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Meet your President

January/February Issue of Michigan Builder

I am looking forward to a challenging year. But first I thought it might be of some interest for you to understand a bit about myself and my business. So many times we make assumptions about the leaders of our organization without realizing that our leaders are no different than the majority of our members. We have just chosen to accept a leadership role.

I have been a home builder for 11 years. After discovering that teaching school was not the career I dreamed it would be, I worked for others in the building business for about 16 years. I started Powell Construction Services in 1998. We are a small volume building business with housing starts ranging from under 10 to the low 20's per year. Like most of you my business volume is significantly down; we are doing our best to survive these difficult times. I do some property development, a bit of remodeling, and maintenance work (usually for previous customers), but am primarily a new home builder. With business being what it is we do just about anything anytime the phone happens to ring, as I'm sure most of you are doing. I employ a small office staff to cover administrative, estimating, scheduling, and design. I also employ a team of high quality carpenters so that we are able to do all of our own finish work. I love what I do. I am now focusing on Green Building practices and have completed a number of Certified Green Built™ homes.

On the personal side, I have been married to my wonderful wife Vicki for 30 years and have 2 college age children. We live in St. Joseph in a marina community among 60 of my homes and customers. I'm either brave or crazy.

Everyone seems to ask me what I wish to accomplish this coming year. My answer has always been, "Whatever needs to be done." I look at it as service to the association, what the association needs. This association that has served all of us so well for so many years may not be the model of an association for those newer members, our leaders of the future. We need to acknowledge that what has worked for this association in the past, may not work so well for the next generation of builders and their associates. This association must be both relevant and sustainable into the future.

There are a number of areas that this association needs to focus on. We need to continue to be a Professional organization, for Building Professionals. We need to always do the right thing and we have been doing just that. Stand back and look at the new MAHB: the new transparency in decision making and operations, published and measurable goals, Green Built™ Michigan, HomeAide. These are a start of a new beginning.

Let me share with you the 7 areas I believe this association needs to concentrate on, starting this coming year:
1.Consolidation of locals: MAHB needs to not promote, but facilitate the changes the local associations may make to insure that each and every member is being served.
2.Core level of Services: What do we at MAHB owe to our members? What do our members expect of us? Are the services we provide of value?
3.Member retention: Our association loses more members out the "back door" than we currently bring in through the front. We need to help the local associations and make sure our members feel a reason to belong.
4.Committee structure and involvement: Do our committees have clear, logical and meaningful priorities for their work? Do members feel they are part of a group making important decisions?
5.Leadership training: I'm concerned as to where our future leaders will come from. Do we need to develop mentoring programs? We can't continue to have a strong organization without leaders.
6.Education and professionalism: We cannot think of ourselves as professionals, we cannot think of MAHB as a professional organization, without promoting and facilitating education of our members. I would suggest that all NAHB University of Housing designation programs should be attainable through classes offered in this state, achievable within a 12 month period.
7.Governance revision: We continue to talk about a change in governance. We need to stop talking about it, stop making small steps towards change, and leap into the future. We need to streamline our decision-making process and do it now, before we lose the interest of our newer members. We need to make meetings more meaningful and run our association in a more expedient manner. We cannot afford for our up and coming members to leave a meeting, look at their gas and hotel receipts and say, "Was it worth it?" We need to make better use of Regional meetings to formulate priorities and policy. Using modern technology we should enable members to participate from their hometown. Finally, the staff time and energy now being spent organizing and planning for board meetings should be spent on events that our members can use for the benefit of their business. Our younger members want to come to learn how to be successful, how to run their businesses, what the issues are that they need to talk to their legislators, town council members, planning commissioners, and local newspaper reporters about. We need to change our thinking: it's not what we want for ourselves or are comfortable with but instead what our customer, our future members and leaders, want and need from this association. To this end a task force has been established to develop a new governance model for this association.

Finally, I want to thank each of you for your support and encouragement, especially in the coming year. I am honored to serve each and every one of you.

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