March 3, 2016
Our New Addition to the NAHB Senior Officer Team
Days go by and they turn into weeks. Weeks followed by months and before you know it another year is crossed off. In the world of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) a year can take a year or, if you're running for third vice chairman of the senior officer team, it can seem like a lifetime. I know for Greg Ugalde, our new addition to the senior officer team, this past year was a combination of both. It went by like a blur but it didn't seem like the day of election would ever come. It did and it was worth the wait. Greg is an outstanding builder leader from Connecticut and devoted friend of our industry and one that I have personally and proudly served with on more than a few occasions, most recently as fellow BUILD-PAC officers.
I asked Greg to give our federation a look at who he is and first glance of how he will be as one of our national leaders rising towards chairman.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Greg Ugalde
My Message to Our Federation
I’m celebrating five weeks today as a member of the Senior Officer team. And so far, it’s been a wild ride.
Don’t get me wrong: Being elected Third Vice Chair during January’s NAHB International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas is certainly a huge personal and professional milestone and a great responsibility, and I am very grateful for your support.
In the beginning, as you are trying to digest what everybody in the Federation is thinking, seeing everything that the Senior Officers deal with on a daily basis, it’s exactly like trying to drink though a fire hose.
But what I learned in the year of preparing for this position, what I heard as I talked to builders, remodelers, developers and trade partners around the country and what I know now about the depth and breadth of your association and its commitment to our business – well, I think that’s even more important.
First of all, the resiliency of our members is absolutely amazing. We have just been through the worst recession in our recent history, and those companies that survived are taking the lessons they learned through the hard times and starting to thrive in many parts of the country.
What’s holding these businesses back? Well, I don’t have to tell you that it’s getting harder to find employees and subs. Here in the Northeast, where I build homes, it’s not quite as noticeable as in other areas of the country where I campaigned. So many people left the construction industry during the downturn and haven’t returned.
That’s why workforce development is a top priority for NAHB right now. We need a skilled labor force, and we need to spread the word that home building is a great career. I am amazed at some of the great programs our HBAs have launched, from job fairs and career days and community charitable events to generate interest in the trades.
Another issue we are paying close attention to is appraisals. New homes are worth more than some appraisers seem to realize or banks are willing to acknowledge. We’re keeping the lines of communication open and the pressure on – and have seen some success – but will keep working.
We are certainly encouraged to see one 2016 Presidential campaign include the Housing Industry in its campaign platform. This has to open the door for housing to be a major issue. Advocacy is one of our Federation’s strengths and a personal core belief and strength as well. We have to take advantage of the Presidential election opportunity before us – watch for more details.
Fewer workers means fewer members, and many of our HBAs continue to see flat growth, especially in markets where home building still lags. That means there are fewer experienced, longtime HBA members to tell the story of NAHB membership and how it’s helped their businesses – and I know it certainly has helped mine. So that’s another huge priority for your association: To figure out how to make membership more relevant to today’s home builders and trade partners and keep our Federation strong.
I have found that people are definitely willing to embrace change to better our organization, but there has to be an educational process with that, one that involves the stakeholders and the general membership. It’s very much appreciated by our membership when they are able to contribute to the process, as long as we don’t drag it on to the extent that we become immobile and can’t change.
And on the national level, we are certainly encouraged to see one 2016 Presidential campaign include the Housing Industry in its campaign platform. This has to open the door for housing to be a major issue. Advocacy is one of our Federation’s strengths and a personal core belief and strength as well. We have to take advantage of the Presidential election opportunity before us – watch for more details.
We are a great industry. We don’t just believe in dreams, we build them. I can’t tell you how proud I am to be your representative for these next challenging, rewarding years.