MEET BRIAN POPIEL

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Me: I am a Montana native, born in Glendive in 1975. My mother was a teacher and my father worked in construction. My earliest memories are from living in the daylight basement of married student housing at MSU. I graduated from Bozeman High School in 1993, when the graduating class was less than half the size of this year’s. I attended college at Gonzaga University in Spokane. Upon graduating, I returned to Bozeman to pour concrete and bend nails on local construction sites while coaching speech & debate and pursuing a teaching certificate at Montana State University. I taught high school History for a year, but returned to construction due to teaching position cuts. In 2007, on the cusp of the Great Recession, I started my own construction business, and in 2011 I expanded into recycling construction materials. Since then, I’ve been active in the Southwest Montana Building Industry Association, working to advocate for affordable housing and intelligent growth.

 

Family: My wife Sarah and I have been married for 18 years. We have two kids at Bozeman High School; Siena is a junior and KJ is a freshman. Siena is active on the debate team and KJ runs cross country. My parents recently retired-my mom from a 30 year career as a special education teacher, and my dad from the Bozeman Building Department-to move to Southern Utah.

Experience: It’s often said that you need two or three jobs to make one living in Montana. I’m no exception to that rule…

I have been a homebuilder for the last decade. I launched my business with the express purpose of building homes to the highest standards of energy efficiency in the most affordable price points possible. In 2009, we built one of the first LEED Certified houses in Bozeman, and have been delivering high quality, energy efficient projects ever since. Then, to address many of the problems with construction waste, we launched a second business to recycle construction materials in 2011.

 

Education: I earned a BA in Political Science and History (Honors at Entrance) at Gonzaga University in Spokane. I earned a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Montana-Missoula in 2014.

 

Affordable Housing Advocacy: I have been involved with the Southwest Montana Building Industry Association for my entire career as a builder, as a member of the board, as the president, and as the government affairs consultant. My tenure there has been marked by 3 major themes: advocacy for Green Building, education of building trades, and affordable housing advocacy.

In the last year, I’ve worked extensively with stakeholders across the Gallatin Valley to craft creative, effective, and replicable strategies to address the affordable housing crisis. My work has brought me to the table with leaders across the political spectrum in Gallatin County, Helena, and Washington DC.

 

Education Advocacy: Teaching the next generation of craftspeople, business people, and design professionals has been a long standing passion. In 2011, one of the first projects of the newly formed SWMBIA Green Building Committee was to teach a seminar on Green Building techniques to a group of architecture students at MSU.

In 2019, working with many of the same SWMBIA members, I launched a non-profit to teach construction skills to high school students. This spring, I have been working with 5 high school students to build a “Tiny House” as a trades education project.

Montana House District 64

Montana Legislature House District 64 covers southwest Gallatin County, and includes Four Corners, Gallatin Gateway, Big Sky, and West Yellowstone.