Rockford Foundries president building a legacy with Habitat for Humanity
Pete Rundquist likes to create something every day. That’s why he’s in the metalcasting business.
“My motto is, I have to create a widget or I have to build something and be able to look back and say I did this today,” Rundquist said.
That’s also part of the reason why he does something noble with his free time: volunteering with Habitat for Humanity.
Rundquist, who is the president of AFS Corporate Member Rockford Foundries Inc. (Rockford, Illinois), is in his eighth year on the board of the Rockford-area Habitat for Humanity. Almost a decade ago, Rundquist was at a banquet and a Habitat representative was there to accept an award. After hearing the speech, Rundquist introduced himself and asked how to get involved.
Now Rundquist leads a build every summer in the Rockford area and he and wife Becky have worked with Blitz Home Builders, a national wing of Habitat that constructs multiple homes over a period of a week to 10 days. He’s been to Hawaii for the group twice, and last year was part of a group that put up 10 houses in 10 days.
The work, Rundquist says, is rewarding in many ways.
“I have been on different boards, none of them for a non-profit like this. But I have been on boards for different organizations. This one just struck me as something I really wanted to do and I just love doing it. It’s like a therapy for me,” Rundquist said. “Every Saturday I go out to a house and there’s 20 or 30 people and I guide them and lead them and we build a house. It takes us about 12 weeks but we get the house built.
“It gets me away from my shop and thinking about everything. I love it and I can devoid myself of thinking about the foundry or stuff at home. I can just do that.”
And, of course, it’s rewarding for Rundquist to help create a family’s new home.
He said he somewhat “adopts” the family he’s building for, and appreciates all the work they put into their future home—a Habitat requirement is the eventual owners put in 300 hours on their house. Rundquist relishes what he’s doing for a family, and knows he is making a difference.
“It’s amazing what it does for the family. It’ll completely change a family because they have a safe home environment. They’re not scared every day or worried every day. You can really see it. They really appreciate what you do for them,” Rundquist said. “It’s absolutely super and some of the people I’ve built with have become friends. It’s really a neat thing to turn somebody’s life around. You will watch grades go up for kids in school, you will see job performance for the homeowner. Maybe they get a better job or they stay at this job that they’re at because they realize what they have to do. It’s just very rewarding.
By doing this, Rundquist has learned plenty. He’s learned how a house actually comes together and all the requirements. He’s learned to work with many types of people, how to get the most from skilled workers and how to teach neophytes the basics so they can contribute.
“You become a teacher to the people that do not have any skill and you take the skilled ones and you kind of put them with somebody and you just lead it and get it all done,” he said. “If you ever get a chance to work with your local Habitat for Humanity affiliate to help build a house you would be surprised at how rewarding it is. You might just get hooked.”
For more information on Habitat for Humanity, visit www.habitat.org.
Click here to see this story as it appears in the April 2018 issue of Modern Casting