Interviewer: In 1999, you started a foundation to support people and programs working to improve education, health care, the environment, housing, and humanitarian issues. What inspired you to start The Hanley Foundation?
Michael Hanley: “Starting the Foundation seemed to be a way to ‘give back’ after the great growth and success of the housing industry and our company’s role in that success.”
Interviewer: You started The Hanley Award in 2009 at a time when the housing industry was suffering. What prompted you to establish The Hanley Award for Vision and Leadership in Sustainable Housing?
Michael Hanley: “I wanted to create an award that recognizes the passion, dedication, and genius we’ve seen from those leading the way toward sustainable housing, that supports their continued contributions, and that inspires the work of others in this field. This is a critical time for sustainability to take hold in the housing industry and set an example for others.”
Interviewer: How are sustainable building practices good for society overall?
Michael Hanley: “The world is using up energy resources at an alarming clip. Because such a big percentage of energy is involved in housing, making a difference here will have a profound positive effect in energy use. People used to say I was the ‘big picture’ guy at Hanley Wood. I consider sustainability for the country and probably the world – to be the big picture.”
Interviewer: How can sustainable building practices reshape the housing industry?
Michael Hanley: “By showing builders and architects (and the eventual home buyer) that they can be proud and prudent by doing the right thing. Incremental savings and life cycle cost savings, particularly in a home, can do good for the planet and for homeowners’ pocketbooks at the same time.”
Interviewer: What qualities or contributions do you look for in a Hanley Award winner?
Michael Hanley: “The judges look for a person or organization that have not only made a big difference with one project, but have a track record in sustainability over their careers. We look for people who are leading by example.”
Interviewer: The Hanley Award winners and nominees come from a variety of professions. What do you think prompts people to be innovative wherever they work – a government agency, a small business or a large corporation?
Michael Hanley: “At Hanley-Wood, Mike Wood and I encouraged innovation and creative thinking about new products and we were optimistic about the future of the industry.”
Interviewer: What other types of projects does The Hanley Foundation support?
Michael Hanley: “The Foundation supports local entities helping provide shelter, like Friendship Place in Washington, D.C., the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington, and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, along with many others.”
Michael J. Hanley Biography
Michael Hanley, Chairman, founded Hanley Wood with Michael Wood in 1976. Under Hanley’s leadership, the company published the number one magazine in the homebuilding industry (Builder), the number one magazine in the remodeling industry (Remodeling), received the prestigious Jesse Neal Award for editorial excellence in six different years (1989, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1995, 1999), and launched HBRnet, Hanley Wood’s award-winning internet portal.
In 1994, when Hanley Wood had $25 million in revenues, the board Hanley chaired adopted a strategic plan with the goal of quadrupling the business to $100 million by becoming the leading media company serving the construction industry. With a combination of organic growth in the existing business and an energetic acquisition strategy, Hanley Wood achieved the $100 million goal in 1999, five years later. Among the most significant acquisitions were The Wells Group, renamed Hanley Wood Marketing, Home Planners, and The World of Concrete, one of the 10 largest trade shows in the U.S.
Along the way, Hanley and his partner were recognized by Folio on its 1999 list of the top 40 most influential people in the magazine industry and by Media Business (2006) as two of the top 25 business magazine entrepreneurs of all time. The company’s largest magazine, Builder, was named by Business Marketing as the best B-to-B magazine in the country.
In September 1999, Hanley Wood completed the sale of its business to VS&A Communication Partners III, a New York private equity firm affiliated with merchant bank Veronis, Suhler. As a result of this transaction, Michael Hanley retired from the business to form the Hanley Foundation, a non-profit foundation that provides funding for housing, environmental and other causes supported by Hanley and his family.
Hanley has served on the board of directors of the Business Publications Audit of Circulation, Inc. (BPA), the American Business Press, and the Business Press Educational Foundation (BPEF). Additionally, he was a director for Bill Communications, prior to their sale to VNU. He has been a visiting professor at the George Washington University Publishing Specialist Program and has been a featured speaker at many industry conferences and meetings. He is currently on the Board of Directors of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and consults with a variety of organizations.
Daughter Jennifer lives and works in San Francisco, along with her husband, Craig and their son, Jake. Daughter Gretchen also lives and works in San Francisco with her daughter, Zelda. Son Connor lives and works in Nashville. And youngest daughter, Casey, after recently graduating, is applying for law school in the Washington, D.C. area. Hanley and his wife, Kathryn, reside in Washington, D.C., with their yellow lab, Jackson.