Dave Lucchetti helps build the West – and the community

Dave Lucchetti
“We’ve been very fortunate that we can help,” Dave Lucchetti says. (Sacramento State/Andrea Price)

Related video: Honorary doctorate ceremony for Dave Lucchetti

Dave Lucchetti, a Sacramento State alumnus and president and CEO of Pacific Coast Building Products, always has believed in giving back to the community, with a particular interest in helping the younger members of society.

Lucchetti (Physical Education ’67, Certificate ’68) will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the California State University system during commencement ceremonies for the College of Health and Human Services at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, May 21, at Sleep Train Arena.

He and his wife, Christine, daughter of Pacific Coast Building founder Fred Anderson, are well known in the community for their philanthropic work. The Anderson-Lucchetti family has been involved in numerous campaigns for nonprofits, such as Sierra Adoption Services and Jesuit High School. In 2005, the family pledged funding to the Sutter Medical Center Foundation for construction of the Anderson-Lucchetti Women’s and Children’s Center.

“We’ve been very fortunate that we can help with these efforts,” Dave Lucchetti says. “We’re thankful for the ability to do that.”

Lucchetti came to Sacramento State via Delta College in Stockton. While at Sac State, he was a defensive back for two years under football coach Ray Clemons, although he downplays his contributions. “I didn’t play my senior year, and that team was very good,” Lucchetti says.

It also was at Sac State where Lucchetti met his future wife on a blind date. The two were married a short time later and, after serving with the Army Reserve, Lucchetti went to work at Lodi High School, where he coached various sports, and taught PE and history.

But after two years, it was time for a change.

“I had thought that was what I wanted to do the rest of my life,” Lucchetti says. “But then I realized I wasn’t sure.” So he went to work for this father-in-law in 1970.

Since then, the Rancho Cordova-based company has grown from six or seven locations to about 90, spread over several Western states. Pacific Coast Building Products not only manufactures building materials such as gypsum wall board and asphalt roofing, it also distributes roofing, drywall and masonry products; and in some areas, it contracts for roofing, insulation, and glazing work.

It’s a family-owned and -run business, and takes that designation seriously, not only in the way it treats employees but also in the way it conducts itself in the community.

When considering support for an organization, the primary focus for the Anderson-Lucchetti family is children and young people.

Lucchetti notes that there are families with serious issues and problems, and the children need to see there is another way of life. “We need to break that cycle so that these kids have a chance to be productive,” he says.

One of the organizations the family supports is Cristo Rey High School. Started by a Jesuit priest, Cristo Rey has campuses across the nation. The Sacramento school opened in 2006 and, like all Cristo Rey high schools, provides education and support for children from families living below the poverty level.

Each student takes part in a work-study program, working in office-type settings five days a month. The employer covers the costs of the student’s education, and the student not only learns skills but also sees firsthand what kind of life is available to him or her.

Pacific Coast Building Products employs many Cristo Rey students, Lucchetti says. It even reaches out to them once they graduate, offering them jobs while they attend college. “And college is one of the conditions,” Lucchetti says. “You go to school.”

Joining a company with a reputation for helping the community was an easy fit for Lucchetti. His parents, Frank and Cristina, ran a farm near Stockton. “My mom and dad were not wealthy at all, but always were active in the community and active in charitable organizations,” he says. “They were very giving people.”

The parents also instilled a sense of self-reliance in Dave and his two brothers. They gave the boys a small plot of land on the farm, and the three grew their own crops to sell at the family’s fruit stand. “That’s how we paid for high school and college,” Dave Lucchetti says. “It was a good experience.”

Lucchetti is impressed with the strides Sacramento State has made in recent years. “It’s moving into the next phase, and I think it’s doing well,” he says. “Its involvement in the community has improved over the last seven or eight years.”

He and Christine have met University President Robert S. Nelsen and his wife, Jody, and Dave observes that the new president is enthused about getting Sac State more involved in the community. “Every time I go to a function, he’s there,” Lucchetti says.

Community involvement also means the region needs to support the University, providing jobs for its students by attracting new businesses to the area and retaining those already here, Lucchetti says.

Meanwhile, Lucchetti continues his own personal involvement in helping the Sacramento area. The approach is best summed up by his description of how family members oversee one of the company’s foundations, deciding how funds are spent. “It’s with the condition that you don’t just give money out. You become involved in what the group is and get to know what they do. That works pretty well.”

Green Machine: Sustainable development leader helps farmworker and low-income families find a place to call home

Vanessa Guerra
As a project manager for Mutual Housing California, Vanessa Guerra is behind some of the region’s most groundbreaking “green” housing developments. (Sacramento State/Jessica Vernone)

Vanessa Guerra knows what it’s like to grow up in a dusty small town where a working bathtub is a luxury, where neighbors move in and out with the seasons, and where utility bills pile up on cash-strapped families like tumbleweeds along California Route 16.

That made it all the more meaningful to her when, in 2015, more than 60 Woodland families moved into a development project that she managed: Mutual Housing at Spring Lake, the first zero-net energy, multifamily development in the nation for migrant farmworkers.

The landmark project established a new standard for “green” construction projects aimed at driving down energy costs for low-income families throughout the region.

“Most of these families that work in farm labor, they’re working in harsh conditions,” says Guerra, a project manager for Mutual Housing California. “So to be able to come into a home that’s healthy, that provides clean air quality, that is built with materials that are not putting out volatile organic compounds … it’s even more of a benefit.”

Since graduating from Sacramento State in 2008 with a bachelor’s in engineering-construction management, Guerra has leveraged her education and personal experiences into some of the region’s most groundbreaking projects, where affordable housing and green construction go hand in hand.

When Mutual Housing at Spring Lake opened, it made headlines because it provided permanent housing for migrant families who otherwise would be forced to move during certain seasons. But it also was a springboard for future sustainable development projects that feature an integrated solar voltaic panel system, LED lighting, electric heat pumps, and additional features that all but eliminate energy costs for residents, driving down the cost of living for families for whom every dollar counts.

“That’s a big deal as to why we’re doing this,” Guerra says, “because in the end, they’re the ones who are able to save money by having these low utility bills.”

Aerial view of Mutual Housing at Spring Lake
Mutual Housing at Spring Lake is the first zero-net energy rental housing development in the nation. (Mutual Housing California/Josh Sunseri)

Over the past year, Guerra parlayed her success into a number of similar projects: She headed an affordable housing development in South Sacramento, major rehabilitation projects in Foothill Farms and Stockton, and Phase 2 of Mutual Housing at Spring Lake, where her team is adding 40 units on the remaining parcel so that more than 100 farmworker families can have a permanent home. Guerra also serves on the board of the California Coalition for Rural Housing.

Mutual Housing at Spring Lake is the first zero-net energy rental housing development in the nation. The project is LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-certified and ENERGY STAR-certified, and was the winner of the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2015 Housing Innovation Award.

Guerra grew up in Esparto, Calif., just 17 miles down the road from where Mutual Housing at Spring Lake stands today. Her brother is Eric Guerra, who serves as District 6 City Council member in Sacramento.

“The fact that I was able to serve a population that I came from … it’s just a huge success for me personally,” Guerra says. “It’s a huge achievement for me because I knew the struggles that those residents were going through; I knew what it was like to grow up in substandard housing.”

Like nearly all their neighbors, Guerra’s family worked in the fields. After graduating from high school, she enrolled at Sacramento State, initially as a biology major. She quickly found her way into civil engineering when modern development’s “green revolution” was in full effect.

“Some of my colleagues were already pursuing accreditations through the LEED program, and so it was something new to us, but we saw that there was a future in that.”

Ultimately she decided that she wanted to work for a developer and focus on providing affordable housing for low-income families. As a senior, she interned with Mutual Housing California, which hired her as a project manager immediately after graduation.

“The fact that I learned all of this construction and project management background through my degree really gave me a leg up in development,” she says.

And thanks to Guerra, more Central Valley families have a place to call home.

Distinguished Alumni Award winner shares her Sac State story

Over the past decade, few individuals have had a greater impact on Sacramento’s economic future than Christine Ault. Now, in her own words, the dynamic communications leader shares the impact Sacramento State had on her:

“Of course I would express my gratitude for the quality education I received, for many wonderful teachers I had the chance to study with, and for the foundation that my Communication Studies degree laid for me. But looking back after 25 years since graduation, it’s really the unforeseen opportunities that came about — for both Michael and me — that simply can’t be measured.”

Christine and Michael Ault with professor Gerri Smith
Christine (left) and Michael Ault return to campus to visit with communications professor Gerri Smith. The Aults met in one of Smith’s classes, and the professor attended their wedding years later. (Sacramento State/Jessica Vernone)

Tonight in the Harper Alumni Center, Christine and her husband, Michael Ault, executive director of the Downtown Sacramento Partnership, will accept Distinguished Alumni Awards for the staggering amount of work they have done to bring a new vision of Sacramento to life.

Over the years, Christine Ault has worn many hats and played myriad roles, most recently as a project manager for Valley Vision, a regional think tank. The organization is responsible for some of the region’s biggest collaborative initiatives, partnerships, programs, and events.

With Valley Vision, she has helped bring in millions of dollars in state grants as a result of her work on the landmark jobs initiative Next Economy, which laid out a roadmap for continued growth and cooperative efforts across Sacramento’s vast economic landscape through 2017.

Though more than two decades have passed, she still hearkens back to her time at Sac State, the professors who inspired her, the connections she made, and friendships that continue to this day.

“Fast forward 25 years, and Michael and I find ourselves working alongside Sac State leaders every day. President Nelsen, Phil Garcia, Robert Dugan. Our work also crosses paths with probably hundreds of fellow alumni as we each do our part to help the region meet its full potential. Tim Murphy, Keri Thomas, Bill Mueller, Pat Fong Kushida, and so many others. I have no doubt that the opportunities that Michael and I have been afforded started from our relationship with Sac State. Not just the institution, but the people.”

Read Christine’s blog in its entirety over at Valley Vision; check out the Aults’ Made at Sac State story and video for more on how the couple is shaping Sacramento’s future.