Hearthstone Award winner, Toll Brothers Group President Chris Gaffney

The key measure of success among home builders, of course, is an organization's ability to produce more economic value with fewer resources. Still, what courses through the veins of so many of the home building companies--large and small--that we cover is a reason-for-being that goes beyond economic profitability.

Wise people, profit-motivated people, believe that one day, a key performance indicator of a company's success as a business will not consist of how much money it can extract from its customers vs. the cost of goods or services it markets. Instead, we'll measure the success of a business model based on how much an organization's market strategies allow it to pour resources--time, talent, generosity, money, and produced items--back into society and the planet.

We're seeing a sneak preview of such a day in the work of people like Chris Gaffney, group president at Toll Brothers, who awakens each day and goes to sleep each night knowing that his life's work is not merely his highly successful career at Toll, but what that career allows him to give to others beyond Toll.

Chris and his years of enormous commitment to, belief in, support of, and work for Covenant House, a national organization that serves homeless youths, or kids in crisis, have given him, his immediate blood family, and the Toll Brothers community a meaningful tie between career and purpose.

Chris' achievements, as you can see from this series of videos, go beyond what words can express. What raises them to another level is the sheer contrast between the energy and impact of his efforts and the humility with which he carries them out.

This is why Chris's work--which has contagiously drawn in his wife and children, his colleagues, and his community in the Philadelphia area--distinguishes itself as a clear choice this year for the 2016 Hearthstone Humanitarian Award, presented annually by BUILDER magazine.

Here's a little more from our upcoming press announcement today:

Chris Gaffney has been working with Covenant House for six years, transforming the lives of hundreds of young people from the despair of the street. Gaffney has inspired a movement by recruiting friends and colleagues while he also gave hope and opportunity to hundreds of young children. His tireless commitment included roles on the board and various committees, ultimately resulting in improved financial health for the organization.

Gaffney strives to provide hands on contact in order to convey a critical message to the Covenant House family. His ongoing efforts speak to both the tangible and intangible needs of the children that Covenant serves. He has spent nearly forty hours a week working at Covenant House in addition to his responsibilities at Toll Brothers, arriving there before he goes to the office and calling potential donors at night after the work day. His passion not only is embraced by the children he’s helping, but also by his colleagues. Recently, he organized a record setting fundraising event that in one night raised $286,000 and that also put the mission of the organization into the hands of many new and passionate ambassadors.

Gaffney was selected by a panel of top industry leaders with experience in humanitarian outreach:

  • Frank Anton, Vice Chairman of Hanley Wood (BUILDER’s parent company);
  • Mark Porath, CEO of Hearthstone;
  • Bert Selva, CEO of Shea Homes; and
  • Larry Webb, CEO of The New Home Co.
  • Dan Ryan, CEO of Dan Ryan Homes

Eight other nominations for this year's awards detail stories that tear your heart out insofar as the amount of pain, anguish, need, and despair, home building individuals and firms work day and night to offer help, money, time, talent, and, more often that not, homes, to somehow put hope into an otherwise dismal equation for so many.

This seems to be in the DNA of home builders, a desire not just to build and sell homes, but to help develop, design, and engineer a shelter of hope where there may not be any.

We'll be following Chris Gaffney's story in further detail over the next several weeks, and we'll be offering him, and his team--the Gaffneys and the Toll Brothers organization--a shout out at the Housing Leadership Summit awards ceremony on May 16 in Laguna Niguel.

If you've never been at a Hearthstone award moment, you're missing something. There are few instances in the industry that so powerfully speak to why you work so hard at doing what you do.

Gaffney's purpose expresses itself in excelling in the workplace so that he can give his heart, soul, time, and presence to the young teens who'd otherwise might have no one going to bat for them in life. It's pretty powerful.