When Bernard Iacovangelo was fresh out of law school, his older brother decided the two of them should enter the real estate business.
They bought a 99-unit apartment complex in Gates, and Frank Iacovangelo, partner in the law firm Gallo & Iacovangelo LLP, thought his brother should manage it.
The younger Iacovangelo was hesitant.
"I said, ‘I just finished law school, and now you want me to run an apartment complex?’" he recalls.
The move paid off. More than four decades later, Bernard Iacovangelo, 65, is CEO and sole owner of Faber Construction Co. Inc., which does business as Faber Homes.
The firm has 38 employees and has built residential communities in Chili, Greece, Henrietta and Wheatland. Iacovangelo oversees all aspects of the business and assists each department with its daily operations, from the excavation of a new home’s basement to marketing and advertising.
While he is proud of his success, Iacovangelo is committed to giving back to the area where he was raised.
"No matter how much success you have in life, always remember where you came from," he says.
Iacovangelo grew up in the Rochester area and attended the Aquinas Institute. His parents-both immigrants with limited schooling-believed education would be the cornerstone of their children’s lives.
After graduating from high school, Iacovangelo, the youngest of four siblings, followed his older brothers to St. John Fisher College. With only a stint at a local grocery store as job experience, he was uncertain what to pick for a major. So when the guidance counselor asked if he was good at math and Iacovangelo said he was, the counselor said he would study accounting. It was the first area of study on the college’s list of offerings.
After receiving his bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1970, Iacovangelo took a job at a local accounting firm. Three months later, however, he was ready to shift gears.
"I became convinced the last thing I wanted to do was public accounting," he says.
He thought about a few directions but ultimately decided a career in law might be the way to go after hearing about the job from his brother. Gaining acceptance to a law school was a challenge until one day he ran into a college buddy who told him about a law school in Florida.
He called up the admissions office, gained acceptance and shortly after headed to the school.
Iacovangelo graduated from Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport, Fla., in 1973 and came back to New York, where he passed the state bar exam.
He then went to work for his brother and his brother’s partner, Louis Gallo, at their Rochester office. There he learned the law from two skilled attorneys, he says.
The career move
Shortly after starting there, the real estate investments began.
Iacovangelo says he was inexperienced but found an early mentor in Anthony DiMarzo, head of Mark IV Enterprises Inc., from whom the brothers bought the Gates apartment complex.
After a few years, they bought more property in Rochester.
In the early 1980s, their other brother, Anthony, got involved, and the brothers expanded their focus to include homebuilding.
The first projects were additions to their own homes, which they followed with the purchase of nine lots in Henrietta.
Iacovangelo cut back at the law office in the mid-1990s and retired from there a few years later when he began to concentrate fully on Faber Homes.
Anthony Iacovangelo retired some eight years ago from Faber, and Frank Iacovangelo took a buyout a year ago, leaving Bernard Iacovangelo the sole owner.
In addition to building residential units, Faber has additional business entities, including a land development business and decorating center, Claridge Design Centre, which is run by Iacovangelo’s wife, Patti. Faber also owns the building at 80 W. Main St. in the city, which is leased by Monroe County.
Iacovangelo says his law background helps him run the company. He can handle various legal aspects of the business, from working on contracts to presenting at planning and zoning board meetings.
He most enjoys, however, the creative aspects of the business.
"I see a piece of land and have a vision of what it will turn out to be," Iacovangelo says.
An example is Blueberry Hill, a 336-unit apartment complex in Chili, which has features more typically found in single-family homes, such as high ceilings, fireplaces and laundry facilities in the units.
Another example is housing developments Faber built post-9/11. Affected by the events of that day, Iacovangelo wanted to build communities with the feel of a neighborhood, with sidewalks and street lights encouraging people to get out and meet their neighbors.
Over-regulation by the state and increasing property taxes are what Iacovangelo likes least about the business.
Rick Herman, CEO of the Rochester Home Builders Association, has known Iacovangelo for more than 25 years, first as a competitor and then as a member of RHBA’s board of directors.
He speaks of Iacovangelo’s competitive spirit.
"Whether it’s related to sales at his business, negotiations with a contractor or subcontractor he’s doing business with or on the sports field, Bernie is a competitive individual," Herman says.
Iacovangelo is dedicated to his family and the community, Herman adds. He also tries to stay ahead of the curve in his business and has embraced green building initiatives.
"He is always learning and educating himself on the industry and is then willing to share that knowledge with others," Herman says.
Moving forward, Iacovangelo wants to continue improving Faber Homes, meeting the needs of customers and continuing to provide the latest offerings.
"I want nothing but a great Faber experience," he says.
Active in community
Iacovangelo’s office is filled to capacity with family pictures, his degrees, sports tokens, business mementos and religious items.
"I have everything up here but my driver’s license," he says, laughing.
One of the items is a large black-and-white photo of Iacovangelo as a child with his sister. The family lived in a working class neighborhood on King Street in the city, and he says the photo helps keep him grounded.
"Where I have been formed who I am today," Iacovangelo says.
Giving back is one of his priorities. In March, for example, Faber Homes broke ground on the construction of a home in Churchville that will be auctioned off to benefit the YMCA of Greater Rochester’s Invest in Youth Campaign.
"It’s a whole team effort," Iacovangelo says.
He and Patti live in Chili, where they are members of St. Pius X Catholic Church, and have three adult children: sons Frank, 28, and Patsy, 23, and daughter Annamaria, 26.
Iacovangelo is an active fundraiser and volunteer for the church.
Also an avid sports fan, Iacovangelo recently went with Patsy to the NCAA’s Final Four games. His favorite teams include the Buffalo Bills, New York Yankees and Pittsburgh Steelers.
Iacovangelo also serves as a youth mentor. He is a long-time assistant soccer coach at Aquinas and has served as a soccer coach for inner-city kids.
Chili Supervisor David Dunning has known Iacovangelo since 2008, when he was elected. Iacovangelo-a longtime active member of the town’s Republican Party-immediately reached out to Dunning when he took office.
Since then, the two have become friends, and Dunning has been impressed with Iacovangelo’s business acumen as well as his community involvement, particularly as a mentor to underprivileged youths.
"He is passionate about what he does, and he loves to see other people succeed," Dunning says. "He really thinks things through, and I believe that makes him an incredible leader and a great coach."
Iacovangelo’s mentoring extends beyond the local area.
The couple’s children were adopted from El Salvador and Guatemala, and the family has played host to children from other parts of the world. Iacovangelo considers many of them permanent members of the family.
He has emails on his desk from former foreign exchange students and boys he has coached, thanking him for his time and guidance as well as sharing their current successes.
Much of his mentoring extends beyond sports training to focus on education, Iacovangelo says.
"I tell them the greatest sense of hope comes from education," he says.
Position: CEO, Faber Construction Co. Inc., dba Faber Homes
Education: BBA from St. John Fisher College, 1970; juris doctorate from Stetson University College of Law, Gulfport, Fla., 1973
Family: Wife Patti; sons Frank, 28, and Patsy, 23; daughter Annamaria, 26
Activities: assistant soccer coach, community volunteer/youth mentor, sports fan
Quote: "No matter how much success you have in life, always remember where you came from."
5/3/13 (c) 2013 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.