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An informal happy hour for suburban Maryland home builders is now a quarterly breakfast meeting that caters to the younger members of the home building industry — giving them an opportunity to learn and network with their peers.
The Future Industry Leaders meetings of the Maryland-National Capital Building Industry Association are designed to attract home builders, service providers and trade partners looking for a different experience than the evening cocktail and dinner meetings that have served as the bread and butter of many local associations for years.
“The dinners are great, you learn a lot,” said Tom Hyde, director of land acquisition and sales at Miller and Smith, a Washington-area home building and development company. “But when 6 o’clock rolls around, we want to go home and sit on the deck or cut the lawn.”
Older HBA members usually don’t have the family commitments of their younger colleagues and enjoy each other’s company after many years together in the business. For members in their 30s and 40s, “it can be tough to break into the circle,” Hyde said.
Earlier this year, Hyde and Dave Kaufman, director of land acquisitions at the Craftmark Group, launched the Future Industry Leaders, inviting their happy hour group and other interested members of the home building industry in the area.
The hour-and-a-half-long events routinely attract 35 to 40 builders for breakfast and a roundtable discussion on industry trends, economic news and other topics of interest. “It’s a pretty good forum to get folks together,” Hyde said.
The key: “Get a dynamic speaker and make sure they are prepared,” he said. “We know who they guys are that everyone wants to know, so we started with the marquee names rather than someone who is a little too specialized.”
Recent speakers have included respected developers, engineers and longtime industry leaders who can give younger home builders a little more perspective because they have survived economic downturns in the past.
Hyde, Kaufman and other group leaders meet with the speaker before the event to go over the topic and prepare for expected questions.
“These are the big dogs, locally, and they have a pretty good idea of what they want to say, but they are calling on people with raised hands and you never know what’s going to come out of their mouths,” Hyde said.
The events are open to non-members as well, and serve as a soft sell for joining the association.
“All the speakers mention the importance of joining, but it’s not a membership drive, so to speak. Nobody in this group wants to get sold, so we don’t follow up with heavy marketing,” Hyde said.
Instead, newcomers learn through their own experience the value of HBA membership and the unique educational and networking opportunities it presents.
For more information on NAHB membership and local membership activities, email Gabrielle Alahouzos at NAHB, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8351.