Chip Devine, senior vice president and chief operating officer, Housing & Land Development for Brookfield Residential
There are some companies—and some people—who have been such an integral part of the industry and HomeAid’s story that it seems as though they’ve always been there. Chip Devine, senior vice president and chief operating officer, Housing & Land Development for Brookfield Residential, is one such person, and Brookfield Residential is one such company. A decades-long veteran of the industry, Chip and his colleagues at Brookfield have been quietly supporting HomeAid since 2008, both as a Builder Captain and a constant at our events, ranging from the Builders & Friends BBQ to golf tournaments to the Gala. The ultimate behind-the-scenes partner, Chip and Brookfield epitomize what it means to partner for the greater good. Read on to find out how Chip got his start in the industry and why HomeAid became part of the company’s giving circle.
Q: How did Brookfield make the initial connection with HomeAid, and why did the company choose to become involved?
A: We found out about HomeAid through our involvement with NVBIA. Choosing to get involved was easy. Giving back is so important, and it’s really part of our company philosophy to never forget that. We are all very lucky where we are in life, and it only makes good sense to give back and help out those who haven’t been as fortunate. One of our first projects was helping renovate a shelter in Prince William County for women and children who escaped domestic violence. It’s the kind of project that really sticks with you.
Q: What do you personally enjoy most about working with HomeAid?
A: As a builder creating communities all around the metropolitan D.C. area, we love having the opportunity to give back to those communities in which we build. The opportunity to leverage our connections in the building industry to provide the most value for HomeAid Northern Virginia’s projects is also very satisfying—I really enjoy interacting with some of the other industry veterans who have been involved with HomeAid for as long as we have. It’s also always fun to reconnect at projects or at events, and it makes staying involved in between projects an important reason for our ongoing support too.
Most recently, we partnered up with three other builders on a renovation of a small apartment building in Alexandria owned by Community Lodgings. This project was especially memorable because these other builders are usually the ones we’re bidding against or competing against generally in the industry, so the opportunity to put that aside and establish camaraderie for the greater good was an experience I won’t forget. It’s a really satisfying feeling.
Q: Why should a builder join HomeAid’s network?
A: It’s always good to give back to those in need. Joining Home Aid and participating in its projects is a relatively easy way to accomplish this goal. As builders, we are able to use our connections to suppliers and subcontractors to create the biggest benefit for HomeAid Northern Virginia, their partners, and the clients they serve. It’s also extremely rewarding to create or renovate physical structures that you know will go to good use from day one.
Q: How did you get into the homebuilding industry? What do you think you’ll be most proud of when you look back on that career?
A: I started in the industry at age 13, for Pulte, in Potomac, Maryland—its only project outside of Detroit, Michigan. My parents were the second family to move in, and I started mowing lawns for Pulte. I worked for them through college, where I majored in building construction and architecture, and continued working for them summers. When I got my license, I worked as a “gopher” deliverer, and then next took care of their model homes. They next asked me if I wanted to learn construction, and I soon found myself 35 feet below grade in a sewer that needed to be cleared, and I joked, ‘It’s a long way up from here.’
After college, I went into commercial real estate, and then into building custom homes with a partner for three years. I went out on my own next, building custom homes again, for three years, and although it was a great learning experience, it wasn’t right. So, I went to NVR for several years with Dwight Schar and Bill Moran, where I started as assistant superintendent and left eight years later as vice president of construction. And for the last 28 years, I’ve been with Brookfield, minus one sabbatical year with Pulte to help them with Stone Ridge by Pulte. Throughout my career, I’ve worked in suburban Maryland and D.C.
Unquestionably, when I look back on my career, I think of the people. Those relationships will be my legacy. This is a people business, and yes, the building and design and architecture is fun, but it’s the getting along with people, understanding them and their perspectives—that’s what really matters. We treat our trade partners incredibly well, and they treat us well in return. We don’t have labor issues as a result; we really foster that relationship. Working with people is a core philosophy that’s carried through my own career.