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Coppola finds his match as NPBA director

He feels just as comfortable with a hammer and nails as he does mingling with politicians.

Building and leadership.

When former Port Orchard mayor Lary Coppola learned from friends that the Sequim-based North Peninsula Building Association was seeking a new executive director in July, he knew it was a match. Coppola was hired to replace FaLeana Wech, now communications and public relations director for the Building Industry Association of Washington, and started July 29.

Similar to the Home Builders Association of Kitsap County, the NPBA represents those in the building industry. The NPBA is affiliated with the BIAW and the National Association of Home Builders.

“We are excited to welcome Lary as the executive officer to our organization,” NPBA president Garret DelaBarre said. “The NPBA and its members are advocates for continual improvement of building and business practices. Lary’s background in both the public and private sectors make him well-suited to help us continue to move forward programs that align with our mission to provide quality construction in our community.”

Coppola, who turned 63 on Thursday, said the NPBA’s board has asked him “to aggressively pursue a strategic plan.” He said some of that entails him “reinvigorating” the organization’s Future Builders program, which teaches high school and college students about building. Coppola said he also handles government affairs and works to build membership. That has left Coppola, who will commute from his recently remodeled house in Manchester, meeting with several people daily.

“For me it’s still drinking out of a firehouse,” he said.

It is an opportunity he relishes, though. Coppola is listed on the NPBA as the former president and CEO of Wet Apple Media, which he and his wife, Dee, founded in 1988. He said he is happy to turn the operation over to his wife, who runs advertising sales, and editor Tim Kelly.

“The company is in good hands,” Coppola said. “Wet Apple is there to stay.”

Coppola, who said the non responsiveness of city officials to request to redevelop his former property on Tremont Avenue inspired him to run for mayor the first time, worked to attract and retain businesses through improved efficiency of permit processing. While serving as mayor from 2008 to 2012, he oversaw the Bethel Corridor annexation and was instrumental in the construction of the Bay Street Pedestrian Pathway, among several other projects.

The NPBA’s website also mentions a recommendation letter by the majority of the Port Orchard City Council, which states that Coppola “did more to move our city forward than any mayor in recent memory,” aided in his appointment.

He has been a member of the Home Builders Association of Kitsap County for almost 20 years and a member of its board for more than 15 years. Coppola also served as a state director for the Building Industry Association of Washington from Kitsap County for about 20 years.

Coppola, a Florida native, came to the Northwest in 1975 after a two-year building moratorium was imposed in Fort Lauderdale that brought construction to a “screeching halt.” After working in several states, Coppola came to the Northwest with the idea that he eventually would work on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System before returning home.

“We just got up here and liked it so much we decided never to go back,” he said.

Since losing his reelection bid by five votes to Tim Matthes, Coppola has applied to be Kenmore’s city manager and ran for the Kitsap County Commissioner District 2 seat.

“I was a finalist for a number of jobs and pretty much chose this one,” he said. “It’s really nice to be working for people that appreciate your skills and having you there.”

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