Builder Members, the Future Is in Your Hands
Over the past four years I have had the opportunity to travel all over my state of North Carolina and meet incredible folks from all parts of our industry. I have shared meals, discussions, bright ideas, dumb ideas, agreements and disagreements with builder members, associate members, suppliers, trades, local home builders association staffs, state HBA staffs and the NAHB staff.
Although the topics have been extremely diverse, there is always one consistent and all-too-familiar concern expressed at almost every occasion and that is — and I will stress “in general” — that builder members are not as involved as they should be.
Now before you flush this article into cyberspace, let me just say that I am not just throwing stones here. I am a builder member, and like many of you, one who is involved and has found value in my membership and my participation. But here are some of the truths I have hit upon, and I am exploring them in the hope that more builder members will become engaged in the business of our industry:
- Name one other association, federation or membership group that has our business interests at heart each and every day. What other voice will speak out as our building industry advocate? Name just one.
- Do you honestly believe that the regulatory pressures on our industry and our businesses are going to just vanish into thin air?
- Membership is the lifeblood of our association. Without vibrant and effective membership, we will cease to exist. Who will help us defend our industry and our businesses then?
- Our membership is made up of builders, associates (trade contractors and suppliers) and affiliates. The number-one reason associate members join is to be able to network with builders. When builder members do not show up, this access is denied, reducing the benefit of membership for the associate member, leading to a decline in members, revenue and the resources available to remaining members.
- On average, associate members make up a little more than 50% of the membership of an HBA and constitute 80%, or more, of the attendance and participation within each HBA — including almost 100% of the sponsorship monies used to pay HBA expenses — thereby reducing pressures to raise dues.
- Effective association advocacy is a direct byproduct of membership and the size of the membership. Think about it, who will an elected official listen to first — the voice representing 250 or the voice representing 250,000?
- Increased membership numbers translate into increased revenue — money to provide resources such as more and better continuing education classes; marketing opportunities such as parades of homes, tabletops, etc.; and networking forums at which additional sales can be generated and better business practices can be shared.
- With increased membership, we can more effectively give back to our community through Habitat homes, scholarships, help for the elderly, job skill education and more.
- Increased membership gives us a stronger voice in the local, state and national political arenas where the future of our industry and businesses may very well be decided.
Simply put, you and I and the rest of the builder members in this federation are the ones who can set the stage for either success or failure. We generate the construction projects that produce income not only for our own companies, but for all of the trades and suppliers who contribute to the final product. When we restrict or deny business to those who have joined our association because they want to do business with us, we are compromising the effectiveness of our association and the benefits of a growing membership.
When it comes to participation, there is a tremendous amount of “room for improvement” for most builder members. For the relatively few who are active, please bear with me. To the rest of the builder members in this association, I say get involved and do it now. I’m not saying you have to serve on a national committee, a state leadership position or on a local association board — although you would soon see the benefit from this level of participation. All I am asking is for you to start participating at the basic level — by attending your local association meeting maybe three times a year and by mentoring a new member while you’re at it, by talking to associates and perhaps beginning a new business relationship. Make yourself accessible. I don’t believe for one moment that anyone in our industry is so busy that they can’t dedicate three nights out of an entire year to what’s good for their association and good for this industry.
It starts and stops with us, the builder members. Our participation can make the difference between sweet success and bitter failure. If an admonishment applies to you, maybe it’s time to be honest with yourself and resolve to do better. It’s your choice.
Dave Stormont is president of the North Carolina Home Builders Association. He is chairman of the NAHB Custom Home Builders Committee and a member of the Single Family Small Volume Builder Committee.