May 26, 2017

President Reagan's Memorial Day Speech

In honor of those who lost their lives while serving our country, I would like to share with you President Ronald Reagan’s 1986 Memorial Day remarks at Arlington National Cemetery...
"Today is the day we put aside to remember fallen heroes and to pray that no heroes will ever have to die for us again. It’s a day of thanks for the valor of others, a day to remember the splendor of America and those of her children who rest in this cemetery and others. It’s a day to be with the family and remember.
I was thinking this morning that across the country children and their parents will be going to the town parade and the young ones will sit on the sidewalks and wave their flags as the band goes by. Later, maybe, they’ll have a cookout or a day at the beach. And that’s good, because today is a day to be with the family and to remember.
Arlington, this place of so many memories, is a fitting place for some remembering. So many wonderful men and women rest here, men and women who led colorful, vivid, and passionate lives. There are the greats of the military: Bull Halsey and the Admirals Leahy, father and son; Black Jack Pershing; and the GI’s general, Omar Bradley. Great men all, military men. But there are others here known for other things.
Here in Arlington rests a sharecropper’s son who became a hero to a lonely people. Joe Louis came from nowhere, but he knew how to fight. And he galvanized a nation in the days after Pearl Harbor when he put on the uniform of his country and said, “I know we’ll win because we’re on God’s side.” Audie Murphy is here, Audie Murphy of the wild, wild courage. For what else would you call it when a man bounds to the top of a disabled tank, stops an enemy advance, saves lives, and rallies his men, and all of it single-handedly. When he radioed for artillery support and was asked how close the enemy was to his position, he said, “Wait a minute and I’ll let you speak to them.” [Laughter]
Michael Smith is here, and Dick Scobee, both of the space shuttle Challenger. Their courage wasn’t wild, but thoughtful, the mature and measured courage of career professionals who took prudent risks for great reward—in their case, to advance the sum total of knowledge in the world. They’re only the latest to rest here; they join other great explorers with names like Grissom and Chaffee.

Oliver Wendell Holmes is here, the great jurist and fighter for the right. A poet searching for an image of true majesty could not rest until he seized on “Holmes dissenting in a sordid age.” Young Holmes served in the Civil War. He might have been thinking of the crosses and stars of Arlington when he wrote: “At the grave of a hero we end, not with sorrow at the inevitable loss, but with the contagion of his courage; and with a kind of desperate joy we go back to the fight.”
All of these men were different, but they shared this in common: They loved America very much. There was nothing they wouldn’t do for her. And they loved with the sureness of the young. It’s hard not to think of the young in a place like this, for it’s the young who do the fighting and dying when a peace fails and a war begins. Not far from here is the statue of the three servicemen—the three fighting boys of Vietnam. It, too, has majesty and more. Perhaps you’ve seen it—three rough boys walking together, looking ahead with a steady gaze. There’s something wounded about them, a kind of resigned toughness. But there’s an unexpected tenderness, too. At first you don’t really notice, but then you see it. The three are touching each other, as if they’re supporting each other, helping each other on.
I know that many veterans of Vietnam will gather today, some of them perhaps by the wall. And they’re still helping each other on. They were quite a group, the boys of Vietnam—boys who fought a terrible and vicious war without enough support from home, boys who were dodging bullets while we debated the efficacy of the battle. It was often our poor who fought in that war; it was the unpampered boys of the working class who picked up the rifles and went on the march. They learned not to rely on us; they learned to rely on each other. And they were special in another way: They chose to be faithful. They chose to reject the fashionable skepticism of their time. They chose to believe and answer the call of duty. They had the wild, wild courage of youth. They seized certainty from the heart of an ambivalent age; they stood for something.
And we owe them something, those boys. We owe them first a promise: That just as they did not forget their missing comrades, neither, ever, will we. And there are other promises. We must always remember that peace is a fragile thing that needs constant vigilance. We owe them a promise to look at the world with a steady gaze and, perhaps, a resigned toughness, knowing that we have adversaries in the world and challenges and the only way to meet them and maintain the peace is by staying strong.
That, of course, is the lesson of this century, a lesson learned in the Sudetenland, in Poland, in Hungary, in Czechoslovakia, in Cambodia. If we really care about peace, we must stay strong. If we really care about peace, we must, through our strength, demonstrate our unwillingness to accept an ending of the peace. We must be strong enough to create peace where it does not exist and strong enough to protect it where it does. That’s the lesson of this century and, I think, of this day. And that’s all I wanted to say. The rest of my contribution is to leave this great place to its peace, a peace it has earned.
Thank all of you, and God bless you, and have a day full of memories."

May 20, 2017

Waking the Tightrope Betwen Volunteers and HBA Staff

Once in awhile I will write a blog article about "things" that bring my inside voice out. I know you are suppose to exercise patience and always allow intelligence to reign over emotions. I get it, I truly do. Yet there are other times where I have to let out those thoughts and go with the "ready, fire, aim" approach...

Pre-2008 was a time where membership in the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) hit an all time high and members were enthusiastically volunteering their time to help the local home builder associations (HBA) and state home builders associations with event planning, gaining sponsorships and everything else needed to help make each event or initiative be a success. Granted, not every HBA enjoyed a robust volunteer pool but quite a few had. During the housing depression quite a few volunteers withdrew, focusing on their businesses and careers with focus really meaning survive. Volunteerism at the HBA dwindled but didn't disappeared, however it certainly was way off the needed mark. HBA staff had to pick up a lot of the slack. When that happened, the way we volunteer changed. Staff became so involved, again out of necessity, that volunteerism morphed into a group that just gathers and is being updated on what will happen as opposed to volunteers once setting everything in motion. I am not saying this is happening everywhere but it certainly is happening in quite a few HBAs. 
This new era of volunteerism is so used to staff handling events and making decisions that our volunteerism ranks are well on there way to atrophy. This is the fine line; when do the old guard active members stand up and say enough? I'm old school when it comes to volunteering; if it's legal, moral, within the bylaws, in line with the HBA's mission, and within budget let the volunteers run with it. Staff needs to let volunteers ease back into being volunteers and. more importantly, HBA leaders. The atrophy is already happening as committee participation is dwindling and potential future leaders are becoming more scarce.

I don't have a fix as I'm just pointing to the 800 pound gorilla in the room and knowing the beast will crush us and our HBA creativity. I will make sure that I do my part in making staff well aware that I am quite capable to volunteer and I hope my fellow "old timers" who are wondering what the hell has happened to our association will take the same stand. It's the only way to rebuild our lifeblood of volunteerism. 

  • Young professionals take note; do and don't accept what you're being told as "this is the way we've always done."
  • "Old timers" work with the young professionals, guide them as to what a volunteer should be; passionate about success and volunteering for the betterment of the HBA not to better their business opportunities.
  • HBA staff; please keep remembering that the success of your association depends on successful events and initiatives. If you have volunteers that are amped up and ready to roll, as long as "it's legal, moral, within the bylaws, in line with the HBA's mission, and within budget" do not curb the volunteers enthusiasm. Embrace it, enjoy it, revel in the fact that you have others who care. Please don't interrupt the flow of conversation or interject counter to the discussion! Why alienate when you can alleviate. 
If we rely on a staff driven association the days of an engaged association will be a distant memory. Maybe that's already started.

Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP

May 13, 2017

NAHB Dues Hub Update: "We're Getting Close"

The Structured Payments project is moving along and we have five non-integrated pilot sites. As you know, the Builders & Remodelers Association of Northern New Jersey (BRANNJ), with the tremendous help of their Executive Vice President, Kathleen Kurpiel, is up and running.
The second non-integrated pilot, Metro Pittsburgh, came online last week. The other three non-integrated pilots are completing their data reconciliation and will be live before the end of the month.

A summary of the current status is listed below:

We also have the new name for the final project all but locked down. The NAHB Dues Hub is still expected to be available for adoption by non-integrated locals at the end of June. 
The first AMS integration is in the design and development process with MemberZone. It is expected to be completed by late June and should be available to their version 10 users. Both MemberZone and Billhighway are expected to be exhibitors at the upcoming Association Management Conference where they will highlight this newly launched program.

May 8, 2017

Seeking Skilled Workers to Build American Dream

Did you know that it takes an average of 22 different subcontractors to build a home?

Indeed, a home builder relies on a number of highly trained workers to get the job done right. This includes dozens of skilled artisans and professionals, including carpenters, architects, engineers, plumbers, electricians, painters and landscapers. Analysis from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) shows that 70% of builders typically use somewhere between 11 and 30 subcontractors to build a single-family home. 

After many workers left the home building industry during the Great Recession to pursue employment in other sectors, recent surveys show that not nearly enough of them have returned. As our economy and the housing market continue to recover, home builders across the country are seeking skilled workers to help them build the American Dream.

According to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics data and analysis by the NAHB, there were 138,000 open construction sector jobs in August, which was relatively unchanged from July. A National Association of Home Builders (NAHB survey of home builders further illustrates the depth of this problem. Six in 10 of those surveyed experienced delays in completing projects on time, 18 percent had to turn down some projects and 9 percent lost or cancelled sales because they had too few workers to complete their homes.

When builders are unable to schedule trades on time, it means that buyers are unable to move into their home on time. These delays and production logjams are hurting the housing recovery by increasing the cost of building homes and making housing more expensive for consumers.

Building Trades Offer Great Career Path

A home builder relies on a number of highly trained workers to get the job done right. This includes dozens of skilled artisans and professionals, including carpenters, architects, engineers, plumbers, electricians, painters and landscapers. Indeed, recent analysis from NAHB shows that 70% of builders typically use somewhere between 11 and 30 subcontractors to build a single-family home.  On average, 22 different subcontractors are used to build a home.

This means there is ample opportunity for motivated students seeking a rewarding career path. Residential construction workers consistently express high job satisfaction. Average salaries in all parts of the country remain competitive with other industries > Construction Salary By State.

This is important to understand; I am not saying your sons & daughters should not aspire to go to college. What is important to understand is that student loan debt will be a major financial burden on your children as they graduate and head into the real world. The below chart is an example of salaries as recent as 2016 in certain sectors:

click on picture to enlarge


 While the above salaries may seem in some areas better than construction salaries you need to factor in the pay back of college financing. Maybe your child excelled in sports and/or academics and earned a sizeable scholarship. I say God Bless but remember a much higher percentage of college bound students aren't so lucky.

The residential construction industry is one of the few sectors where demand for new workers is rising, and the housing industry is working diligently to meet this challenge by training more workers and leaders in the construction industry. 

Skilled trades may not be a career path for some but it certainly is a noble careee and one that has tremendous upside in actually seeing your work develop into someone's future memories.

submitted by Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGA