Growing Commercial Council Takes Vision, Relevancy
Leslie Mostow, CPA, principal of Bethesda, Md.-based Reznick Group and incoming chair of the National Commercial Builders Council (NCBC), has a vision for growing the council’s membership…and the ambition to get it done.
”I want participation and input from all involved,” Mostow says. “I like my group to tell me what they think, so I may lead them more effectively down the path or help them get to where we are trying to go.”
Where that path leads will be decided by an ambitious agenda put forth at NAHB’s recent 2006 leadership meeting. Not surprisingly, the council’s top goal will be to continue improving membership recruitment.
A CPA for more than 40 years, Mostow went to work right out of college for an accounting firm that managed numerous real estate transactions. He was responsible for handling the planning of construction projects as well as doing the tax work.
He later passed his CPA exam while attending a real estate Master’s degree program at American University. Although he did not complete the program, he was voted its outstanding student. Everything he has done since then has involved working in support of the real estate industry.
“Almost everything that I do and a major part of what the Reznick Group does revolves around all phases of real estate,” notes Mostow. For years one of the nation’s major CPA firms serving the real estate industry, the Reznick Group has specialized in commercial, multifamily and single-family real estate, as well as real estate investment trusts (REITs), affordable housing and tax credit consulting.
With more than 900 employees and six offices nationwide in Baltimore; Washington; Charlotte, N.C.; Atlanta; Sacramento, Calif.; and Chicago, the firm is very active in NAHB activities.
From Principal Accountant to Association Leader
In the early 1980s, a client active in the local home builders association suggested that Mostow become a member. Mostow took that advice and has been active ever since, even earning his RAM (resident apartment manager) designation.
Long before joining the commercial builders council, Mostow was an active participant in NAHB’s Business Management Committee and the Multifamily Housing Council and worked in support of several other NAHB committees.
Over the years, Mostow has brought a number of other Reznick Group staff into NAHB and they have become increasingly active in the tax credit group, multifamily housing and other areas.
Currently, Mostow is a life director of his local association and a state associate vice president of the Maryland Builders Association; he was recently named an NAHB life director during the International Builders’ Show in Orlando, Fla. earlier this month.
Making the Most of His Work-Life Balance
In addition to working with his team at the Reznick Group and participating in his local, state and national association activities, Mostow serves on the Maryland State Board of Public Accountancy. He was appointed to that position by the state’s current governor and by his predecessor.
Locally, Mostow serves on the board of the American Red Cross for the Washington, D.C. area. He also assists with fundraising for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and volunteers for the Annual Heartsongs Gala.
As incoming chair of NCBC, Mostow looks forward to a good year and hopes that the council is able to continue expanding. “Since I became involved with NCBC, we have been trying to spread the word about the council and the benefits of membership. That will be a major focus for us this year.”
Communicating those benefits effectively will be the biggest challenge for the council. “We just have to get out there and tell everybody what the council can do for them, which will hopefully expand NCBC’s membership base,” Mostow says.
He also shared several critical goals of the council this year and into the future:
- Recruitment: “One of the biggest challenges before this council is to further membership recruitment by growing membership in existing councils and establishing new councils at the local level. We need to work to identify active NAHB members who participate in light commercial construction and invite them to participate in council meetings and networking opportunities.”
- BUILD-PAC Participation: “Many commercial builders who are currently active in the council are also active PAC contributors and participate in our grassroots mobilization efforts. This will continue to be a focus of the council as it grows,” says Mostow, a Capitol Club member.
- A New Commercial Builders’ Designation: Creating a designation for NCBC is another issue the council will be exploring in the coming year. Mostow sees this as an opportunity to “reinforce the value of membership and should serve to boost participation in the council.”
- Changing Incentives: Mostow favors exploring creative proactive efforts to grow council participation, such as the initiative in Florida in which a local builders association pays a council member's initial dues, encouraging greater council participation and making it easy. “This went a long way in assisting membership recruitment efforts for the council in Florida,” he observes.
- New Clubs on the Horizon: Expanding the expertise and exploring the development of a commercial builders 20 Club or business diversification club is another avenue Mostow wants to pursue. Such a club will enhance the value of membership among its participants and help address the membership recruitment challenge.
- Building a Presence at the Code Debates: Having a commercial builder seated at the table in code debates would also serve to reinforce the value of council membership and assist with membership recruitment.
To stay relevant professionally, Mostow acknowledges the importance of continuing to learn every day. “As an accountant, I have to stay on top of new issues that arise and changes in accounting laws. And, of course, continuing education is a requirement for every Certified Public Accountant,” he notes.
For someone with his drive, identifying the qualities that make a great leader is easy: “Be a good listener, be flexible and be willing to adapt,” Mostow states.