May 30, 2014

Because the Grand Canyon Was Once a Stream...

The message for BUILD-PAC has been a consistent message, as well as persistent. As the blog title indicates, the Grand Canyon was once a stream. Through persistent and consistent flow of water it became one of the Seven Wonders of the world. Influencing members to contribute to BUILD-PAC is very similar; a constant reminding of value and importance gradually increases the size of PAC. While BUILD-PAC is not one of the other Six remaining Wonders, it does provide wonderful results for our industry.

Association Maximization is pleased to deliver another in our tremendous list of guest bloggers, Michael LeCorgne from Mandeville, Louisiana and Associate Vice-Chair of the BUILD-PAC Board of Trustees Executive Committee. Michael has been in the home building industry for over 30 years starting as a superintendent with one of the largest production home builders in the country, at the time, and has since covered many others areas of the industry throughout the Southeastern United States. He holds an insurance producer’s license for four states and is currently (14 years) a Risk Management Specialist with 2-10 Home Buyers Warranty.  Michael continually states how proud he is that 2-10 Home Buyers Warranty has encouraged and supported his continued involvement on the many HBA levels.
Michael holds the following NAHB designations: CGA, CSP, CGP, CAPS and is an approved instructor for several courses through NAHB Education. Michael also serves currently as the Vice Chair of the Associate Members Committee and serves as a member of both the Education Committee and the Membership Committee. Michael received BUILD-PAC’s Bill Polley Award as was inducted into NAHB’s Society of Honored Associates.

BUILD-PAC Message from Michael LeCorgne, Associate Vice Chair

Michael LeCorgne, CGA, CGP, CAPS
In the past, you have read or heard some of our past associate leaders’ thoughts and beliefs provided within Association Maxinization and all of these building industry professionals are truly vested in the continued recovery of OUR housing industry. Please note that I did say “OUR” housing industry as all members of the NAHB federation should be equally committed to doing all they can, both individually and as a group, to promote affordable housing, and housing initiatives. Associates have a saying, “If it affects a builder, it affects associates,” and that statement is true to its very core and is our associate mantra today and going forward.

In my opinion, advocacy is the very first place anyone should make a commitment. Although we don’t all have the same political beliefs, we should all do our part in making sure that housing issues and concerns stay at the forefront of those directing the decisions (legislators local, state and national) that have positive and negative impacts on our industry. The unfortunate part of politics is that often the “parties” choose not to work together to resolve issues that have an adverse effect on our industry. Even knowing this, we still have to work with the various parties and continue to massage egos, just to be able to hope that our issues might be heard.
I chose to participate in these efforts by being an advocate for BUILD-PAC fundraising efforts as well as increasing participation among the membership of NAHB. The message gets somewhat diluted when just a small fraction of membership participates in its delivery. With only 3% of membership participating with contributions, we tend to be a bit short on representation.  The associates’ contribution is just 1% of that 3% with only 724 associates making any financial contributions for our industry. Our 2 year goal for this cycle is just at $2.75 million dollars. Associates make up just over $250 thousand of that. My objective over the next year and a half will be to increase awareness and participation of associates on all levels. It is vital for all members to be vested in their livelihood! It is my goal to work with everyone to help more associates and builders to invest in our business, our success and our future. A minimal investment of only $20.00, which we can all afford, will go a long way, IF we can get all of our membership on board. A voice of 140,000 will be a much louder voice than that of 4,000!
Steady housing continues to be a stabilizing catalyst for the U.S. economy. By contributing to NAHB’s BUILD-PAC, I believe I am doing what all members of the federation should do to ensure that Housing remains a focal point for our legislators. I actively recruit BUILD-PAC participation from local, state, and national membership. I feel that not only do I “talk the talk”, but also “walk the walk”! I now ask for others to join walk. Let us all walk together for a brighter tomorrow in the housing industry.

When I first got involved on the different levels of various HBA’s and NAHB, I would sit in the back of the room and listen to what was being discussed. Every once in a while, I would speak up with a comment or question – for clarity and thought provoking discussion. Soon I was invited to sit “at the table” and thus started my involvement on a local basis. I thank those who mentored and encouraged me to step up and get involved on a national level, which I have done, with heart and soul. I encourage anyone interested in having their voices heard or those wanting to get more involved, to please reach out to myself, Kim Hefner, Associate Members Committee Chairman and Kathy Craven-Snodgrass, National Associate Chairman (NVP), or others that you may know that are involved for guidance and direction to taking the next step.
I have built many great relationships over the years and I look forward to building many more in the future. I hope to visiting with as many associates and builders as possible while in Washington, D.C. during our Spring Board meetings next week and share my thoughts about our future. As you may tell, I am passionate about the home building industry and its survival and I call on you to join me in this cause!

submitted by Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP

May 23, 2014

The True Meaning of Memorial Day

Memorial Day Weekend means quite a few things to many people. 

Some enjoy marking this weekend as the offical start to the summer and the sea breeze is calling...

Others take the three day weekend and plan the family and friends get togethers with the grills firing up.....

And still others set their alarms to head out for three day sales.......

The true reason, and one we should never forget while enjoying all of the above, is not the weekend but the day.....

Thank you to all of those who protected our country and to those who continue. 
God Bless you and God Bless America.

submitted by Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP

May 17, 2014

Open Mind, Logical Thoughts

 NAHB Associate Senior Leadership's Future

It seems like only yesterday that we were trying our most recent attempt to bring associates into senior leadership for our federation. As one of the national associate members who was out front of this initiative I was met with quite a few different opinions on this subject. Quite a few members were against the idea of an associate senior officer. The associate senior officer debate caused a rift in long time and valued friendships.

As you may know I can be strong willed and my goal for an associate to be a senior officer shut down my ability to listen to others’ thoughts that differed from mine. As time went by, and further from the IBS board meeting where the vote eventually took place, I had the opportunity to sit down and have discussions with a few builders to learn that their opposition wasn’t that associates should not be a non ladder senior officer. It was that associates needed to be considered for senior leadership the same way builders are considered; a principal of the company they work for and the same financial and business audits for certification. If the associate candidate is an employee, a minimum two year employment contract (coinciding with leadership term), with NAHB activities allowed and included under the contract, for the company they work for.

Imagine, for a moment, an NAHB actively engaged associate, who became the associate senior officer, and their employer either saying they can’t attend national anymore (happened more than a few times) or, worse, were laid off (think the last several years). How embarrassing for that associate as an individual? How damaging is that for the image of NAHB? I never took that into consideration when this proposed position was being hotly debated, and if I had listened to some of these builder leaders more carefully, I would have asked the moderator of the 2011-12 National Area Chairmen and National Associate Chairman, who brought this proposed bylaw change forward, to modify or table the recommendation, so the criteria that was being suggested could have been thoroughly discussed. In fact, a great percentage of members didn’t listen carefully to each other and valuable lessons were learned.

You know me and you know I’m direct and will say what’s on my mind. There are no hidden agendas with me. You also know that I believe that I have the best interests of our federation at heart and I will always follow the best path for builders to have opportunities to build so associates can have opportunities to work.

When I am wrong, I say I am wrong….. I was wrong. 


May 9, 2014

Associates: A Message That Could Help Our Association

Last week's blog article (click here) discussed builder members of our Association and how they should convince their respective vendors to become members of the Association. For builders, it is an easier ask because they have leverage; "I'm building, you want to sell to me but only if you are a member." Builders should not feel bad about leveraging their position. These vendors need to invest in the industry that supports them, through builder business. The staff at your local HBA will help these new members understand their new investment and help them realize the return on their investment that will incentivize them to make the investment year after year. 

One of the trickier asks in membership recruitment is for an associate to recruit builders who are not members because associates have next to zero clout. However, if the associate is well respected by their current customers, there is a trust factor that should provide a greater chance with builder recruitment. Below is a letter that could be utilized to help active associates recruit a good portion of their customers. With over 90,000 associates, NAHB has one helluva a sales force. At the local level, I would guess that 20% of your associates could be fantastic recruiters IF the local membership team provided talking points. If the associate is successful, and recruits builders for his or her local, you just expanded the opportunity to engage the new builder members' non member vendors. Hopefully the below letter from an associate could provide food for thought or be used word for word (I created it, you have my permission).

Each new member is like a drop of water. Little by little the pond turns into a lake.....

Dear Builder;
We have a great business relationship and I value your trust in me to provide (insert product) for your building projects. I know that you take an enormous amount of risks in this ever changing building industry as I’m sure legislation and regulation has changed your strategic plan more than a few times. 
One of the most valuable resources I have to keep track of your challenges as a builder is the Builders and Remodelers Association of Northern New Jersey (BRANNJ). BRANNJ is on the frontlines of our industry’s protection and growth, covering the builders’ concerns to the best of their ability. Being a member of BRANNJ gives me a 3 in 1 membership. Our industry’s state association and national association, the New Jersey Builders Association (NJBA) and the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) are powerful groups that provide advocacy in Trenton and in Washington, DC on behalf of all of us who earn a living in the building industry.

I have learned so much by being a member through the many educational programs, monthly publications and business connections I developed through my membership. I also know that the Builders Association gives my customers, such as yourself, the opportunity to build fine homes in New Jersey which provides me with more opportunities to continue my work with you. 
All members have a number of opportunities to save money on products and services they need today, but Builder members exclusively, have the opportunity to save money on products you are already purchasing through the HBA Rebate Program. Besides the Rebate Program, the NJBA’s benefits include affordable health plans for groups of every size (even single life groups), discounts on Builders Liability Insurance and much more. NAHB’s member benefits include discounts on automobile purchases, computers, office supplies, shipping, car rental and so much more.  In addition to these money saving programs and, perhaps more importantly, “free for members only” expert advice on legal issues, codes questions and many other related issues to help you survive in our turbulent industry. This invaluable advice can save you thousands in retainer fees and “by the hour” consultations.

For national examples, check out this piece by NAHB (add your state's value statement as well)....

Why am I writing this letter to you? I’ve realized that you are not a member of BRANNJ and I believe I wouldn’t be performing my job as a trusted trade partner with you if I didn’t at least make you aware of BRANNJ. I don’t make money for bringing you in as a member, however, the more builder voices we have as a united industry the better my chances of a successful career as a supplier/service provider. I invite you to come with me to BRANNJ’s next general membership meeting, as a guest of BRANNJ, to meet some of your builder peers. 
Through conversations with your peers you will realize what I explained above was understated! The next two meeting dates are mm/dd and start at 6:00 pm, end about 8:00 pm. I will sign you up for either one and personally pick you up!

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter and I hope you know how much I value your business and I look forward to enhancing our relationship through shared Association affiliation.


Your Sales Professional, CGA, CGP

Associates, a few notes to consider for your own letter:
  • The local invite for a general membership has to be approved by your president. If your local does not have this program, you may have to pay for the general membership. If you do, look at it as an investment in your relationship with the builder.
  • Insert your own state features, explaining the benefits, in lieu of my state, NJBA. You may want to add your local's feature as well.
  • Remember, you have a personal relationship with your customers. To what degree only you know but deliver the message without sounding too much like a sales pitch. Each message is tweaked to fit the recipient's personality.



2014 NAHB Membership Committee Chairman

May 2, 2014

Builders: A Message That Could Help Our Association

Over the past few years you may have read my message or hear me speak the words....

Nothing is truer in our industry and the only "problem" with the above statement is that it should read "if it affects builder members of our association it will affect their vendors" because not every vendor is an associate. (Yes, I know, not every builder is a member; that's for another upcoming blog.)
If you are a builder member who is currently building you have the opportunity to increase your local's membership immediately. Make sure all your vendors are associates. Sounds simple but maybe the following letter from one of my locals could help. This letter is designed to be included with job payments along with a membership application:

BRANNJ Builder
P.O. Box 123
Northern, New Jersey 12345

201-555-5555 Phone
973-555-5555 Fax
Month Day Year

Dear Sub Contractor, Supplier, Service Provider;

As most of you are aware, our company is a member of the Builders & Remodelers Association of Northern New Jersey (BRANNJ), a non-profit organization designed to serve and protect OUR building industry.  Within the last several years, it has become increasingly difficult and apparent that being in the construction business in the State of New Jersey is not getting any easier.  We have fought growth issues and a building depression with success; however, it is apparent that our industry is in further danger of legislation and regulation that could severely hamper our ability to sustain our chosen careers.

These challenges only reinforce the need for an organization like BRANNJ.  The road ahead is going to need as many of us as possible, united in our common interest; to provide affordable housing and renovations as well as the freedom to choose where one wants to live.  The support BRANNJ gives our industry greatly benefits all the subcontractor members, providing further business opportunities through networking, exposure and advertising, as well as technical support. 

Having said this, our firm has taken the position that we would deeply appreciate it if all subcontractors who work for us become a member of the BRANNJ.  We have set a goal date of May 30th, 2014 for all applications to be submitted to the BRANNJ.

We know that construction has increased over the several months due to an improving economy and rising consumer confidence meaning time to start new projects.  Be assured that we plan to align our firm with sub contractors who care about our industry.  I am hoping you are one of them. Included in this packet is an application for membership and benefits that will surely put money back in your bank accounts.

As an added point, the check you are receiving today for work performed for my company is, in large part, due the efforts of BRANNJ on behalf of the building industry.

Uniting together through BRANNJ will only help improve all of our futures. 

Builder Member, Inc.

The letter is simply written and the message on point; our association is helping to give builders the opportunities to build. If there are more opporttunities to build the vendors will have more opportunities to sell. If the builder can invest in our association through membership, then those vendors who are profiting from that builder's risk taking endeavors should invest as well. 

Not every builder will do this but imagine if the roughly 50,000 builder members each converted just one vendor, just one. NAHB would have 50,000 new members within a month's time. For a local, if you have just ten builders who are actively building, and each converted just ten vendors into members, 100 new members within a month. 

The key is that the builder members believe in the intiatives of our association and to have the builder members send out the letter. Some builders may not feel that it's right to ask vendors to join. My question is "why not?" I would think that by you keeping them in business by providing work, the vendors would at least be receptive to joining. The builder wins because the increase in membership helps the association. The association is stronger to help protect our members' business concerns. The vendors are adding voices to magnify our one voice in our state and national capitals. All by just including the letter, which you are absolutely free to edit, and a membership application in each vendors' payment envelope. Or, an email to your vendor on "payday."

Note: The Local HBA Cycle for Success will help to further demonstrate the need for successes for all of us (click here)

2014 NAHB Membership Committee Chairman