Leadership

We Salute The Life Of Game-Changer Gerry McCaughey: RIP

Gerard McCaughey, who died this week after an illness at the age of 64, took personally a self-anointed role as a crusader for improvement, evolution, and potential impact homebuilders should expect of themselves.

Leadership

We Salute The Life Of Game-Changer Gerry McCaughey: RIP

Gerard McCaughey, who died this week after an illness at the age of 64, took personally a self-anointed role as a crusader for improvement, evolution, and potential impact homebuilders should expect of themselves.

October 19th, 2023
We Salute The Life Of Game-Changer Gerry McCaughey: RIP
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It was the phone call you don't ever want. 2:30 am or so local time in Amsterdam, and your mobile rings. It was mid-April, the "cruelest month," and a phone call at that hour could never be good news.

It was Gerry McCaughey, with news that Entekra, his 2016 offsite construction, engineering, design, and assembly platform, would be shuttered within 90 days.

He wept as he spoke. He took the news personally. And like anything and everything with Gerry, the emotion and passion he felt for this labor-of-love endeavor poured out in abundance. He fretted for the Entrekra team members in both the U.S. and Monaghan, Ireland, on whose backs six years of meteoric growth and fleeting, elusive signals of breakthrough success got their best shot.

He also felt shock, loss, and fear for homebuilding in America itself, for in his mind, heart, and soul, Entekra stood as a proof case. Homebuilding could be smarter, more modern, higher quality, less wasteful, and – most importantly – more widely attainable to people whose household incomes come nowhere close to what it takes these days to finance a ground-up home in most markets.

Gerard McCaughey, who died this week after an illness at the age of 64, took personally this self-anointed role as a crusader for all of the improvement, evolution, and potential impact homebuilders should expect of themselves.

An obituary in The Irish Times, by Ellen O'Regan, notes:

'His business motto was "persistence beats resistance" and he applied it with vigour to every venture he was involved in. His passion was infectious and you couldn’t but be excited when you worked on a project with him. He loved business and seeing people succeed. He was always generous with his time and mentored and advised many whom he got to know through his long career,' Mr [Jack Murray, chief executive of MediaHQ and former PR consultant for Century Homes] said."

He was, above all – and this is coming from one who loved him as a friend, cheered for him as a businessman, took inspiration and motivation from him as a change-maker, and received enormous support from him personally and professionally in ways that go beyond words – in the belief business.

He believed, like his father Brian before him, that homebuilding could be both different and better. Better for people who need and want homes, better for the communities they're in, and better for the businesses that grow up around that need and opportunity and challenge.

We wrote in 2018, at the dawn of Entekra's operations:

After a two-year migratory stint from Ireland to the United States in 1957, McCaughey’s father, Brian, returned to his homeland and introduced timber-frame home building to Ireland, which up to that point had been dominated by concrete block-built homes. Brian McCaughey started a company in 1965, and all three of his children took up home building in one way or another. The McCaugheys sold the 8,000-homes-a-year Century Homes to United Kingdom–based building materials giant Kingspan in 2005 for 100 million Euro (nine-plus times EBIT), and they’re starting from square one in the U.S., but with 50 years of business validation in some of the world’s most regulated jurisdictions. From Ireland, Brian McCaughey shared in the August moment of jubilance via text: “Here we go again! Full circle.”
... “People told my dad, ‘You’ll never sell a wood frame house in Ireland,’ and look what he did,” says McCaughey. “They tell us now, ‘This is California, the regulations here, etc.’ and they’re skeptical, but look at Ireland and Europe. They’re more regulated than anywhere. We were exporting wood frame houses to Japan, for God’s sake. We’ve been here before.”

The belief system Gerry McCaughey crusaded for in new-home construction's slow push toward modernization – around the nation and around the world – was a holistic one.

If it's not a whole system, it's not a solution," he'd say in almost every one of the many many conversations we had over the years.

Gerry McCaughey struck me – and I'd tell others so – as a force of nature. The first time we ever talked in early 2016, I rang his cell to ask him to take part in an annual business conference with the presidents, CEOs, and key strategists of the nation's largest homebuilding enterprises.

He said, "yes," immediately to the invitation. And 90 minutes later, he was still talking about how much they had to learn from him, and why it was the perfect moment for them to do just that.

Many of those on the speakers' circuit in housing, crusading for transformation, innovation, improvement, and impact that will make homes more accessible to more people find themselves "preaching to the converted."

Unapologetically, fearlessly, and forcefully, and – ultimately – toward the cause of homebuilder teams' progress towards becoming their best selves, Gerard McCaughey preached to the skeptical, the ones who demanded "show me," and the ones who don't listen.

In March of this year, Gerry McCaughey peeked out from the fray of the everyday work of persuading those folks to reflect for just a moment on what he and the Entekra team managed to accomplish. We wrote:

The biggest challenge was to get an entire community of homebuilders whose reflexive first-response to the Entekra model was "we've tried it before and it didn't work," to try it again because it could work.
In a sense, the legitimacy and proof-case Entekra achieved with a thrust of velocity and resolve played a big part in bringing advanced framing and offsite construction to a national tipping point, back into realistic focus as a multivariate solution to several chronic home construction challenges: affordability, productivity, labor constraint, materials waste, durability and resilience, and – importantly – business success.
'I am so proud of the achievements that the team at ENTEKRA have made, since entering the US market. In a very short period of time, we have proven, that there is a better, higher quality, more sustainable, way to build.
Only a few short years ago, when I put this team together, I knew I was assembling one of the most talented, knowledgeable and experienced teams, in off-site construction worldwide, as I had worked with them all before, as we built Europe's largest off-site company.'

Our humble prayers join others' for Gerry's family members and loved ones in the U.S. and Ireland. We will miss him although we celebrate an impact and achievement that will outlive us all.

According to The Irish Times:

Gerard McCaughey is survived by his wife Sophie McCaughey, his four children, his mother Theresa McCaughey and his sister and brother."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John McManus

John McManus

President and Founder

John McManus, founder and president of The Builder’s Daily, is an award-winning editorial, programming, and digital content strategist. TBD's purpose is a community capable of constant improvement.

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John McManus

John McManus

President and Founder

John McManus, founder and president of The Builder’s Daily, is an award-winning editorial, programming, and digital content strategist. TBD's purpose is a community capable of constant improvement.

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