Growing Up in the Business
Growing Up in the Business
I am honored and humbled to serve as President of SBCA this year, and I want to thank all of our members for entrusting me with this responsibility. I need to applaud Steve Stroder for the great work he has done leading our association over the past year; it was no small task. It has become obvious to me that Steve believes in SBCA’s mission and goals, both through his leadership of the association and his efforts to guide ProBuild in a direction that has made a positive and tangible impact on the survival and growth of SBCA during the tough times of these past few years.
The kind words and support many of you have shown me as I take on this role is greatly appreciated, and I feel blessed to be surrounded by so many intelligent and knowledgeable people dedicated to enhancing, growing and, in particular, taking on work that is dedicated to the only mission that we truly have—serving the best interests of our industry.
My father, Bob Ward, started in the component industry in 1960. He spent several years as a member of the Board of WTCA and also served as President in 1991. I have watched his love for this industry grow year after year. As a child, I can remember riding my bike around the shop floor when he had to work weekends to keep the place going. So you could say that I really did “grow up” in the business.
Frankly, the truss business is all I ever remember wanting to do. While in my fourth year of college, I had the opportunity to return home and work for the family business. I can remember how excited I was when I started. Have you ever been told to be careful what you wish for? Here I am (20 years later) realizing that, although we are part of an awesome industry, it’s real hard work, especially these last four years. Things always look easier from the outside looking in.
Fortunately, there were entrepreneurs like my dad, Rip Rogers, Dwight Hikel, Don Hershey, Staton Douthit, Koss Kinser, Lenny Sylk, Bill Alcorn, Jack Littfin, John Herring, Lee Vulgaris, Merle Nett and so many others who laid the foundation we can continue to build upon today. Their love and dedication for this industry should always inspire us to strive for excellence in all that we do in our markets—for our customers and fellow component manufacturers.
My goal is to continue their legacy and do all I can to draw attention to the many ways SBCA can help members build their businesses and this industry. With the entire membership aimed toward that goal, I truly believe we can effectively build the case that we are the future of framing. I think the article, “The “Un-Socialized” Marketing Approach,” in this month’s issue does a good job of illustrating how past pioneers perfected this approach and forged a path we can all follow in our own marketplaces.
We have faced several challenges this past year, yet I know there are many more to come. If you have any doubts about the strength of our organization, find anyone who was a part of the Southern Pine design value process and saw SBCA in action at the ALSC meetings in 2011 and the inaugural Lumber in Components Council (LCC) Lumber Summit in 2012. Our industry united in a way that we have not seen in quite some time. We brought an accurate, strong and credible message to the market, and our voice was heard. The outcome was a positive one that benefited members and non-members alike. It is crystal clear to me, personally, that had the outcome of SBCA’s work been different, our business would very likely have been harmed significantly.
Beyond building passion among our membership to reach out and use the tools created by SBCA to help educate engineers, architects, building officials and builders, I believe we also need to turn our focus on our growing employment needs. As the economy recovers and the housing market continues to grow, workforce development will become an even more important aspect of our businesses. Serving as the SBCA Management Committee Chair over the past few years, I’ve worked with staff and other members of the Board to bolster SBCA’s online resources (wfd.sbcindustry.com) to help us all bring new and skilled labor back into the industry.
In the coming months, we will continue to enhance this powerful tool, which allows employers to post job openings and people interested in getting into the truss industry to post their resumés. Over the past few years, so many good people have left the industry and have no immediate plans to return. It is vital we begin building a new crop of young workers to bring into the positions we need filled. It starts with each of us reaching out to our local technical schools, community colleges and even high schools, and SBCA will provide the support we need to make it easy to do.
I look forward to working with a number of you over the coming year as we tackle the many challenges facing our industry. Fortunately, with a strong association and a dedicated and determined membership, I believe there isn’t a problem we won’t be able to take head on.