Field Reps See NAHB Members Through New Lens

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Field Rep Tracy MacMaster (center) tries out the wares at a product demonstration.

Charles Liuzzo was driving through the cornfields of Nebraska to yet another meeting when it struck him. Dave Ashley was at a joyous event surprising a severely injured Marine veteran with keys to his new, mortgage-free home. Michael Blake Bezruki felt the locks tumble when he saw a small HBA launch an outsized – and very successful – workforce development program.

These were the “aha moments” for three NAHB field reps, now an 11-person team charged with ensuring that members learn about and understand all the services, programs, discounts and events available to them from the national office and from HBAs around the country.

The first five hired have a year’s worth of experience under their belts and a greater understanding of the diversity, creativity, struggles and hard work of the NAHB Federation and its members – and the payoffs.

“As I have gotten to know the members, I am just struck by their passion for the industry and for their communities,” said Region A Field Representative Anna Satterfield, whose territory includes large swaths of the Northeast.

“Every association I have visited is involved in a community service project, whether they are building wheelchair ramps or renovating homes, or raising thousands of dollars for charity. You see that passion in the efforts they put into their businesses, but it is also so evident in how they serve their communities,” she said.

And while service is a common theme, the field reps also see lots of differences. Larger local associations are more likely to have staff in contact with the national office and attend board meetings – and thus are more likely to be aware of, and tell their members about, the services and programs that NAHB provides. For smaller associations, a field rep visit is likely to be a revelation.

After a few months of visits and miles of driving from HBA to HBA, Liuzzo was reminded of the distinct needs of rural associations compared to suburban and urban ones. “Sometimes, that HBA in the middle of Nebraska can have more in common with one in the middle of Mississippi,” he said. But neighboring HBAs can be like night and day. “Even if their missions are the same, each HBA has a different personality.”

Builders –and their fellow Associate members – also know how to enjoy themselves. Region E Field Rep Tracy MacMaster was invited to attend a Builder 20 business meeting where she not only learned about how 20 Clubs can be key in helping members build their businesses – “Wouldn’t we all like someone to sit down and go through our books with us twice a year?” she pointed out – but also about the intricacies of actually running a home building or remodeling operation.

Bezruki was struck by the power of teamwork when he visited the Iowa City HBA to learn about the launch of an NAHB Student Chapter and a new mentoring program in partnership with a local community college to build tomorrow’s workforce. “Finding skilled labor is a real problem for our industry. Everyone talks about it, but not everyone actually does something about it,” he said.

“With donated time and labor and some really incredible organization, they were able to achieve something fantastic, and they did it under budget, and it got them right where they want to be,” he said. Now, other HBAs are calling and emailing Iowa leaders to see how they can do the same thing.

Ashley gets emotional when he talks about the work of the HBA of Raleigh-Wake County in North Carolina and Operation Coming Home, which provides homes for returning service members from donations of land, materials and labor from HBA members and their subcontractors.

Builders constructed a home with universal design features for Marine Cpl. Ryan Whiteman, who lost his left leg below the knee in Afghanistan when he was struck by an improvised explosive device while helping a fellow Marine.

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200 Marines march up the hill to Cpl. Whiteman’s new home.

“To be in the front row of that presentation ceremony, to see 200 Marines march by, and then to talk to him afterwards, it allowed me to be part of something that I couldn’t do on my own – to be able to be there and thank Ryan for his sacrifice and service is something I will never forget,” he said. “Ryan and his wife went went from a 500-square-foot apartment to a 2,200-square-foot house. And everything he was given was 100% donated by these members.”

To learn about scheduling a field rep visit, contact Michael Davey, NAHB director of regional field operations.

 

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