August 30, 2014

Teamwork and Loyalty

September is Associate Appreciation Month
by Kevin Kelly
Chairman of the Board
National Association of Home Builders

Kevin Kelly
When I decided several years ago to run for NAHB 3rd vice chairman I did so knowing that I would leave my state association with the full knowledge that we had a great leadership team and loyal volunteers in place. I knew that both builder and associate members would work together to keep Delaware’s home building industry on the right path. I also realized that our builders, as sharp and passionate as any I had been engaged with in the past, were only as productive as volunteer leaders as they could be with the help of our associate members. Associates have been, and continue to be, valued partners for our associations back home. As my national volunteer leadership grew, I had the chance to meet associates from around the country and realized that Delaware, while near and very dear to my heart, has great associates, who are equally matched in other states, which is a compliment as Delaware has “rock stars” in the associate ranks.
The loyalty our associates demonstrated during our worst economic event in home building history was amazing. They stayed the course and helped our builder members, the ones who could give time, keep our associations alive. I applaud the associates from all corners of our Federation.
September is Associate Appreciation Month and I would like to take this opportunity and thank you, Associates. Thank you for your efforts, thank you for your commitment and thank you for your passion. I thank you, as a builder for helping me. As NAHB Chairman of the Board I would like all builder members of NAHB to take the time, get to know your associates. Please invite associates to bid your projects. It is a great way of saying “thank you” but more importantly it is a great way of saying “builders and associates; the bond cannot be broken.”

September may be Associate Appreciation Month but it truly is a year long, every year way of life for me. Hope hope it is for all of you as well.

August 25, 2014

Tangled Webs

“Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!” - Sir Walter Scott wrote that in a poem in 1806. Its meaning could be interpreted in many ways but really it's all about  the age old method of lying. Lying has been a staple in the never ending battle of true reality v. hand painted perception. 
The Machiavellian approach to lying was very simple; "clever lies in order to achieve something. Some politicians utilize this method by setting the stage for a campaign designed to lie about the other candidate. Not just any lie but a lie that is meant to define the opponent in a negative way, a way that is counter to the voter's beliefs and values.
This type of lying has a devious and regularly used "next level" called disinformation. This is where the politician, and those from their campaign, take false information and deliberately misinform the public, knowing full well that what is being shared is not true or being excessively exaggerated for the sole purpose of winning the campaign. This method is used when a person running for office is hampered by inadequacies in their own story. It's used in U.S. Presidential campaigns all the time. When is the last time you did not see a negative ad? When disinformation is given it quickly turns into misinformation by those who take the disinformation and travel the path of least resistance. They would rather give what's given instead of asking questions to make sure they are correct. I would rather make sure I am looked at as a person who is educated on my facts then as a person who is just a vehicle to get someone else elected.

If you want to know the truth, ask those who have worked closely with that candidate. You want to really know the truth? Have a heart to heart conversation with the candidate you are hearing information about. This is called fact finding and after all we all want to understand the facts before we cast our vote. 

Voting is a privilege, why shouldn't campaigning be a privilege as well? 

What about the candidate spreading disinformation? Do you really want someone who starts off their term on lies or deliberate attempts to paint a false picture? If they can do that to get your vote what else will the lie about during their time in office? The phrase "go along to get along" is another form of lying. It's where a person, or candidate, will say what you want to hear, not what you need to hear, to gain your support. That is disingenuous and furthermore, it does not help the given initiative or overall goals or challenges. It harmful to any cause and, if you are involved in that cause, it's harmful to you. This is the very conduct we see in the House and Senate and what Americans hate the most about their elected officials. 

Beware the politician who takes to discrediting as opposed to highlighting; they are covering your eyes and when blinded while on a path only bad things can happen... to you.

August 18, 2014

Next Committee Meeting is Scheduled for...

The email comes; "next committee meeting." How do you feel? Are you looking forward to the "next committee meeting" or are you just trying to remember what excuse you used last time to skip it? How you answer is more a reflection on the committee chairman and those on the committee than on you, providing you are one who invests their time for positive results.                                                                    Being on a committee means taking time away from your "day job" you know, the one that your boss hired you to do? Or maybe you're the boss; closing up shop for a meeting is still closing up shop. If you are taking yourself out of the sales game for a two hour committee meeting there are a few things you should expect/demand from your committee chair (and if you are the chair, take notes);

  1. "Time is money" - Meeting starts at 3 PM? Start it at 3 PM. I get a kick out of the chair who is being conscientious for those who can't arrive 5 minutes before start time or even on time. You know the ones; 15 minutes late, make a big scene as they enter, talk as they are sitting down oblivious to the fact that there is a meeting in progress. Time truly is money as the punctual are delayed from returning to sales by the inconsiderate. Yes, there are exceptions to excuse being late but I'm writing about those who make it a constant. Make sure that the chair is letting everyone know that being late is no longer an option. Explain that it is not fair to those who are on time. And, yes, it's OK to fire a committee member if they keep up the selfishness.
  2. "Having a timed agenda" - Conversation happens, and some conversation happens longer than others. Let's make sure that your agenda has timed agenda items designed to move the meeting along. Obviously there will be times when a conversation is constructive and the flow of the talk shouldn't be stopped. However, if other items on the agenda need to be addressed as well It is perfectly acceptable to continue the conversation under old business or ask to extend the committee meeting if you believe time will run out. Just make sure discussions are discussions and not speeches.
  3. "Same old, same old" - agendas that cover the same topics over and over again either mean that a) the committee chairman is unimaginative or b) the committee really isn't necessary. I need to be on a committee that delivers growth, personal or business. I have zero patience for meetings that talk about the same things, ad nauseam. The committee must be a benefit to the association as well as to the committee member. If you can't trace any committee initiative back to a success it's a safe bet that the committee has run its course OR the chairman was a poor choice to lead. 
  4. "Excuse me, one conversation at a time" - People, please, be respectful. Private conversations are distracting and add nothing to the meeting. If you have something to say or add, raise your hand and be recognized. Talking when others are talking is just a very rude act and should be treated as such and dealt with, quickly. Asking the entire committee to be respectful should be every chairman's goal.
  5. "Sorry, I've missed a few meetings, but..." - You know exactly who I am writing about, the member who misses three or four meetings and now wants to use the committee time to be brought up to speed. Do not allow it. Minutes from last or past meetings are minutes for a reason. Send them out before upcoming meeting. Make sure all recipients know if they have questions or concerns to bring them to you before meeting. Sometimes you will have to agree to bring up a past subject if it's for the good of the committee or a particular initiative.
It's probably a safe bet that you have more to add, and comments are welcome. I focused on the above for a reason; it's time to stop rudderless committee meetings and place the emphasis on value. Value for the association and value for the committee member. 

submitted by Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP

August 11, 2014

Me, Myself and I

I grow very weary of the "me, myself and I" way of self proclamation, someone who constantly blows their own horn. Life is a team sport. Everything we do, we need others to help. When is the last time you truly did something on your own? Something as simple as painting a wall still requires someone to sell you the paint and brush. Making dinner on your own and saying I cooked it myself? You still had to buy the ingredients from someone else. No? You planted your own garden? Where did you get the seeds? My writing this article, while it is my thoughts being delivered I still needed a keyboard, monitor and computer to deliver the words to you. My point is no one does anything completely by themselves. No mortal anyway.
So why do people claim to have “saved the world” or at least things in their world? They need attention. There are some people I know that, after listening to them, you would think no one else took part in the success. A person who subscribes to the “me, myself and I” philosophy is self centered person and needs to be admired regardless of the complete lack of respect shown to the others who took part in the success. Warning; when you hear someone touting "I did this, and I accomplished that, and because of my actions this happened" run like hell, in the other direction. Placing a deserving person on a pedestal is done by others because of how that person was valued. Placing yourself on the pedestal is a very clear message to others, ones who can see through the fog of self praise, that that person is not a leader that will help you unless they can help themselves. There is always someone else who helped with the success.
Our association, from the local level up through the national level, has leadership. The successful associations, when seeking a leader, seek one who will be a team builder. When selecting a leader, the powerful associations select one that knows no one person can go it alone; it truly does take a village, as long as that village is for the village and not just personal success, or in this case, the village is our association. For any one or continuing initiative to be a success, we need to “kick to the curb” the mirror-image lovers. They won't have your back unless they can figure out away to pat themselves on their own back first.

submitted by Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP

August 4, 2014

You Do Whatcha’ Gotta’ Do

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) serves members in a wide variety residential building disciplines; i.e., single family, multi-family for sale, multi-family for rental, mixed-use and remodeling.  Collectively these groups support our national economy and support the concept that home-ownership is a key component of the American Dream.
As of May 2014, there are 40,933 builder members within NAHB. Of those, 80%, or 32,746, are classified as single family home builders.  During what our industry now refers to as the “Great Recession,” the period from 2007 through 2010, most of the above noted 80% turned to remodeling to survive. I recall hearing then that many NAHB remodeler members were quite “concerned” (polite choice of word) because those “single family” builders, in the minds of the remodelers, were destroying the profit margins of “genuine remodelers.” You have to forgive me; as a building material supplier I may not understand the subtleties of who decides who can build and what type of building they can or should, particularly when it simply makes good business sense to build what the market dictates and to provide product it demands.
Why am I writing about the above? Lately, I have been listening to quite a few members talk about multi-family home builders and how “they don’t understand” single family home building and the issues/concerns that come with that product. Hmm, sounds much the same as the remodelers when single family builders turned to remodeling. The fact of the matter is simple; builders will build what their own markets will bear and, again, what their respective market dictates. Here in my home state of New Jersey, once a Shangri-la of center hall colonials, we have faced tough regulations and legislation forced upon us by overzealous environmentalist influenced agencies and legislators. Those center halls turned into McMansions because of up-zoning and ¼ acre lots became 5 and 10 acres lots; all in the name of stopping development. Soon after, the McMansions dwindled because, once again, legislation and regulations choked the single family home builder because those builders adapted to the current market conditions.
Today, after the Great Recession, single family home building in New Jersey is still struggling to get back on its feet with multi-family, much like remodeling was several years back, being the only game in town. Or should I write “urban center?” That is, after all, where the state of NJ encourages building. Our builders (the shrewd ones anyway) have only one thought; “you do whatcha’ gotta’ do” and they set about meeting consumer demand.  Back when single family home builders turned to remodeling, did that mean that they forgot about single family homes as a product? Of course not. Those builders knew then, as anybody would, that “you do whatcha gotta do” to protect your livelihood, your family and, yes, any employees that work for you. And guess what? When the single family builders, those who did survive, left remodeling and came back to building new homes, they enjoyed the benefits of having learned another building discipline, gained a better understanding of customer needs and trends and they survived another year in a tough business! In fact, give me a builder who understands the intricacies and differences of single family, multi-family for sale, multi-family for rental, mixed-use and remodeling products, each with its own inherent issues and concerns, and that will be about as well rounded as any builder can be.
The past six months have shown me that single family home builders may have to reach back in their memories and realize that we, as NAHB members, have to embrace all disciplines in building. We also have to understand, and this is needs to be repeated and understood, you can only build what the market dictates and the product it demands. Just because you build one product doesn’t mean you don’t care about about another, or won’t defend and support the right to build other products in Washington or your own state capitals.  
We are all in this industry together, and if we are all to survive and then thrive, let’s remember that, “You do whatcha’ gotta’ do.”