Profiles on emerging young professionals in the local home building industry
Since we started our “Next Wave” series in 2017, time and time again I’ve been impressed by the young professionals from the local home building industry that I’ve interviewed. I’ve been so struck that every one of them has emphasized how important the people around them are—that without the support of their coworkers, business partners or employees they wouldn’t be as successful as they are today. It’s a testament to how grounded they are and the value they place on teamwork, which is vital in this industry. These are individuals that go after what they want and are always seeking growth, both professionally and personally, and I can’t help but feel inspired to do the same after our conversations.
Our HOME Annual 2019 class, if you will, of The Next Wave is no different. As you read their stories on the following pages, I hope you’re just as inspired by these five standout, enthusiastic leaders and their already remarkable careers. And regardless of your profession, you’ll learn something valuable from the fresh perspectives they share.
Andrea Baerenwald: Cape Associates
“Don’t be afraid to move around in different industries and see what speaks to you. I certainly did that in my career—I’ve worked for a magazine, I’ve worked for a design firm. And when you’re young that’s the perfect time to do it.”
As she reflects on her now five years as director of marketing for Cape Associates, Andrea Baerenwald recognizes just how valuable a strong relationship can be. Her job is one that requires her to build and maintain relationships for the good of the company, both within the home building industry and the local community. As important as those relationships are to Baerenwald’s success, what’s equally as important is the relationship she shares with Cape Associates.
“What has helped me most here is that [owner] Matt Cole and his team have really put their trust in me,” Baerenwald explains. “If I have an idea, they really listen and even help me work through it, giving advice, and I’ve been able to do things that I haven’t done before and that Cape Associates hasn’t done before. That supportive environment has helped both the company and my abilities to grow.”
It was Baerenwald’s suggestion two years ago that the company invest in a drone to better capture their high-end projects. “We were one of the only companies on Cape Cod that had a drone,” she says. “I’m trying to do a lot with video right now, which we’ve only dabbled in previously.” For Cape Associates’ annual dinner last year, Baerenwald utilized video to show the company’s appreciation for its employees, putting together a thank-you package that featured nearly every employee, depicting them at work in their respective roles. The video, which will also be used to recruit future employees, won the firm a Gold 2018 PRISM Award for Best Video. “I feel it was a great way to celebrate everyone’s hard work,” Baerenwald says. “They would cheer when they saw themselves on the big screens. It was fun.”
For Baerenwald, it’s Cape Associates’ core values—commitment, quality and integrity—that guide her, as evidenced by her marketing campaigns and her professionalism. “There’s always more to learn, both in building and marketing,” she says, “and I feel like the sky’s the limit with opportunities for myself here. I do have a bit of an entrepreneurial spirit, and Cape Associates feeds that and allows me to explore that, which is very satisfying.”
Josh Linder: e v o l v e | RESIDENTIAL
“Find someone—even if it’s someone that has their own firm—that you can sit down with and bounce ideas off of to really push yourself to try new things and to go for the thing that feels a little risky but ultimately is going to end in a much more exciting and sophisticated space.”
To evolve is to change. To change for the better, that is, to grow and to realize new potential. To designer Josh Linder, evolution is exciting, and it’s the driving force behind his work.
“I love to start a project first as an artist,” Linder says. “What that means is when I walk into a space, if a client suggests a concept that’s a conventional approach to either the way the furniture is placed or the way that the spaces are painted, my first thought is to step back and think about an opportunity to achieve the same thing but in a new way. How can we turn this upside down a little bit and shake it around? I’m always trying to create something that feels special and unique.”
For his Boston-based interior design firm, e v o l v e | RESIDENTIAL, the idea of evolution extends to the collaboration he shares with his business partners, Thomas Egan III and Rebecca Abrams. “We as partners are constantly bouncing ideas off of each other,” Linder says, “and are instrumental in pushing each other to go for something that might be a little out of any one of our individual comfort zones. Together we unite to push each other past that point.” In turn, this serves to benefit their clients, who get the best out of the design experience. “It’s so important to us at the end of the day that people know e v o l v e really is there to create something beautiful and stands behind what they create.”
What Linder and his partners create are vibrantly sophisticated spaces, sumptuous in color and texture and demanding of attention. “I think the signature thread that runs through all of our projects is that they are a mix of styles, whether that’s old and new or a mixture of multiple styles that creates something new, even in a traditional space,” says Linder. “We love to approach each new project almost as if it’s a film set, and then we’re like, what’s the next movie we’re going to create?”
See the work of e v o l v e | RESIDENTIAL on Instagram @evolveresidential
Katelyn Manfredo: SV Design
“Be open to new opportunities; you don’t know where they’re coming from. I saw an opportunity and I took it. There are really great possibilities out there, and if you take risks, you can really go far.”
Self-awareness is quite an asset in life. Four years ago, Katelyn Manfredo realized she felt a bit stuck at work, recognizing that feeling was stemming from her talents going underutilized.
Manfredo began her career at SV Design (formerly Siemasko + Verbridge) as an intern in their Beverly office while studying at Wentworth Institute of Technology. Having loved working alongside the company’s passionate young professionals, it was an easy “yes” for Manfredo when the firm eventually offered her a full-time position as a draftsperson. After receiving her architectural license, Manfredo says she knew it was time to make a change. “In Beverly it was a little harder to grow at the time, because they didn’t really need another project manager—they needed draftspeople. So when they opened their Chatham office, I saw the opportunity of a project manager role there,” she explains. “I started having some conversations with [founding principals] Thaddeus Siemasko and Jean Verbridge, explaining to them how I felt that I was overqualified for the position I was working in and that I wanted to do more.”
They agreed, and Manfredo has now served as an architectural project manager in the Chatham office for over three years. “I think if you’re not speaking up, whether you’re asking to do more or asking for help on how to do more and grow professionally in your career—if you’re not advocating for yourself, you can very easily get stuck where you are,” she says. Today, Manfredo feels truly fulfilled. While working in a leadership role in this industry presents its daily challenges, for Manfredo it’s all worth it when she sees clients overjoyed with their new space. “Hearing that enthusiasm in their voice is addicting.”
As Manfredo details a modern house in Chatham she and her team are currently designing for, the gleam in her eyes speaks volumes. “Every day is different, and every client and contractor is different. Going into every day being like, what’s today got for me… It’s exciting,” she says. “I’m definitely in the right spot and doing exactly what I should be doing. I feel that every day.”
Ryan Newton: C.H. Newton Builders
“Don’t get too caught up and overwhelmed with the idea of success. Just find something that you enjoy doing, and that’s successful in and of itself.”
Growing up with a family business to your name, there might be pressure to follow in the footsteps of the generations before you and see to the company’s future. Ryan Newton never felt such pressure, but a career with C.H. Newton Builders—founded by his great-grandfather and grandfather in 1958—wasn’t always a certainty. After college he gave New York a try for a few years, working in finance. But he just couldn’t shake his passion for home building.
“It’s one of those things where you grow up in a business like this, it’s tucked away somewhere that you always love it but you don’t always appreciate it,” says Newton, now VP of C.H. Newton Builders. “I feel very grateful to be able to be a part of it. Not many people have an opportunity like this, where so much family history is here, and I feel grateful to be able to add to it and put my own spin on it.”
For Newton, 31, his own spin is one that respects the knowledge of his craftsmen—some of whom have been with the company for over 30 years—while seeking to enhance it. “We’ve rolled out a more structured, education-based program here,” he explains, which includes field seminars on the latest products and techniques. “I feel like nobody can do a better job than us—that’s what we strive for.”
Working alongside his father, CEO David Newton, has instilled in him how invaluable client satisfaction is. “That’s what he has built his reputation on, that’s what my grandfather built his reputation on, and I think it’s a huge ingredient in our recipe for success,” he says. Add to that recipe both father and son’s hands-on involvement, as they spend many hours visiting job sites, whether it be a custom home build or a property they maintain. “It’s exciting. There’s never a dull moment,” he says.
And what if some day Newton’s daughter—or possibly a future child—wants to take the reigns of the company? “I think that’s a very cool experience if it happens, and if not that’s fine,” he says. “I’d want them to find it on their own. That was certainly the case with me.”
Paul van Steensel: Cape Dreams Building & Design
“Having both a business sense and hands-on experience is important, and if you can merge the two together, no matter what business you’re in, that’s the key to success. But you have to be willing to sacrifice and put the time in that it takes to get to where you want to go.”
As a child, Paul van Steensel fondly remembers his late mother reading to him “The Little Engine That Could.” It’s a story he now shares with his two young sons—the message of “I think I can, I think I can” still resonating with him to this day.
At the age of 26, van Steensel founded Cape Dreams Building and Design in 2006, since becoming one of the preeminent construction firms on Cape Cod. But success did not come overnight to van Steensel. While a junior at the University of Southern California’s prestigious Marshall School of Business, he and a friend started their own company in partnership with Tower Records, selling discgear (i.e. little CD storage cases). He took a semester off from school to run the burgeoning business, but economic turmoil caused the company to fall to the wayside. Faced with overwhelming debt, van Steensel was unable to go back to college and get his business degree.
“I felt like I failed,” he recalls, “but that just turned into this determination that I was going to succeed.” In 2001 van Steensel came to the Cape, where as a teenager he spent summers working construction jobs and fixing up the cottage behind Cobie’s Restaurant in Brewster. He decided to pursue work as a carpenter, spending the next five years learning as much as he could about the industry. “I knew someday I was going to own my own business,” he says. “I had a lot of people saying, ‘You should wait until you have more time under your belt.’ But the opportunity was there, and I took it.”
Though van Steensel and Cape Dreams faced hardship early on due to the economic crisis of 2008, he and his tight-knit team kept pushing forward, staying afloat by doing whatever work they could get their hands on. “I give the credit to the talented carpenters and woodworkers that we employ,” van Steensel says. “It’s the attention to detail, it’s the fact that we don’t subcontract high-end finish work. We’re able to deliver the same quality product to each client.” With business now booming, it’s clear van Steensel’s gumption has paid off. “Over the last two years the reality set in, like, yeah, we’re here, we made it,” he says, “so now it’s about keeping it going. It’s fun.”