Richard Lovelace may be the perfect example of how UNF transforms everyday students into successful civic and business leaders.
Lovelace, the divisional vice president of Stellar Commercial,
admits he wasn't the greatest student coming out of high school and
lacked motivation. He attended a community college and worked at JEA,
Jacksonville's water and electric utility, during the construction of
its new coal-fired generating station.
The turning point came when he enrolled in UNF's Construction
Management Program. Attending night classes, he was impressed with the
"real world experience" of the faculty and the "common sense approach
to learning." Specifically he recalls the inclusion of accounting and
business classes in the program. "Those classes prepared me well for my
current job which is part accounting, part lawyer and part HR rather
than actual construction."
After graduating in 1988, Lovelace took a job with Batson-Cook
Construction where he worked for 18 years, beginning as a field
engineer and climbing the career ladder to assistant vice president.
When he moved to Stellar in 2003, the commercial division was
delivering approximately $30 million a year in business. Today, that
total exceeds $100,000 million or about 20 percent of the company's
After his three kids and a 19-year-marriage to wife Darlene,
Lovelace is most proud of the growth the Commercial Division has
accomplished under his management. He is also proud of the LEED work
Stellar has completed. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental
Design), is the national benchmark for the design, construction and
operation of environmentally friendly buildings. Lovelace and Stellar
practice what they preach. The company's new two-story, 25,000
square-foot building that houses the Commercial Division is LEED
When not working, chances are good you will find Richard on his
bicycle. He logs up to 150 miles per week. This is in addition to the
recreation time he spends with his children coaching everything from
Little League baseball to flag football.
He still finds time for community involvement. He is on the board of
the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and co-chairs an annual sporting clays
(clay pigeons) event that generates up to $80,000 a year for the
charity. Lovelace is also a Paul Harris Fellow of the Riverside Rotary
and sits on the advisory panel of the St. Johns County Economic
His involvement with UNF continues with membership on the Dean's
Leadership Council for the College of Computing, Engineering and
Construction as well as volunteering for the student design build
competitions sponsored by the Associated General Contractors. As a
result of Richard's commitment to UNF, Stellar sponsors the Stellar
Commercial Track of the Construction Management program.
Richard also gives a helping hand to UNF graduates. He estimates as
many as 50 UNF alums currently work for Stellar. The emphasis on
community service which Lovelace encountered at UNF continues today
with all Stellar employees. "We did projects at UNF where we were all
encouraged to be involved in the community. Everyone needs to be
involved in their community. That's how we make Jacksonville a better
place to live."
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