Renee Zentz, Executive Vice President
(published in the March/April issue of The HOMEFRONT)
Welcome to the “HBA Year End Review”! You might think “Renee, why are you reviewing 2009? Really, 2009, over – NEXT…” If you spend 15 minutes and review the next four pages, I honestly think you will be inspired by the accomplishments made possible through your HBA membership. Keep in mind, these successes were only achieved by the literally thousands of hours you, our members, volunteer every year to further our mission of keeping housing affordable. If after reading this, you are not impressed or inspired, call me at 719-592-1800 x15. I would be happy to talk to you over coffee, my dime.
To really understand the successes of 2009, you must look at the decisions made by previous Board of Directors when the market was at its high. In 2005, the HBA Board was not sitting around blissfully enjoying the great market. They were preparing for the market “correction” that was coming. Strategic planning was in full swing. They looked at all the unique factors that make up the Housing & Building Association of Colorado Springs (CSHBA) including the Pikes Peak Regions’ governmental and regulatory structure. CSHBA leadership examined our internal structure, policies, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and pending threats. They did focus groups, sat through long and vocal Board and Executive sessions all debating and defining what the needs of the industry were and would be.
Much time was spent discussing and dissecting painful lessons learned from previous downturns and the ways CSHBA could have played a more active and effective role. CSHBA could only be successful throughout the predicted downturn by defining the areas in which our Association needed to focus so that we would not lose our way through what we now know was the worst recession of our time. Difficult and courageous decisions about the future of the CSHBA were made in this time. While the long-standing mission of the CSHBA was reaffirmed as the guiding principle, four critical success areas were identified as key to meeting our mission.
MISSION OF HBA
The Housing & Building Association of Colorado Springs is committed to promoting policies that allow for the production of safe, decent and affordable housing, and to enhancing the environment of the housing & building industry in El Paso County
Critical Success Areas
Increase Regulatory & Political Influence
While CSHBA has always been a leader in the political arena, the decision in 2007 to further strengthen Government Affairs by adding John Kisiel as VP of Government Affairs was a risky move when the market was heading toward a “correction”. The department was further shored up with the hiring of Marla Novak to provide regulatory-watch for our members which enabled Sarah Jack to focus on identifying, recruiting and assisting quality candidates. With this team in place, the calculated gamble paid serious dividends for our industry throughout 2009. The inside two pages of this report showcase the outcome of that effort over the past six months which could only be achieved through the work of many volunteer members .
Retain, Recruit and Engage Members
The Remodelers Council won an award from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) for recruiting the most members nationwide and for their overall recruitment campaign! Additionally, due to the effort of over 50 members during a two-day Membership Drive, our Association recruited the most new members in the state!
We also had another banner year of delivering diverse educational classes. These classes provided networking and marketing opportunities in technical, sales and general business areas for more than 1,500 individuals within our industry, shattering last year’s attendance record by over 30%. CSHBA provided other networking opportunities throughout the year with monthly member afterhours, Breakfast with the Builders, Trap Shoot and the increasingly popular Chili Wing Ding Brew Fest. All of these events broke records as members found strength and a release with other members in this difficult and trying year. These excellent membership recruitment, educational opportunities and office administration are due to the hard work of Shirley Rouse and Bridget Schawe-Green.
The Development Team, Trish Sorvald and Kirk Standley, consistently provide professional, fun, and wildly successful events for CSHBA and 2009 was NO DIFFERENT! Signature events such as Major Achievements in Marketing Excellence (MAME), 2nd Annual Remodeled Homes Tour, 56th Parade of Homes, Home and Garden Show, and the PAC/HBA Golf Tournament all exceeded expectations! This year the Colorado Springs Business Journal named the HBA/PAC Tournament “Golf Tournament of the Year”! Not only did Trish and Kirk exceed expectations, they blew them out of the water by adding two new events, the 2-man Golf Scramble and the Parade of Holiday Homes! The success of the Parade of Holiday Homes allowed CSHBA to contribute $4,000 to the Empty Stocking Fund!
Being proactive in a down market takes courage and true leadership. In 2008 CSHBA Board of Directors launched the website – http://www.ReadyNewHomes.com, designed to help buyers easily find new home inventory in the Colorado Springs area. 2009 was a banner year for the site, partnering with Gazette and winning $20,000 in state and federal grants. These grants provided the funding needed for website development and has positioned ReadyNewHomes.com to become the premier site in Colorado Springs for new home inventory in 2010!
I would be remiss if I didn’t boast of the many successes that HBA Cares, the philanthropic arm of CSHBA, had in 2009. HBA Cares continues to reach out to the community, connecting community needs to the skills and talents of the housing and building industry. Please take time to visit the newly designed website – WWW.HBACARES.ORG
It is said that CSHBA elects the right President at the right time. 2009 was no different. All of our accomplishments were under the leadership of Mr. Ralph Braden, VP of Nor-wood Limited. Ralph led his Executive team and Board by playing many different roles. Like all great leaders, Ralph never hesitated to lead, follow or push as needed. His leadership was always accomplished with respect, a calm voice and a thoughtful but direct word. Leadership in 2009 was truly “Top Drawer”.
Leadership development is a priority of CSHBA. The bylaws require that the Immediate Past President Chair the Leadership Development Committee. In 2009, Bobby Ingels with the Ingels Company, along with his committee identified 40 emerging industry decision makers and brought them together to participate in the strategic planning process and serve as leaders for many committees and councils. Six of these new leaders were elected to the Board of Directors – Mark Bussone, Joan Hathcock, Mark Long, Vince Shoemaker, Marc Towne and Dean Venezia!
Financial Sustainability & Fiscal Responsibility
Again it is important to flash to, 2002 – 2007. These were record years for events, membership dues and assessments. This success afforded CSHBA the ability to increase reserves significantly. In 2006, recognizing the market was turning, budgets were cut, expenses reduced and revenues put into reserves in an effort to weather the downturn that was then thought to likely be a normal “market correction”. In 2008, significant reserves were used to pay prior commitments, support ballot issues, and shore up our political future in the community.
Every year the budget process is rigorous. 2009 was more intense. The recession was in full swing and negative national news on foreclosures and nonexistent lending were compounded by the changing political climate. The leadership of HBA did what great leadership does – focused on their overriding mission and set a course to accomplish that mission. A quote from George S. Patton comes to mind – “Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what do, and they will surprise you with their ingenuity”
Knowing that 2009 was going to financially challenging, strategic benchmarks (or as President Braden so endearingly coined them “Canaries in the mine shaft”) were set with specific and difficult decisions to be made pending outcomes of each “Canary”. Most of the birdies were tied to the outcome of HBA signature events and under the careful watch of the development team. Through their extraordinary, unprecedented effort and with the help of many members all those “canaries” sang beautifully throughout the year. Translated – budgets were met, some exceeded! The only canary to waiver on his perch was membership numbers. Heading into the foruth quarter we were missing our membership goal by 50 members. Shirley Rouse and the membership committee held a 48-hour membership drive in November. The entire Board of Directors led the effort along with many other members and the Membership Canary came back to life! Forty-five new members and countless renewals were recruited and educated on the importance of membership in HBA! Our goal for membership was realized with the “Get -R-Done” HBA attitude.
2009 was a year of personal and professional growth for your HBA staff as well. It is important to take a moment to recognize some of the highs and lows the HBA staff experienced in 2009. On the high side, one walked down the aisle in holy matrimony, one became the proud foster mom of many kittens through the Humane Society, two cheered their sons’ first year of tackle football, and another’s son received his driver’s license. On the other side we shared tears having to say goodbye to staff members, loss of a family member, family and friends diagnosed with illnesses, and other family challenges.
In closing, as a board member of the Executive Officers Council for NAHB, I have seen the inner workings of many associations and I can honestly say, hands down, that we have THE best leadership of any organization locally, regionally and I would even venture to say, nationally. Great leadership is a long term commitment. It is about looking into the future and having the courage to take risks. Your past CSHBA leaders strategically planned for the hard times when times were good. The current leaders understand that the time is NOW for a strong voice in our community, in order to be ready to lead when this industry turns, and it will turn. Paramount is our ability to protect and serve our membership by fighting to keep homes affordable and regulation reasonable through the promotion and execution of great public policy. We must work together to elect officials who are pro-business and recognize the important role the homebuilding and commercial building industries play in our local and state economy. Your continued support for the Housing & Building Association of Colorado Springs will allow this industry to be well positioned in the future.
Through the good and hard times, as staff, we are all grateful for the experience and support of our members as we go forward into another challenging and somewhat unknown 2010.
Executive Vice President