September 30, 2013

NAHB Designations: "A Unique Benefit That Pays"

I have been asked, more than once, why my name is followed by letters and what the letters stand for. The letters CGA (Certified Graduate Associate) and CGP (Certified Green Professional) are two professional designations I earned through NAHB Education. I connect them with my name, because I earned them but  I also would like to have the designations made known to you as a National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) benefit, "unique education," 
I have tried to find other sources for building industry specific education and all roads keep leading to NAHB. It makes sense; an organization designed to protect, promote and grow the building industry should be the leader in giving the best industry specific education.  The education truly is specific, not generic like other programs that offer "one size fits all" professional growth education. 

Reading about designations can't hurt and earning them certainly could help personally as well as professionally, I would ask that you take the time to improve, maybe even start, your continuing education.  

 NAHB Designations: A Boost to Your Bottom Line (click here)

Find out more about obtaining a building industry designation  by clicking here.

Learn more about NAHB's Education Committee (click here) 

Submitted by Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP

September 23, 2013

"Bylaws Are Not Just Once in Awhile"

The Merriam Webster's Online Dictionary defines bylaws as; "The rules and regulations enacted by an association or a corporation to provide a framework for its operation and management."
The reason our national, state and local home builders associations (HBA) have bylaws can be summed up in 4 primary reasons;

  1. Consistency - rules and policies, in the form of bylaws, can be applied on a consistent basis so that no one person or group can dictate.
  2. Efficiency - bylaws include procedures for decision making so that the business of the association can be conducted efficiently.
  3. Protection - bylaws protect the group from internal conflict and financial risk as well as straying of course regarding overall mission statement.
  4. Legitimacy - bylaws give the members assurance of the mission, structure, and policies of the association. 
The local HBAs have their charters with The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). NAHB bylaws (click here), as they pertain to the locals, are like a set of blueprint specifications, meaning "equal to or better than." Bylaws can be amended when times change to allow for modern day situations that may not have been present when the original bylaw was implemented. One bylaw in particular, "that the chief elected officer, at least one other corporate officer, and the majority of the members of the Board of Directors of such groups are builder members," seems to be one that is not consistently observed. There are some locals that have had an associate as their chief elected officer of the local HBA.  

This issue has been discussed at the national meetings within various groups and committees, as recently as the NAHB Spring Board Meeting in Washington, DC this past June.

Two points;
  1. This is a builders association and the chief elected officer (known as the president) needs to have "skin in the game." That would be a builder member. Builders deal directly with the legislative and regulatory roadblocks that constantly occur when building homes, risk their capital, hope that they bring the home in under budget, or at least at budget, and sell to a qualified buyer. This is not to say associates don't take risks but at the end of the day their number 1 primary "risk," as it pertains to the home building process, is maintaining overhead while waiting for the builder to actually engage in the building process and persuading the builder to buy their product or contract their service.
  2.  It is good for the image of the local HBA, from an external perspective, having a builder as president. Internally, it demonstrates a strong builder "ownership" of the local which makes it easier to gain associate dues because of builder presence and non dues revenue.
  1. The housing depression ended the businesses of quite a few builders.
  2. The home builder "survivors" now have to focus on their business as the recovery slowly takes hold. This may mean less time to volunteer builder leadership roles.
  3. Local HBAs were not immune to the dramatic downturn, with membership totals dropping at paces that few have ever witnessed and. along with the drop in numbers, a loss of sponsorship dollars and other non dues revenue.
Could an associate be president? Of course they can, from a managerial perspective, with a certain caveat; if they are qualified, meaning time served on the board and their individual talents demonstrate a passion for our industry, not their "bank accounts."

Associate members;
  1. strategically plan their business' direction
  2. create and manage budgets
  3. develop marketing plans that help with their branding efforts
  4. work with or manage employees
  5. they are, in some instances, community leaders
These items are a few of the needs of a local president.

The local HBA must exhaust every avenue in assuring that this NAHB bylaw be followed because it's not in the best interest of the HBA to follow bylaws once in awhile. The facts are evident; some local HBAs have had, or currently have, associates as presidents. NAHB will not recognize that presidency due to the bylaws. Bylaws either mean something or they don't. If they don't, then throw them all out. If they do, adhere to all of them. If you don't like one or a few, act to amend. When one bylaw is consistently broken it opens the door for others to be broken as well. 

There are only two actions that can take place; 
  1.  strict enforcement of the bylaw or
  2. an amendment to this particular bylaw that would have this sentiment as a rough draft;
  • Do to the increased hardship of attaining a qualified builder in a particular calendar year, an associate in good standing and thoroughly vetted by that particular local HBA's board of directors, serve no more than one year given the emergent situation of not having a president at all.
  • The local must demonstrate that they have a leadership program in place, with help from NAHB, and that they have a pool of upcoming builder candidates.
  • No one associate member can serve more than one year with multiple builder presidents in between
This is not to say that this is a way to alleviate stress on your nominating committee. In times of need bylaws have to be amended to allow for such emergency situations. But they haven't yet which means the bylaw is the bylaw. 

There should never be a bylaw change that allows associates to be president of a local, however, why have a vacant presidency, or worse yet, a builder who can not fulfill his or her responsibility due to their need to focus on business, but takes the role because of the pressure of "you have to" when you could have a qualified and vetted (by builders) associate manage the local for one calendar year. This ensures the local's strategic plan for growth and success as an organization.  A sail boat with out sails just drifts.

There is a "danger" of allowing associates to be installed as presidents without developing builder leadersyou will eventually endanger your state builder leadership pool, if you do not strive to strengthen your builder leadership pool at the local level,

The NAHB board of directors, with their makeup being 100% local members, needs to carefully review this situation because a good amount of locals are facing this potential situation and would look for a compromise, meaning an amendment. Because bylaws are not just once in awhile.


Submitted by Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP