By the time kicker Martin Gramatica departed the New Orleans Saints, at the end of last year, he was hobbled by injury and had attracted the antipathy of Saints fans for missing a couple key field goals.
His exit from the team also marked Gramatica’s retirement, after eight years, from the NFL. But he never lost his love for New Orleans, and he and his brothers Bill and Santiago (also former kickers) are putting considerable energy and resources into helping revitalize parts of the city that have continued to languish after being destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.
The brothers are principals in Gramatica Group, a Tampa, Florida-based company that specializes in exterior insulation and finish systems, or EIFS, for residential and commercial construction. A story recently published by the Times-Picayune notes that the company is in the process of acquiring another Florida-based firm, Home Front Homes, which uses SIP construction to build energy efficient homes and commercial buildings. (Home Front points out that it was chosen in 2005 to build the prototype “Katrina Cottage.”)
The Times-Picayune explains that Gramatica Group’s plan is to establish a $5 million manufacturing facility in the city’s 9th Ward or in its Gert Town neighborhood. The plant would employ about 15 people and, just as important, become a convenient supplier of products used in the Home Front construction process.
So far, the Gramaticas have partnered with a nonprofit community group, SMCL Foundation & Associates, to build affordable, energy efficient homes on 15 properties. The Home Front panelized system is designed to reduce construction time and costs of a home whose walls and roof will offer thermal resistance of R-20 and R-30, respectively.
A 1,400-square-foot Home Front house can be put together in a matter of three or four days for about $125,000 in construction costs.
While a few of the readers who commented on the Times-Picayune story still seem to be wincing a little over Gramatica’s past troubles on the playing field, many praised him for coming back to address, in generous fashion, housing problems in the city’s low- and moderate-income neighborhoods.
“Kicking field goals is one thing, making an impact on peoples’ lives is another,” writes one reader. “You may have cost us a game or two on the turf, but that is compensated by your community efforts.”