Colin Powell Opens Show, NAHB 2006 Leaders Inducted
More than 105,000 housing professionals gathered in Orlando, Fla. on Jan. 11-14 for the 2006 International Builders’ Show, making it the best-attended annual convention in NAHB’s history. Also shattering previous records, the Orange County Convention Center was filled with 967,000 square feet of exhibits showcasing the most innovative products and services aimed specifically at the residential and light commercial construction industries.
The four-day exposition began with grand opening ceremonies headlined by former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell.
The association’s more than 2,000 directors also elected their 2006 leadership team during their winter meeting in Orlando.
Inducted into office on Jan. 14 were NAHB President David Pressly from Statesville, N.C.; First Vice President Brian Catalade from Playa del Rey, Calif.; Vice President/Treasurer Sandy Dunn from Point Pleasant, W.Va.; and Vice President/Secretary Joe Robson from Tulsa, Okla.
Also continuing on the NAHB leadership team are Immediate Past President David F. Wilson from Ketchum, Idaho, and Executive Vice President and CEO Jerry Howard from Washington, D.C.
To read more about David Pressly in this issue of NBN, click here to learn more about his background and agenda for NAHB, or click here for more about his election as NAHB president.
An American Ambassador
Soldier, statesman and keynote speaker General Powell stirred the audience during the show’s opening ceremonies with reflections on his 40 years of service to the country and his assessment of America’s position in the world today.
For good measure, the general threw in humorous observations on such disparate topics as the state of U.S. relations with other countries and growing old gracefully into retirement.
On the number-one international challenge facing the nation today, Powell observed that terrorists can destroy our buildings and kill our fellow countrymen, “but they can’t change who we are.”
“As we fight terrorism,” Powell said, “let’s make sure that America remains warm, open, generous and outgoing. That is our greatest strength.”
Turning his focus to former Cold War enemies of the U.S., in particular China and the former Soviet Union, and how they have changed, albeit by fits and starts, Powell observed that China, with its 1.3 billion people who need to be clothed, housed and fed, represents new, more peaceful opportunities for the U.S., “as long as we do not let the Taiwan issue cause a war.”
Recounting a discussion with former Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev on a new glasnost reform policy to open up the Iron Curtain, Powell, a soldier who had served two tours of duty in Vietnam and one tour along the DMZ on the Korean peninsula and who had risen through the ranks to become chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, reacted with skepticism. “I am not your enemy," the Communist leader responded. "You will have to find a new enemy.” And that, Powell told the builders in Orlando, is something that he didn’t want to have to do because he had gotten used to the old enemy.
As the secretary of state, Powell said that he once brokered an agreement between Spain and Morocco in a dispute over rights to an island — a rock, really — off the coast of Morocco. The leaders of both countries insisted that he decide the dispute and would trust no one else. Their call came early in the day. Powell agreed to participate, with just one stipulation: that the leaders would reach an agreement before his grandchildren visited so he could go swimming with them.
On Japan: Powell noted that the Japanese prime minister was an avid Yankees and Elvis Presley fan, and he said that he was able to establish rapport quickly by discussing his acquaintance with the teen idol when the two were serving together in the Army.
On France: “We are in a more than 200-year marriage with France. The last 38 years have been in marriage counseling.”
On Iraq: While acknowledging that there have been some mistakes, he noted how the people of Iraq continue to brave the bombings and assassinations to reclaim their county and build a democracy. “We’ve got to stick with them,” Powell said. “We cannot get weak-kneed or weak-willed and walk away from this challenge.”
On the Middle East: Powell said he wants to see a “Palestinian state side-by-side at peace with the State of Israel.”
On retirement: Powell talked about how, after he retired, he bought a toy to celebrate — a brand new Corvette. When the folks at Chevrolet got wind of it, they arranged for him to drive the pace car — a bright red Corvette — at the Indy 500. During training for the event, he raced his vehicle at 150 mph down the back straightaway.
More impressive than that, he said, he led the Indy 500 — for three laps.
Along with nine other men and women, Powell said he was also recently out front when he was featured in a Time magazine article on growing old gracefully, ranked second between Paul Newman in the lead and Robert Redford.