Gus Adams is a long-time member of the AHBA and currently serves on the Board of Directors and our Workforce Development Committee. He stays actively involved by attending many member events and educational offerings. Gus has supported AHBA’s initiatives in growing awareness in the construction trades in our local market. He also helps the AHBA by drumming up donations for various events and generally pitching in wherever he can. Because of this and more, it was our privilege to recognize his efforts with the 2019 Builder of the Year Award!
There’s more to Gus Adams than meets the eye. Read on to learn about his family’s deep roots to Asheville, his love of historic preservation, and a little something you’d be surprised to know!
Where are you from? If not Asheville, how and when did you find yourself here?
I grew up in Jackson, MS, but my roots run deep in Asheville. My great grandfather, my grandfather and my father all grew up in Asheville. In 1906 my great grandfather, Judge Junius G. Adams, Sr. and his brother, John S. Adams opened Adams and Adams Attorneys at law which is the inspiration behind the name Adams and Adams Construction. Judge Adams was the trustee to the Biltmore Estate. He started the Biltmore Dairy, helped organize the transport of our National Treasures to be hidden at the Estate during WWII, was instrumental in having the Estate open to the public, and was the first Mayor of Biltmore Forest among other historical Asheville events. My grandfather, Junius Greene Adams, Jr. and his brother Joel Barber Adams also practiced at Adams and Adams Attorneys at Law which then later became Adams, Hendon, Carson, Crow and Saenger. My father, Junius Greene Adams, III, got his PhD. in genetics. He was working to find a cure for Sickle Cell Anemia which is what took us to Mississippi. When I graduated high school in 1990 I immediately moved to Asheville and have been here ever since.
How/why did you get started in the construction industry? Did you have any mentors/inspiration?
I was the kid that took things apart and put them back together. When we needed to build a bike ramp, a fort, or a wrestling ring, I was the go to. All of my mother’s brothers are engineers, mechanics, or construction trade contractors. Construction is in my blood. My first two tools were a broom and a shovel and as my tool collection grew, so did my love of construction. My grandfathers, my father, and my uncles have all been very inspirational as well as being, and continue to be, incredibly encouraging in my work. Katie, my wife, is my biggest supporter and all of my success is because of her.
Tell us about your company, Adams and Adams Construction.
I have been in and around construction all of my life. Katie, the better half of Adams and Adams, and I officially opened Adams and Adams Construction in 2010. We had just bought our home in Kenilworth and I got laid off from my project manager position at a local construction company due to the recession. I made some calls, found some work and we have been busy ever since. Adams and Adams focuses on fine home renovation and historic preservation. We love the challenge of renovation and preservation work. We will typically do three large projects a year with smaller projects thrown in when we have the time.
What’s a project you’ve done that stands out?
The James Madison and Leah Arcouet Chiles House in Kenilworth. The Chiles House, described as a “Spanish Fantasy Villa” is one of the most unique homes in the city of Asheville. James (Jake) Madison Chiles, who made his fortune in the furniture industry, was the original developer of the Kenilworth neighborhood in Asheville, and decided to build himself a home in the middle of the neighborhood he conceived. Chiles House is a unique old home with an indelible connection to the history of Asheville. Leah Chiles, Jake’s wife, became mayor of Kenilworth after Jake’s death in 1925, making her the first female mayor in North Carolina. As mayor, Leah ultimately presided over the decision for Kenilworth to become part of Asheville.
We did a multitude of restoration and preservation projects at the Chiles House that ultimately earned us a Griffin Award. One of the more notable aspects of the project was having tile custom manufactured to match the existing tile in the downstairs “Blue” bathroom. After so many years of towel bar, robe hooks, and t.p. holder installations that had come and gone, there were many tiles with holes in them. There were also a multitude of broken and cracked tiles from settling due to poor floor structure. We tediously removed and replaced all of the damaged tiles and brought the bathroom back to its full glory. There is such a seamless transition between the old and new tiles, even we have a hard time telling which ones are which.
How long have you been involved with the AHBA, and why?
I have been involved in the AHBA since 2011. I joined because I know that all reputable trades people are members of their local trade organizations and joining the AHBA also included membership in NCHBA and the NAHBA. You can thank James Carr of Mountain Town Carpentry for my membership. I also saw an opportunity for education. If you know me, you know that education is extremely important to me.
2019 is my first year on the board. When Brandon Bryant of Red Tree Builders approached me about becoming a board member, I saw a great opportunity to give back to an organization that has given so much to me. From education, to qualified trade contractors, to relationships with other builders, the AHBA has been crucial to the success of our business.
What is your favorite AHBA event?
That is like asking someone what their favorite song is or what their favorite movie is. With all the great things that the AHBA does, how can I narrow it down to just one thing? If I have to give you an answer, I can narrow it down to the ACE Classes and After Hours. Once we start offering more classes for our continuing education requirements, you can add that to my “favorites” list as well.
People would be surprised to know…?
I got my B.A. in Music with a focus in Jazz Studies from UNC–Asheville. My main instrument is the bass, but I also play guitar, tuba, ukele and am currently working to learn how to play the guitarron. I have played in bands that have toured the south east and I still play locally when offered an opportunity. I also DJ at some local non profit events as Professah G. aka DJ 501-C3. One of my favorite spots to spin vinyl is at Triangle Park down on The Block with the Just Folks Organization.
Words to live by…?
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness – only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate – only love can do that” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
It is truly an honor to have received the 2019 Asheville Home Builders Association Builder of the Year Award. Thank you.