February 25, 2016

The Honor Was All Mine

There is a saying that goes something like this; "all good things come to an end." Well, there is some truth to that paraphrased statement. I'd like to think that all good things that come to an end, if they leave lasting results, really don't come to an end; they give birth to better things. This can be said for our national leaders as they progress up the ladder to NAHB Chairman of the Board. When their year is over as chairman, they remain, for their final senior officer year, as the Immediate Past Chairman. Then, it's off into the sunset. That's not a negative, it's a testament to the dedication of these individuals and it is a rest well earned. Five years of their life is given to NAHB senior leadership, five years away from business and family, five years given to each NAHB member. Yes, I know, you didn't ask them to make these sacrifices. That is the beauty of their leadership; they didn't need to be asked.

Kevin Kelly is one of those who I salute and I  would ask all of you to salute him as well. Kevin has been a friend and mentor to quite a few members as well as a champion of our industry. The legendary Leon Weiner, Kevin's late employer and stalwart of our industry, would have been most proud of Kevin and his tenure. 

I asked  Kevin to give me, us, a recap of his "time served' and I am very pleased to bring you his thoughts and I would like to say to him, from a personal perspective... BRAVO!

The Honor Was All Mine 

Kevin Kelly
As the 2016 IBS concluded, so did my term as an NAHB Senior Officer. It was the fastest five years of my life!  But what a privilege!  What an opportunity!  What an honor!

To be entrusted by your peers to lead NAHB as Chairman (2014) was the honor of my professional life. I can tell you emphatically that the senior officers that I served with, supported by our superb NAHB staff, were relentless in advocating for and defending the housing industry.  Additionally, we constantly worked to improve the services provided to members.

During my term I testified at numerous Congressional Hearings, personally met nearly a dozen times with Housing Secretaries Donovan and Castro, met with the President, sat across the table from Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke and later Janet Yellen, met with lots of federal agencies (OSHA, HUD, FHA, OMB, CFPB, FHFA, FNMA) that impact our businesses on a daily basis.  I was honored to speak at a White House Conference on Housing, met on four different occasions in the West Wing with the White House Economic Council, marched the Halls of Congress, spoke at Housing Symposiums around the Country…but the most memorable experience was to participate in the dedication of a home to a wounded warrior.

While carrying the message of “Housing” in our Nation’s Capitol can be an exercise in extreme frustration, visiting our local and state associations around the country is anything but!  It is uplifting and inspiring.  During my years as an NAHB Officer I crisscrossed the country to visit and hear from members at small, medium and large associations.  Visiting with members across the federation was like getting a shot of adrenaline – it always buoyed my spirits and renewed my sense of optimism for the future of our industry and our association.  At each visit I listened and learned.  The visits also served to reinforce the special and unique nature of our federation, the diversity of our industry, and brought into sharp focus the commonalities we share – the passion for our craft, the spirit of community, the generosity of our members, and the loyalty and dedication members have for their associations. 

As we know, our local associations are the bedrock on which the federation rests - I have repeatedly said the success of our local association and NAHB are inextricably linked.

To be prepared for my visits I tried to anticipate the questions many rank and file members have in the back of their minds but were often too polite to publicly ask: What has NAHB done for me lately?  Why should I continue to pay dues?  What am I getting in return for my investment?

These are valid questions and I had an obligation to answer them honestly and in an understandable manner.  With my years of involvement at NAHB, I knew what a bargain my membership was; I knew that there was invaluable work being done by staff and member volunteers that allowed me and every builder, developer, remodeler and associate in the federation to produce more housing at a far lower cost than would be possible without the work of NAHB. 

But the question remained:  How best to translate all that was being done so members could see the direct impact on their business, and better appreciate what a terrific return they received on their dues investment?  This was our challenge.

During my years as an officer there was a collective decision made to place a greater emphasis on addressing this challenge by better “marketing” NAHB. We needed to dramatically enhance and improve our communications effort.  Many steps were taken. One example was to tell members in a simple, succinct way how much our advocate efforts saved them every year.

One way to translate things was to stop talking in broad terms – “National impact etc.,”, stop talking about billions of dollars in savings and use a far more meaningful metric. This began in 2012 – Savings per Start.  In 2012 that was $7,250 per start; in 2013, $6,200 (remember the $6,200 bill that was handed out at IBS); 2014 = $6,882; and 2015 = $5,707.

But this is only one of a number of steps that we’ve taken.

Improved and more effective communication remains a work in progress at NAHB. NAHB reformatted its newsletter, bulletins and alerts to ensure they function as a quick reference.  Our new and greatly improved website was rolled out and is constantly being improved, but the work continues.

In reflection I can point with pride to the implementation of the EO Orientation Program (no cost to EO’s or local associations), the development and implementation of the “Field Rep Program” and to strengthen and enhance the relationship with The Executive Officers Council (EOC).

And the necessary and critically important challenge of increasing involvement of younger members in our federation – an outgrowth of the work of “Operational Efficiency Task Force.”

Thank you one and all for this extraordinary opportunity and privilege. The honor was all mine!


Larry Kady NAHB State Rep MA said...

Well said/done Mike... It has been an honor to work with Kevin and staff. Thank you Kevin again for your many visits as well as all your efforts on out behalf

Larry Kady NAHB State Rep MA said...

Our behalf ;-) small keyboard and big fingers...

Larry Kady NAHB State Rep MA said...

Our behalf ;-) small keyboard and big fingers...

Larry Kady NAHB State Rep MA said...

Well said/done Mike... It has been an honor to work with Kevin and staff. Thank you Kevin again for your many visits as well as all your efforts on out behalf

Howard Fortunato said...

Thank you Mike for sharing this with us. And to Kevin, of course, from the State of Delaware, to say we just can't be any more proud of Kevin is an understatement. Next time the readers of this blog are at NAHB in Washington, notice "Cornerstone", the granite sculpture in the lobby we commissioned as a tribute to Kevin's service. Howard Fortunato, EVP, HBADE

Anonymous said...

Kevin, thank you for being a great mentor to those of us that were trying to find our way in this great organization. You're insight and direction has been invaluable to me personally. Thank you
Dan Mitchell
Eagle CDI Inc.