POSTCARD FROM THE PANDEMIC: “People are scared, worried, but adapting. I see resilience.”

Luxury homebuilder Mark Molthan has been building homes for almost 26 years. He’s been president of his own company for 21 years. He’s married and has three kids — Blake, a sophomore at St. Mark’s, Molly, a senior at Booker T. Washington High School and Megan, a junior at SMU. Here’s how he’s dealing with the coronavirus at work and home.

On the state of business: Buyers are still confident. I’ve been through 9/11, the dotcom bubble and the real estate crisis. This is more surreal than even 9/11. This is like an unseen monster, and everybody I’ve talked to has the mentality of it will pass, but what’s the new normal going to be? People are scared, worried, but adapting. I see resilience.

His daily routine: Construction is an essential business. Here’s the weird part. I go home and everybody’s online and we’re sheltered in place, but I walk to the office, get in my truck and go to job sites. We’re working. I have a hand sanitizer and hand washing station. Before the contractors come in, we take everybody’s temperature. Everybody’s more careful, more respectful to each other. Then you go back out to the surreal world where I can walk out in the middle of Preston Road and not worry about getting hit by a car.

Restrictions: We’re not working on anybody’s houses that have people in it. If it’s a warranty call, we’re telling them to wait. I don’t want to go into people’s houses when they are sheltered in place. There’s no reason to take that risk. But we’re working on very large job sites and everybody’s spaced out appropriately.

His emotional outlook: I feel hopeful. I feel that we’ll get through it. It’s a “remember when” moment. I was making jokes with my kids last night at dinner, “Remember when we could go to a restaurant and there’d be people there and we’d order food and they’d bring chips to your table?” I think there’ll be a lot of changes. I think a lot of people are going to be healthier.

On his children’s schedules: SMU is online, so my daughter is set up in the dining room and she’s studying. St Mark’s assignments are online. Molly’s classes are on Zoom and her dance instruction is through Zoom as well.  It has been great to see her perform and also see how all of the kids adapt. It’s just the social aspect of school that they’re missing.

Current needs: I need hand sanitizer, gloves and thermometers.  They are impossible to come by. No one wants to be the person that gives it to the other. Everybody’s terrified for their jobs.

His advice: There’s nothing going on. You’re not missing anything. If you’ve got FOMO (fear of missing out), don’t sweat it. Everybody is at home.

The positives: We’re so busy all the time with the kids’ schedules — lacrosse practice, dance. Now we all sit down at the table and eat like old times. My daughter Molly does a deal called “Rose. Bud and Thorn.” We go around the table and share something you’re upset about (thorn), something you are excited about coming up (bud) and something you’re happy about (rose). In 21 years, I’ve never done a puzzle with any of my kids. We’ve done a puzzle two times and it was actually fun. It’s refreshing that people are reconnecting. Taking the dog for a walk is the highlight of the day. Finally, the phones are being put down.  It is actually nice.


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