2014 Commencement Speaker
Co-Founder, Be Like Brit
Len Gengel ’84 is the epitome of the community-minded entrepreneur. He started C&S Builders (an acronym for College Student) in 1982, while he was a student himself, and has built more than 300 homes and developed 10 neighborhoods in Central Massachusetts. In 1995, Gengel received the Homebuilder of the Year Award in Massachusetts; he was one of the youngest recipients to be recognized in the 60-year history of the award. Gengel received the award in recognition of his implementation of a progressive customer service policy, including 90-day and one-year home inspections.
Gengel and his company were also recognized in Recognition, Gratitude, and Celebration, a book by Patrick L. Townsend and Joan E. Gebhardt, published in 2007. The book’s section, “A Quality Builder,” details Gengel’s people-focused Total Quality Management practices and “Constant and Never-Ending Improvement” philosophy at C&S. Each C&S employee developed quarterly goals and were recognized annually for their performance. C&S would also recognize a “Sub-Contractor of the Year” among the sub-contractors with which they worked.
Active in his industry and community, Gengel is a past president of Greater Worcester Habitat for Humanity and of the Homebuilders of Massachusetts. During his time as president, he founded a partnership between the Homebuilders of Massachusetts and Habitat for Humanity. Gengel was also named the 2010-11 Humanitarian of the Year by the Rutland Lions Club.
Becker College presented Gengel with its first Gabe Simon Award for distinguished service at the October 2010 Athletic Hall of Fame ceremony. He has supported his alma mater as a trustee, philanthropist, and mentor to young alumni. As a student-athlete, Gengel was a standout first baseman and catcher for the Becker baseball team.
After running his building company for 30 years, Gengel retired to focus on founding and constructing the 19,000 square-foot Be Like Brit orphanage in Grand Goave, Haiti. Gengel and his wife, Cherylann, dedicated themselves to building the orphanage to honor the last wish of their daughter, Britney, who died in the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti on January 12, 2010. Be Like Brit’s mission is to raise the next generation of Haiti’s leaders.
The Be Like Brit orphanage was built according to the same seismic standards as buildings in California. ABC News reported that with the orphanage construction site, Gengel become “the biggest employer in the area, hiring a 75-man crew in a country with 60 percent unemployment.” The Gengels opened the orphanage with a dedication ceremony in January 2013.
The Gengels wrote a book, Heartache and Hope in Haiti: The Britney Gengel Story, chronicling their moving and inspirational experiences. U.S. Representative from Massachusetts James P. McGovern accompanied the Gengels on trips to Haiti, and he wrote the forward to Heartache and Hope in Haiti.
Gengel earned degrees from Becker College (formerly Becker Junior College) and Central Connecticut State University. He and his wife, Cherylann, live in Holden, Mass.