In Remembrance of Walt Stoeppelwerth: The Godfather Of Remodeling To Many
On February 18th, 2013 Walt Stoeppelwerth passed away. Walt was the President of HomeTech Inc in Bethesda, MD for over thirty years. I have always been an admirer of Walt and all he did for me as well as our industry. Walt Stoeppelwerth's obituary only offers a small piece of what he did in his lifetime.
During my early years as a remodeler I observed that Walt made many predictions about the future of the remodeling industry. Those predictions included trends, challenges, shifts, business systems and methods of production. Many of his predictions came true. For a whole variety of reasons, other predictions may have been challenged by a lack of continuous development or adequate leadership within the industry. Regardless, Walt kept beating his drum about what our industry needed to keep top of mind. Until that is, he could no longer fend off the challenges of Alzheimer’s disease.
Walt help shape the Remodeling Industry
What I observed to be unique about Walt was that he not only predicted the future, he also participated in making it happen. I suggest he was a visionary with a unique ability to identify, fully understand and solve existing as well as future challenges within the industry. He would share his observations, speculate on the likely consequences if the challenges were not addressed, and suggest or predict the solutions he felt would address the challenges. His brilliance was his ability to then create and provide the required solutions, and, through his consulting, direct others who wanted to participate in making the evolution happen.
Although some feel such tactics might be self-serving, I disagree. It is my opinion that Walt was a truly caring person who loved and gave his best to the industry, always willing to help people. I think of him as a man who did and gave great things to the industry and the people he loved, and he found a way to be well paid while doing so. By being well paid, he could afford to keep doing what he did and, perhaps more important, he kept getting better at it! A good example for all of us to consider for our own businesses.
Walt was always up for a good debate about industry topics.
Fortunate for me, I got to have many of those debates with Walt. His purpose was never to prove anyone wrong or demonstrate his authority and knowledge. Rather I observed his purpose was to always gain additional understanding and insight from others, so he could then use what he learned to complement what he knew and in turn offer better solutions to those he worked with. I always left those debates with more knowledge and a greater understanding of each topic we explored. In many ways he was a mentor to me. I was and am still today honored to have taken his spot as a columnist for Remodeling magazine.
Carrying on Walt's example
From what I observed, Walt lived the value of continuous improvement. His business model was not reactive to the perceived and often misguided needs expressed by remodelers and industry partners, but rather proactive in creating and providing the solutions and the guidance remodelers and industry partners really needed to improve and foster true success.
In summary, Walt had the intimate knowledge, insight, creativity, resources, contacts, relationships and solutions to change the industry and cause tremendous social benefit at the same time.
When people feel better about themselves and their businesses, they listen and seek for more of what helped them. Additionally, many then share what they have and know with others with the hopes that they too will benefit. Walt was a master at setting that example and making it happen for so many remodelers.
I am grateful for his example and for all I learned from Walt. He may have left our industry, but he will never be forgotten. I know many of you feel the same way.
Please feel free to share your thoughts and memories about Walt and what he did for you and your business. I’m sure his family will be grateful to know.