Connecticut Builders Swing for BUILD-PAC

Fiona with NAHB staff

Larry Fiano with NAHB staff

Yesterday golfers from across Connecticut swung their clubs and raised money for an important cause at the 13th annual Fiano Family Golf Tournament and BUILD-PAC post-play dinner. This fundraiser is a hit year after year — consistently attracting nearly 100 guests and generating over $50,000 for NAHB’s political action committee, which helps elect pro-housing candidates to political office.

What makes it such a crowd-pleaser: People involved in the event share the secrets of its success.

Larry Fiano was a major brainchild behind the tournament — and a reason it took off.  “Larry is considered the dean of builders in Connecticut,” said Eric Person, chief executive officer of the Home Builders and Remodelers Association of Central Connecticut. “When he calls you, you don’t say no to him.”

Fiano and others were inspired to try golf when they saw traditional Connecticut BUILD-PAC events were not very successful. A miniature golf course owner, Fiano said a real golf tournament didn’t seem too much of a leap — even though he claims he still can’t hold a club. Fiano encouraged builders to come, and they did — even in the economic downturn.

“Everyone saw my enthusiasm, saw that it was sincere and they jumped aboard,” Fiano said.

At 89, he won’t skip out on the tournament — and neither will his family, who travel far and wide to be there. Because of the Fiano family’s dedication, the tournament was renamed in their honor last year. He only recently stepped down as BUILD-PAC trustee after running the tournament for 12 years.

thegreen

TPC River Highlands

The event seamlessly combines a fun activity — golf — with a serious breakfast discussion about housing policy. Particularly appealing is that the tournament is held at the TPC River Highlands, host of the PGA Tour’s Travelers Championship. Many amateur golfers relish the chance to play on the same course as professionals.

“It’s exclusive, people can’t access this course just anytime,” said Bob Hanbury, chairman of the committee that organizes this event. “That’s definitely a draw.”

But before people start swinging their clubs, they hear about legislative and regulatory housing issues over breakfast. There also is a lunch and an evening reception.

“The breakfast is a chance to stress the importance of what NAHB is all about, what are our objectives and priorities,” Fiano said.

NAHB Chief Lobbyist Jim Tobin and a senior officer usually attend the breakfast and share their insight. First Vice Chairman Ed Brady joined in this year. Having representatives from the national office adds to the prestige of the event, Hanbury said.

Its consistency has brought back the same crowd over the years. Players look forward to the course, the networking and even the small gifts they receive — such as a golf ball imprinted with the NAHB BUILD-PAC logo. Sponsorship has been steady as well.

getting ready for golf

Getting ready for tee off

“What works is that it hasn’t changed much over the years,” Person said. “People know it will be an enjoyable day.”

Finally, the Connecticut event is a success because participants understand the importance of BUILD-PAC and its role in advancing the housing industry, said Greg Ugalde, a Connecticut builder as well as NAHB Immediate Past BUILD-PAC Chairman and State and Local Government Affairs Chairman.

NAHB’s government affairs team is addressing many important issues this year, including the expanded definition of ‘waters of the U.S.,'” Ugalde said. “We need a strong BUILD-PAC to help fight for our members on these issues. Here in Connecticut, we step up year after year and make this event a remarkable success because we are proud to be BUILD-PAC supporters. We know what the PAC can do.”

 

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