Howard Building Corporation news


The Life and Legacy of Gary Conrad


Reflecting on the life and legacy of one of our founders is by no means accomplished in one article, one celebration, or one moment of silence. Understanding the enormity of Mr. Conrad’s contribution to HBC may be achieved only by devoting an entire career to the industry or working alongside him building the company into what it is now. Although words pale in comparison to his dynamic, charismatic personality, we continue to celebrate Gary Conrad and the inextricable influence he will always have on HBC and the industry.

“No matter what the trend is, no matter what's happening in the industry, the relationship is the thing that will always get you through.”

Mr. Conrad joined the team in 1984 and served as President from 1991 until his retirement in 2014. Within this time, he worked tirelessly to build relationships from the ground-up. What started with cold-calling eventually evolved into long-term bonds as his efforts expanded HBC’s presence in Southern California. In an ever-changing industry with many moving parts, Gary gracefully maintained lucrative connections with design firms, brokers, clients, employees—he was truly a man who knew how to connect with anybody. He related to people on a meaningful level, often finding mutual interests in charity, education, and the arts. Mr. Conrad served on the boards of many organizations close to his heart, including the Cancer Wellness Center of LA and Orange County School of the Arts. As a man with a successful professional career and a rich life of pursuing his passions, his relentless desire to maintain deep, meaningful relationships with clients and friends alike is truly inspiring. 

Gary Conrad passed away peacefully on Thursday, May 2nd at the age of 76. There was an outpouring of sorrow and grief at the news and a resounding desire to celebrate the man who inspired so many. Mr. Conrad’s Celebration of Life was held on Thursday, May 23rd at the Pacific Club in Newport Beach.

The Pacific Club ballroom was overflowing with people, energy, and emotion as hundreds of people came to pay their respects to the family while celebrating the life and legacy of Mr. Conrad. In addition to overwhelming sadness, the celebration included laughter and story-telling while paying tribute to Gary’s love for entertaining. He imbued a strong sense of humor in all aspects of his life, and this was reflected in the stories and memories that were shared. The Conrad family lost a patriarch, HBC lost a founder, and the industry lost a great personality.

“I can honestly say that I have done everything I ever wanted to do. I've been fortunate to travel and see things many people don't get to see. I've lived a very full life, and I have had a very good time.”

To commemorate Mr. Conrad’s influence, reflect on how his values have shaped the company, and honor those who carry his torch today, HBC will present an annual Gary Conrad Spirit Award at the company holiday party. By recognizing that individual success is dependent upon the success of the group, the recipient of the award will have repeatedly demonstrated unwavering support for HBC and have been instrumental in our success through his or her actions.

Gary Conrad is irreplaceable and through recognizing his virtues in others, we can continue to remember and be inspired by such a dynamic man.

Selected quotes taken from an interview with Gary conducted before he retired. Click here to read the full article. 

The Life and Legacy of Gary Conrad