Our motivation for being home builders comes from a very influential family member: our owner Josh’s grandfather. Poppy was all about helping people. And he is the reason we’ve chosen to use Universal Design in every home we build as custom home builders – he is our “why.” Poppy’s life experience inspires us to create a community around accessibility and inclusive design. You are always welcome here. Welcome home.
Josh Mauney is Paragon Building Group‘s founder and CEO. In addition to being the Triangle area’s Southern Living Custom Home Builder, Josh is a Graduate Master Builder, a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS), and 2019’s Young Professionals of the Year Award Winner for National Association of Home Builders.
Marilyn Morrow, Josh’s Mom, works for our sister company Paragon Safety Group, keeping businesses and people safe through OSHA training and consulting.
“Josh, being the oldest grandchild, got the privilege of naming Poppy. Forever.
“Poppy used to talk about this: how Josh named him, and that all the grandkids that came after Josh all called him Poppy because of Josh. It was sweet.
“All I can remember is having a conversation, all of us, wondering: “what are we are going to call you? Grandma and Grandpa?” Poppy’s wife Dot said, simply: Dot. Just call me Dot. Everyone else does. So, we were thinking about Grandpa, Pop-Pop, Granddad, you know, and Josh just blurted out Poppy! And it was perfect.
“Josh was so verbal. He talked long before he walked! He was a chatterbox. I don’t remember how old he was exactly, but he was little, and just such an early talker. Poppy stuck forever. It was always, to me, well suited, and it just stuck. Everyone called him Poppy from then on. We’re still all calling him Poppy, and we always will. It means even more now. And, all because a really-young Josh had an idea and said it out loud: Poppy!”
Poppy grew an abundance of vegetables and blueberries, more than he and Dot could ever eat themselves, and more than Mom or my aunt and even all the kids could ever eat. It was acres, all down the hill towards the lake. He grew that much, so that he could give it to strangers.
His kindness, his constant offers to help, his veggies and blueberries were his calling card of sorts. Helping people opened the door for connection. He put so much effort and love into connecting with people.
Even his investments in things were really motivated by a desire to invest in people.
Whether it was building a beach house for family, or having a boat to lend to others – it was all about his ability to invest in another person. Changing a friend’s oil, sharing vegetables from the garden, long talks on the porch, being able to serve as a mentor, or even simply through hospitality – everything for Poppy was about connection and people.
Poppy knew that every person is different, and that in order to help people effectively, you have to really listen.
Poppy took time to learn about a person, how to best care and support each individual, considering their unique needs and life experiences, and it all started with really listening. Poppy did a lot of listening, and he accommodated people so many different ways.
Poppy served in WW2. He was the Postmaster for a small-town post office for decades. And after that, he was retired for more years than he worked. Most importantly, though: Poppy was a great father, and an unimaginably supportive grandfather. However, it is his desire to help strangers, friends, and even people who meant him harm that was the most remarkable thing about him. This sense of community, of helping, was part of everything he did. Community was part of the post office, with the little candy rack he had for the kids. Helping others was part of his time in service in the Navy, where he was the cook, always serving, making biscuits, helping. It was who he was: he helped people.
If he were here right now, talking to you, he’d probably have a bucket of blueberries to insist you take home with you.
Sometimes, the lengths to which he’d accommodate and help people worried us, but his heart was always in an endearing place.
For example: when he found out some of his power tools were stolen, and he was even told who stole them, his first and only response was ‘let him keep them; he clearly needs that saw more than I do.’ The whole family felt angry on his behalf, but Poppy acted only with kindness, compassion, and a sense of community that went beyond anything that a person would expect these days. It’s not that he in any way condoned the behavior, it’s that he saw beyond it. He saw this other person’s struggle, and had compassion for that struggle more than his own loss and inconvenience. I’m not sure I would ever feel that way myself in that particular situation. But, that said, this is the quality I think I admire most about him: his compassion and the care he had for others.
He might even offer to change the oil in your car. He built an oil changing station under his carport, where the car parked on top of a dug-out spot in the ground, so he could offer to change people’s oil anytime, and let folks change their own oil if they wanted without having to bend down and without lifting the car. It was a great, simple design.
And, he’d look at you like you’re the only person in the world right now, and you’d have his full attention. He’d have loved to meet you, because he loved to meet people, to talk to people, and to help them if he could. He’s who I’ve always wanted to be. As a kid, when I grew up, I always wanted to be like Poppy. And now as a business owner and an adult, I still want to be like him – I want to help people.
Poppy’s pride in ownership was all about having something other people could use. Furthermore, that other people could use, borrow and even steal. It was based around hospitality and value being found in others. You never forget how people make you feel. Poppy was never going to be one to donate money to a cause to get his name on a brick, but he might buy you lunch or lend you a shovel or an expensive tiller if you needed it. For him, it was about directly helping people. I feel like the question is: where can you make the most impact? Cutting a check might be the best way for some people, but generally I’d say Poppy’s way is best. For Poppy, he always made the biggest impact through daily expressions of compassion, a love of humor, helping a person right now in this moment, connecting and building bonds.
In his sunroom, there was a window seat that overlooked his garden down the hill. I remember sitting there as a child. They’d set vegetable plants in pots on the long window seat to help them ripen in the sunroom’s heat. I remember the countertops in his kitchen, a surface made of inlaid white tile that Poppy built himself. And Poppy’s chair – I remember Poppy’s chair. It was uncomfortable and wooden, simple like a school chair. He sat in it to stay awake after dinner, and he’d move that chair closer and closer, and closer to the TV to sit and watch each evening, closer and closer until he’d fall asleep, often during the 11 o’clock news.
I still, even after all these years in business, want to be just like Poppy, to embody his kindness and his sense of helping people.
In addition to being the founder of Paragon Building Group, Josh is also the owner of Paragon Safety Group. Having worked in the construction and building industries for decades, Josh is passionate about safety, inclusion and people. In addition to being a Graduate Master Builder, Josh also holds a degree in Construction Management from ECU. As a person who has lived, worked, and studied his whole life in North Carolina, Josh is happy to call Raleigh home.
Call me when you are ready. Even if it is just to chat for a second or two, and even if you aren’t building a custom home at the moment, always feel free to reach out. I promise, you will be the only person in the world to me while we talk, and I will listen and learn how best I can help you in this very moment. When we talk, we’ll build something beautiful together, even (especially) if it is our connection as people that we are building. You are always welcome here at Paragon Building Group. We are in the business of helping people. Welcome Home.