President's Message: Big Change, Bigger Value

President's Message

President's Message: Big Change, Bigger Value

SBCA is moving in a new direction to serve you even better.

We are very fortunate.

Our industry is served by a trade association that does great work to advance our interests and provide the support we need to grow market share. For those of us who have served on SBCA’s Board of Directors, we know intimately how lucky we are to have an incredibly stable association that works so hard on our behalf. 

While it is true that our association would not be the strong organization it is today without the people who have made it so, it is also true that nothing can remain static and continue to be successful. Our markets are continually evolving and we are all constantly pivoting our businesses to take advantage of the opportunities created by change. We do this because the alternative is our companies would otherwise become irrelevant and competitors would put us out of business.

The SBCA Board of Directors recognizes our association needs to adapt to the dramatic changes that are occurring in the off-site construction industry. While the desire to pivot SBCA has been growing for a number of years, ironically it was only through the disruption caused by COVID-19 that a new path for SBCA became clear in the past months. To understand that new path, it’s important to start with where we have been.

Since 1992, SBCA has been staffed by Qualtim, a company owned by Kirk and Suzi Grundahl. Kirk and Suzi have served respectively as the executive and managing directors of SBCA, and their employees have provided SBCA with a staffing resource since that time. Over these years, SBCA has leaned heavily on Qualtim to provide the association support that we have needed.

But no business relationship is perfect and change is inevitable. Over the years, there have been differences of opinion between the SBCA Board of Directors and Qualtim. Most of the differences were easily resolved. Some were not. As our industry’s markets and businesses evolved, the SBCA Board began pushing and pulling to take the association in a new direction as well. At times, the Board’s requests for change were met with too much resistance on the part of Qualtim. In the end, it became clear to every board member that a new approach was necessary.

The first decision we made in June of this year, was to take action to enable SBCA to have at least a core staff of its own employees. With this action, our plan was to continue to utilize Qualtim employees to provide some level of continuing service. In fact, in early September, both parties were in discussions to amend the current Management and Services Agreement (Agreement), however Qualtim rejected an agreed upon term sheet without a counter proposal. Subsequently, Qualtim has since given notice pursuant to the terms of the Agreement that they intend to terminate the Agreement in 18 months. 

SBCA’s goal remains the same. We want staff solely dedicated to SBCA’s mission and goals. To Qualtim, SBCA is but one of many clients. Our second decision was to hire an executive director independent of Qualtim, who reports to only his employer, the SBCA Board of Directors. When we looked at all the possible candidates for that new position, Jess Lohse was clearly the best person for the job!

Jess is a small business owner and has operated a lumberyard and a component manufacturing facility. He became involved in SBCA in the early 2000s and showed his strong leadership and communication skills (not to mention his passion for this industry) as a committee chair and as president of SBCA. After his presidency, he continued to serve on the SBCA Executive Committee and provided wise counsel until he closed his truss plant. It is clear to all of us on the Board that we will benefit from Jess’ leadership for many years to come.

The third decision is a natural outcome of the first two. The SBCA Board of Directors will play a more significant role in setting, shaping, and supporting the direction of our association going forward. We will continue to add direct staff over time to support Jess as he leads us through this 18-month transition period and beyond. Our relationship with Qualtim will continue over the next 18 months where as a service provider they can provide prompt, seasoned, and cost-effective services.

We strongly believe this new arrangement will enable SBCA to be more responsive to the changes we are seeing in the marketplace and provide even greater value to each and every member. If you have any questions, I encourage you to give any member of the Executive Committee a call. We feel confident about this approach and want you to feel the same. 

Mike Ruede, SBCA President