for his significant  and lasting contributions to the housing industry in the State of New Hampshire.  

Joe is a Senior Life Director of the National Association of Home Builders; he is served six terms on the NAHB Budget & Finance Committee serving as Vice Chair for four of those years, he has served  as Chairman of the Resolutions Committee, the International Housing Committee and the Building  Products Issues Committee of NAHB serving on the NAHB Executive Committee multiple times. 

In 2001 Joe was elected an Area Vice President of the National Association of Home Builders  representing builders through out the northeast. 

Joe is active in his community having served as finance chairmen of his church, is a member of the  International Order of Odd Fellows, and has served on multiple boards and committees on a  volunteer basis.  

Joe and his wife, Denise, reside in Plymouth, MA, they have two children, Jessica and Brad and two  grandchildren, Lily and Jack ages 13 and 11.

Seth Appleton
President of U.S. Mortgage Insurers

The Honorable Seth Appleton is President of U.S. Mortgage Insurers. In this role, he leads USMI’s efforts to enable sustainable access to affordable mortgage credit for borrowers while protecting taxpayers. Seth previously served as President of MISMO, the real estate finance industry’s standards organization. Prior to that, Seth served as the Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD),
a position for which he was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate. In addition to his service as Assistant Secretary, Seth concurrently served as the Principal Executive Vice President of Ginnie Mae, a government corporation guaranteeing the timely payment of
principal and interest on more than $2 trillion in mortgage-backed securities.


Before joining HUD, Seth worked on Capitol Hill, including serving as Chief of Staff for U.S. Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer for more than eight years. A native of Missouri, Seth is a graduate of Stanford University and is a co-chair of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Housing Council.

Zach Harris Story Card - HBI Build Strong Academy New Orleans Graduate