June 11, 2015

Thoughts for the Next Generation of Associate Member

It wasn't that long ago...
It's been great writing next generation articles these past several issues. I covered as much as I could without writing a book, but trust me, that may be whats next in my near future!
One person I wanted to "hear" from was Lenny Yanchar, an associate member from my local home builders association (HBA) called the Shore Builders Association of Central New Jersey. Lenny has been, for me and quite a few others, a great mentor, psychiatrist and "face smacker" when needed. Lenny has deservedly won many awards but three that I know of that I believe are amazing are; 
  1. New Jersey Builders Association's Legend of Housing 
  2. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Associate of the Year
  3. The NAHB Society of Honored Associates inductee                        
I am proud to bring Lenny's thoughts to you and I hope that you will find wisdom from his words or at the very least an understanding of our past associate leaders that continue to be mentors. 

From me to Lenny: THANK YOU, my dear friend.

 Thoughts for the Next Generation of Associate Member

Lenny Yanchar
After reading the Association Maximization series of generation shifts articles, I had to look back at my time in the association, and one thing became very clear to me; as much as things change they remain the same.

I joined the National Association of Home Builders in 1974 and was there just to get business from the builder members and some associates. After a few meetings, and after not getting any business, I had a heart to heart conversation with a builder who said “if you want to do more business with the builders get involved.” I ask him what he meant. His answer was very simple; “learn all you can about OUR industry.” Not quite understanding how that would help, I took his advice and joined a couple of committees.

Now the rest is hindsight because at the time I could not see how getting involved was going to help me with gaining business or where it would lead to down the road. After joining different committees, I met and worked with the executive officer and many other people. At first I felt out of place but after awhile I started to share my ideas. Some of the committee members would say “I have sat on this committee for years, that will not work” however others would say “it’s great to have new blood with new thoughts”.

After a number of years I was elected associate VP of my local, started to serve on different committees and learned how much the government controls our industry. What I became aware of is what they did to that affected the builders and how it had a direct connection with regards to how much business I would have available for me to submit bids. Realizing that major factor in business growth for me I made a decision that I would work to end of the Us v. Them mentally, or known to us as associates v. builders. The more I worked on getting my peers to understand how important it was for us to work on making the association stronger the less I thought about business but at the same time I was gaining more business with better opportunities to follow.

A few years later another builder, who watched my work at the local level, said “why don’t you get involved in the state and help there?” I joined the state associate committee and within a few years was elected to Associate Vice President. That is where I ran into more of the “old guard.” Some, not all, who would say “this is a builders association and as an associate you want to take over the association.” However, and more importantly, I also met some of the best mentors who thanked me for what I was doing and guided me. Those mentors were Frank Farinella, Lenny Sendelsky, Jerry Hovnanian and Danny Pincus, all powerful BUILDER members who had the vision to recognize the value of associates “who get it.”

We also realized that the associates belonged to a lot of other organizations like the chamber of commerce, lumberman’s, elks etc. and many were looking for speakers for their meetings so we set up speakers and trained them on the issues that were affecting our industry to help get our message our on what the government was trying to do to our industry and how much it was going to affect the cost of housing. All of a sudden builders started to see we were there to help not take over. We were asked to serve on committees previously not allowed.

A few years later I volunteered at the national level, NAHB. I ran into the same two types of builders that I found at the beginning of my state volunteerism; those afraid to let go and others who embraced change. We worked very hard to prove who the associates were and why we wanted to help at national. I must say from my perspective the associates made quite an impression and today are involved at very high levels!

Looking back I realized that I was someone who came looking for business and found so much more than just business. I found a family of builders, remodelers, associates and HBA staff who all learned to work together for the common good, OUR industry.
I also have learned over the years that there are two types people we called the bleeding deacons (the ones who fought change) and the ender statesman (who mentor and try to just be there to guide and not control). My final thought and question is what type of member are you? The next generation has a choice as they begin and progress through the HBA ranks, just as I did and hundreds of others since my plunge into the pool. I wish you good fortune and best of luck. Thank you for your volunteerism and, when the time is right, be that mentor for the generations who follow.

Best Regards,


Rich Robinson said...

Great article Lenny! You are a legend and, just like Mike, a great role model to the "next" generation. Thank you.

Randy Strauss said...

Very well said Lenny, and thank you for your contributions to our federation. R. Strauss