Robert J. Adams honored with Distinguished Alumnus Award

GAINESVILLE, Fla. –Robert J. Adams, co-founder and president of Highland Homes, was awarded the Warrington College of Business Administration Distinguished Alumnus Award at the College’s Commencement at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.

“I am extremely honored and flattered,” Adams said. “I think about the number of people who have graduated from that institution in the 49 years since I graduated from there. I was completely blown away.”

Adams graduated from UF with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in 1961. The youngest of five children, Adams got his first taste of business around 10 years of age working at his father’s scrap-iron operation. Adams went on to excel as a student and athlete at Paxton High School. He said he was the only member of his family and one of only two members of his graduating class to enroll in college.

After a distinguished career serving in the U.S. Army where he was discharged with the rank of Captain in 1968, Adams began his ascent in business in Jacksonville with the investments department of Barnett Bank of Florida. He then went on to Florida Tile Industries, Inc., in Lakeland and was promoted to vice president two years later at the age of 27.

Despite a quick and prominent rise, Adams left Florida Tile Industries, Inc., and entered the construction business. Adams’ first foray into building was manufacturing mobile homes, but then converted into conventional home building. He co-founded Sun State Homes, which he helped transform into one of the state’s largest privately-held home building companies.

But his journey didn’t end there. After helping lead Sun State Homes for almost a quarter of a century, he and his son, Joel, began another home building enterprise named Highland Homes, which Builder Magazine ranked as the 84th-largest building company in its 2008 Builder 100.