Land Development Manager Randy Olson never knew how fond he would become of old oak trees when he started working for Neal Communities almost 15 years ago. There have been many occasions, he says, when Pat Neal has called him up and asked him to go out on a limb to save a precious piece of Florida’s natural landscape. And for Randy, that’s just another reason he loves his job.
Neal Communities has always taken pride in its environmental commitment throughout the stages of development. The company strives to preserve natural habitats by building award-winning environmentally sound communities – always working to integrate their homes peacefully with the environment.
Many of Neal Communities’ homes have the Florida Green Building Coalition certification. The Lakewood Ranch-based builder was named the Green Builder of the Year for five consecutive years beginning in 2013. The Florida Green Building Coalition also named Neal Communities the No. 1 builder out of 15 builders from years 2000-15.
Randy’s land development practices play a huge part in the firm’s accolades. “Randy represents the epitome of our culture at Neal Communities,” says Pat Neal, chairman of the board for the home building company. “He is hard-working, conscientious and dedicated to improving the community. During his time here he has made a tireless contribution to the community at large and to our company.”
Randy insists, however, that it is Pat who instilled these qualities in him and his team and emphasized the importance of doing the right thing when it comes to environmental situations they may encounter daily.
“I never know what Pat is going to say when he calls me, but I know it is going to make a huge positive difference in our business model,” says Randy.
Over the years, Randy has become very familiar with various environmental situations arising that have required his team to pivot at a moment’s notice. Recently at Grand Palm in Venice, Randy and his team were able to shift a drainage easement in order to save a large, mature oak tree. It was an enormous undertaking that delayed construction on a new phase but will preserve the tree in perpetuity. Grand Palm was the very first neighborhood to be built under Sarasota County Government’s 2050 plan, a resource management program that enhances the livability of the county by preserving natural, physical and cultural resources for managing growth.
These practices date back a long way at Neal Communities. Back in 2004 before construction began at the now sold-out Forest Creek community in Manatee County, another large beautiful oak tree laid in the path of the projected development area for the community. Pat, Randy and the entire land development team worked together with Manatee County officials to make the decision to preserve the tree by moving an entire road during the development process. Afterwards, the builder continued to care for the tree by trimming it, giving it biological treatments and fertilizing it. They also set aside acreage in the community as open space that would be preserved forever.
Even if it means hours of research and last-minute changes to plans, Neal Communities is constantly working to stay rooted in its commitment to preserve the environment. “It’s extremely rewarding to work for a family-owned and operated company with a culture of community service that starts from the top,” says Randy. “We truly hope that through our continued efforts, future generations will be able to enjoy the best of Florida’s natural landscape peacefully integrated with new home communities for years to come.”