Fred Taverna ’80 has built a career around his passion. This year marks Fred’s 40th Calhoun reunion, and as he reflects back on his journey from graduation to now, he has a lot to be proud of. Fresh out of Calhoun, he founded a construction business, which has since grown from a one-man show to three successful companies. And after decades in the industry, he finds that his work only continues to evolve and expand.
“[My time at Calhoun] definitely translated to how I think about work now—you set your own goals, your own pace and your own learning.” —Fred Taverna '80
Since he was a child, Fred always loved building things. He constructed robots at a young age, and begged his mother for his first drill when he was in elementary school. At Calhoun, where he started in eighth grade, he gravitated toward the sciences. He intended to major in physics in college, but by the time graduation rolled around, Fred had been bitten by the entrepreneurial bug, and took a year off to start his own company. He enrolled at Pace University, where he majored in real estate and insurance and juggled a full-time course load—all while establishing his construction business.
Calhoun was in the throes of innovation when Fred was a student here. Head of School Gene Ruth had just opened the 81st Street building with a cutting-edge open floor plan and an interdisciplinary, learner-centered program. Fred thrived in this progressive environment, which he said helped fan the flames of his entrepreneurial interests. “I found the [open space at Calhoun] exciting, useful and collaborative,” he recalls. “[My time at Calhoun] definitely translated to how I think about work now— you set your own goals, your own pace and your own learning.”
Fred, who lives with his wife in Pelham, NY, has two daughters and two sons—one of whom is already working alongside Fred in the family business. Currently, Fred is the president of NY Interior Construction and DaVinci Kitchen & Stone Works, and the managing partner of 7Haus Kitchens. Despite running three different companies, Fred shows no signs of slowing down. His drive and passion were obvious as he walked us through his modern showroom recently, talking animatedly about the current trends in space utilization. “Everyone wants open space and kitchens that can connect to the rest of their home, but those spaces need to be designed efficiently in cities like New York,” he noted, while opening cabinets and sharing design features. He also described an upcoming project to transform an abandoned waterfront mill into a complex of residential and business spaces, one of many ventures Fred is excited to pursue next.
When asked what he would tell a current Calhoun student interested in starting a business, Fred doesn’t hesitate: “Go for it,” he says. “There’s a lot of fulfillment in working for yourself.” His best advice to aspiring entrepreneurs? "Work for someone else first, find a mentor and learn from both their mistakes and their successes.” Fred has certainly learned a lot during his years in business, but like all great entrepreneurs, he’s not done exploring—and there’s no telling what he will build next.