Two Orangeburg businessmen were recognized by the Orangeburg-Bamberg-Calhoun Home Builders Association for their years of service and commitment to the association and toward home development in the three-county region.
Stroman Appliance Center's Andy Stroman and G.W. Berry, owner of G.W. Berry Realty & Construction Inc., were recognized by their peers, colleagues and family members during a February awards ceremony.
The dinner event was held at the Edisto Shrine Club in Orangeburg.
"It meant a lot to me and it really humbled me," Berry said. "I did not realize I had such an impact on my subordinates and competitors."
"It really was wonderful," Stroman said, noting he was surprised by the award.
He has been a member of the OBCHBA for more than 30 years but had not been to a meeting for the last four.
He was presented a plaque that included a copy of The Times and Democrat's article on the closing of the business.
"My whole family was in the picture because everyone was involved in the business," he said. "That worked really great."
Both men have retired and closed their businesses. Stroman retired in December and Berry retired in May 2018.
In addition to the local award, Home Builders Association of South Carolina Executive Director Mark Nix presented Berry with the Champion of the American Dream award.
The Champion of the American Dream is awarded to an individual in recognition of leadership and efforts in keeping the American dream of home ownership affordable.
"G.W. has proven to be a stalwart champion of protecting the American dream in South Carolina and he honors our industry for his tireless dedication to keeping housing affordable," HBA of South Carolina Executive Director Mark Nix said.
The award was given for Berry's stance against regulations that would have made sprinkler systems mandatory for new home construction. The Home Builders Association fought the bill.
"It was not a good code," Berry said. "It was too expensive and it would have put people out of the market. It doesn't save lives. Smoke detectors save lives. Sprinkler heads in some cases save property."
He was only the third person to receive the award since the state association began the honor in 2010.
OBCHBA Vice President Adolphus Johnson described Berry as "one of the strongest advocates for home building within Orangeburg County" for his stance against the sprinkler bill.
"That would have added $10,000 to build a house and would have put homeowners out of reach," Johnson said.
Berry was also one of the most prolific home builders in the county, having constructed more than 700 homes over his 43-year career.
Among the subdivisions Berry helped build in Orangeburg are Woodberry, Orange Park and The Orchard.
Johnson said Berry was also one of the first home builders -- number 75 to be exact -- to be licensed in the state and served both the OBCHBA and state Home Builders Association as president.
"He had a unique construction style," Johnson said. "If you look throughout the subdivisions, you will notice certain brick colors he utilized. He also utilized architectural shingles and hip roofs. He also had a keen sense of detail."
The Stroman family has long held OBCHBA membership as Stroman's father, Andrew Jr., was heavily involved in the organization for years.
Stroman Appliance closed its Executive Court doors at the end of 2018 after 47 years in business.
While the showroom, sales and parts portion of the store closed, appliance services are still offered.
Stroman Appliance Center was founded by Andrew Stroman Jr. in 1971.
A World War II veteran, Stroman served in the U.S. Army Air Force as an AP mechanic gunner during the war.
Following the war, he returned to Fort Logan, Colorado, for a period of convalescence. He later transferred to the Enlisted Reserve Corps.
Upon returning to the States, he began an appliance service business in 1948 out of a backyard shop.
In June 1971, Stroman and his son, Andy, opened the retail appliance store after being approached by General Electric to do so.
The first store opened on south Broughton Street.
After several years the store moved to Russell Street.
But due to the lack of parking and an economic slump downtown, the Stromans purchased land on Chestnut Street where the business was located until closing.
Andrew Stroman Jr. retired in 1996 and he and his wife, Medrue, moved to The Oaks due to health issues.
The store sold GE, GE Cafe, GE Profile, Hotpoint and Whirlpool products for kitchen and laundry appliances and outdoor products.
OBCHBA is a local branch of the National Association of Home Builders. The association represents a network of craftsmen, innovators and problem solvers dedicated to building and enriching communities.
OBCHBA has about 20 members.
The association seeks to offer members education and resources to help expand their business; provides networking opportunities with other home builders, develops solutions for members’ businesses through access to experts who provide insight and information; and seeks to advocate for business interests in Washington, DC.
The National Home Builders Association has more than 2,200 members serving on the association’s board of directors, which elects the senior officers and helps set the association’s agenda.