Last week at the Baltimore Remodeling Show I attended the keynote address presented by Remodeling Industry Expert, Shawn McCadden. He shared his thoughts and insights about the future of the remodeling industry.
He challenged the attendees to be part of the solution to help solve many of the issues that confront our industry. On the topic of government regulation Shawn spoke about the effectiveness of trade organizations representing and furthering the wellbeing of residential contractors. He pointed out that the two main trade organizations (NAHB and NARI) do a nice job within their reach and capabilities. He pointed out that both organizations have great professionals representing their constituents.
However, he posed the question is it time for one trade organization to emerge as the main voice for our industry? Is it possible that two different trade organizations lead to confusion amongst contractors and consumers?
NAHB represents predominantly home builders. NARI represents remodelers and sub trades. Both have education programs to train contractors. Both have interests and dialog with government. Is it possible that one may serve the interest of the residential construction industry better than the other?
In recent months both organizations have strived to represent our industry's interest meeting with government officials on the RRP and Health bill amendments. These efforts albeit well intended, have done little to lessen the confusion over RRP outside of their membership. If you are not a member of either organization or read trade magazines you are likley to have little or no knowledge of RRP or worse, the wrong information. The EPA RRP Lead Rule continues to be an unknown to most contractors. To date only 10% of contractors have become certified. There is widespread misinformation even among the two trade organizations with combined members of under 30,000.
Is it possible that the numbers may be too small to achieve the measurable results the residential industry requires?
In contrast, Shawn McCadden revealed that the National Association of Realtors (NAR) has over 1.2 million paying members. When they lobby Congress they are over one million strong and thier voice is heard. They are self policing and govern their members with strong requirements. Shawn reported that this association just recently added $35.00 assessments for its members for 2010 and 2011 to support their lobbying agenda and other important items critical to the interests of their organization.
Would an organization of 1.2 million residential contractors have enough clout to rival the success of the NAR?
Shawn McCadden asked us to accept the challenge and responsibility to create our own path to success, not to wait for government to do it for us. Already we are too late on RRP. Our industry fell a sleep at the wheel and now the government is stepping up to the plate to protect children, pregnant women and workers. We now must comply with RRP and any other related regulations. For example in addition to RRP in Mass, contractors must provide proof of compliance with respirator programs, worker safety programs, blood monitoring, changing stations, personal protective equipment and more. Why didn't our trade organizations see this coming? And if they did why have they failed to preempt government intervention? The lead issue has been around since the late 1980's. OSHA regulations are well documented yet few contractors are prepared for the new reality of forced government regulation. I suggest we are where we are due to lack of numbers, education, training, money, vision and leadership that delivers meaningful results for the entire industry, not just trade organization members. There are many top notch people in these organizations that are committed, however the industry is thirsty for one unified voice that will lead our entire lot into the future.
Will one of these organizations emerge to be the true voice of the residential construction industry or is it time for a new trade association that will rival the clout of the NAR?
I accept Shawn's challenge to create and shape our own future and not wait for government intervention into every aspect of our business. I challenge you to join us by creating our own hope and change before government steps in and does it for us.
Please join us and contribute your thoughts to this important effort.