by Dave Markwell
Twenty-something years ago, while working for the City of Des Moines Parks department, I spent a wonderful week of my summer helping set-up booths, stages and various other accoutrements for the Waterland Festival. During this time, I had the marvelous pleasure of working with many terrific volunteers. It was here that I first encountered a guy whose service to Des Moines has inspired me and contributed to the genuine betterment of our little seaside community.
While he still maintains a spiky, blond buzz-cut, Brooks Powell is no longer content with simply holding an old Makita screw gun attaching booth panels together. He thinks BIG!! And big things he does. His company, Powell Homes and Renovations, steps up every time in support of causes and events that make Des Moines better. Brooks and his brother, Todd, have shaped a legacy of service that is unmatched.
This week I took an opportunity to speak with Brooks about this legacy and why it is important to Powell Homes to contribute in powerful ways to creating a community in which people want to live. I wanted to understand, a little better, what motivates Brooks and Todd to give so generously.
To understand this, it is first important to understand a little history of Powell Homes. For 103 years, Powell Homes has been building homes in the Seattle area. During the mid-60’s, they began building around the Des Moines area. It is impossible to drive through any neighborhood in town and not pass a Powell home. Brooks said they have built over 2,000 homes in the area over the years. Some notable projects include, but are not limited to: Huntington Park, China Sea to All Star Sports Bar renovation, as well as the new Powell Homes office in downtown Des Moines.
For the past 30 years, Brooks and Todd have led the company. They have evolved with the times in an effort to not only maintain a good business model, but serve clients in ways meaningful to them. They no longer simply build homes. They, also, offer remodel services, as well as, property management and handyman services (Powell Care & Repair is a WLB Advertiser). This diversification has allowed Powell Homes and Renovations to remain viable and relevant during some challenging economic times, but also truly serve every aspect of home owner needs. They are experts in knowing the needs and experts in meeting them.
While many companies understand these basics, few stand out as exceptional. I asked Brooks what made Powell Homes focus on true service such a priority. He replied with, “a belief system.” A simple answer, but also powerful. It is easy for rich people to give money and look good doing it. Powell Homes is different. There is intent and truth and a “belief system” which guides them. They are not faking it to look good. They care. Brooks said they want to create “good communities”. And they are.
Powell Homes is a primary sponsor of nearly every cool event happening in Des Moines. They support the Poverty Bay Wine Festival, Blues and Brews Festival, Fireworks over Des Moines, and countless sports teams and school events. They sponsor recreation programs and build access ramps for people-in-need during their “Ramp-A-Thon.” They perform improvement projects, at cost, for low income home owners. They give.
The idea of “community cohesiveness” and the role of this in people’s quality of life is at the core of Powell Homes belief system. The understanding that these things matter shape the company’s mission and drive its charity. Speaking with Brooks, one understands that this is real to him. It is important to him and it underscores the heart of the company. It is for this reason that I will attend the Poverty Bay Blues and Brews event at Beach Park this Saturday (buy tickets online here) and I will seek out Brooks and I will shake his hand and say “thank you”…for everything…