One of our past presidents recently commented that we will look back five or 10 years from now and see 2015 as one of the most pivotal in BATC’s history. It’s humbling and a bit scary to ponder that thought because as your elected president, I take very seriously the charge you gave me to lead BATC well! Thankfully, I’ve got a great Board of wise men and women and a strong BATC staff providing counsel and guidance. I want to assure you that we seek in every decision to serve our members and our industry, meet our mission and achieve our vision.
As we enter Q4 of 2015, we can look back and see major progress on several initiatives; and several that are still developing. It’s really been a phenomenal year already.
Builder Day at the Capitol
It was a personal goal of mine to grow Builder Day at the Capitol this year, and that we did. We held the event in cooperation with our state association and I was proud that we registered some 250 for the event. We’re moving to the St. Paul Hotel in 2016 with room to drive attendance even higher. Mark March 15 on your calendar NOW and please come to this must-attend event that showcases the power and impact of the home building and remodeling industry on Minnesota’s economy.
A task force of bright builders and REALTORS came together to identify barriers to putting newly built homes on the MLS. The result? We engendered major changes in new home fields on the MLS — a huge accomplishment for BATC and our REALTOR friends. (See details on page 34).
Parade of Homes Research
It’s vital, with a 67-year-old tour, that we conduct the necessary research to elevate this mature but well-loved brand to the next level and meet the needs of the future buying public. The great news is that our Parade of Homes remains beloved and continues to play a central role in the buying behavior of new home buyers and those seeking remodeling. This research will drive our decisions for the next strategic planning process as we strengthen and enhance the Parade.See key findings beginning with page 12.
Regarding Parade of Homes, we act as if putting on two huge events is “no big deal,” but we need to stop and take a bow for continuing to execute flawlessly the largest Parade of Homes in the country, which continues to create great value for our members.
Artisan Home Tour
Our second annual tour was a tremendous success, with dramatic growth in the number of average visits per home and in the traffic at our top home. The Artisan Home Tour is of, by and for our builders, and directed by a unique committee of builders in the high-end space. Proceeds benefit BATC, which is working year-round on behalf of our industry, and the nonprofit BATC Foundation. We are hard at work on the 2016 tour, adding even more new features. We look forward to continued growth to serve this important segment of our membership.
We completed a comprehensive membership survey this year working with four MBA students from the University of St. Thomas. The survey revealed that BATC continues to be a much-desired association with powerful connections to its members. Overall, member satisfaction is exceptional
Housing First Sets Sights on 2016 Elections
Housing First, BATC’s independent expenditure Political Action Committee, has been a game-changer in achieving our strategic goal of being the premier brand for our members, and our vision to be the voice of builders and remodelers. Through Housing First, we run campaigns on behalf of candidates who are friends of housing. In 2014, we had a major impact on the election, working in cooperation with the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and Minnesota’s other major business trade associations. We’re now gearing up for the 2016 election cycle, which includes the Minnesota House and Senate, with a fundraising goal of $1.2 million. Equally as important we’re already preparing as well for the 2018 elections, which include the office of Governor. Most importantly, we’ve now established a culture and structure at BATC that will support Housing First for years to come, because a key to political capital is consistency of effort.
Home Builders Advocate Network
Yet another major initiative is now underway, designed to fill out our modern, comprehensive advocacy program. We have just initiated development of the Home Builders Advocate Network (HBAN), a grasstops network of well-connected BATC members who are engaged with state legislators and regional, county and city-level policy makers. Modern and holistic advocacy requires an engaged grasstops network, a robust issues advocacy effort, respected lobbyists and deep electoral engagement. With the launch of HBAN to complement Housing First and our stellar lobbying team, BATC moves closer to an advocacy effort that is at maximum power.
Discussions with BAM
You may recall that we began the year by seeking a substantial reduction in dollars flowing to BAM, with the idea that we could best use those dollars here at BATC for advocacy efforts on behalf of our membership. Our state association’s leadership asked that we reconsider our request and work through a process. As sincere partners in the discussion, we significantly modified our request, by asking that BAM reprioritize its budget to reflect a modern, comprehensive and holistic advocacy effort. We believe dollars can be redirected to the Home Builders Action Network, election activities through Housing First Network and an Industry Communications Fund to benefit our industry statewide. As I write this, we continue productive discussions with our state association.
Department of Labor and Industry Lawsuit
In a difficult moment for an industry still trying to recover from the great recession, the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry in 2015 instituted a new building code and a new energy code—the most substantial changes in codes since their initial adoption in Minnesota. Through the legislative process, BATC sought to remove a key provision of the building code—the mandate for sprinklers for homes above 4500 sq. ft. We had very strong bipartisan support at the Legislature, but ultimately faced a governor who has been immovable. BATC then turned to the court system to seek consideration for our members and most importantly, future home buyers. We sued the DLI on behalf of our members, challenging the code as arbitrary and suggesting there are less expensive ways to achieve similar goals. The case is pending before the Minnesota Court of Appeals with an answer expected in a month. Should we lose there, your Board will likely go the final step of seeking consideration by the Minnesota Supreme Court. Even if we lose, the very act of suing the state on behalf of our industry sends a powerful message to legislators and regulators in all departments that ours is an industry that will fight to protect itself and will stand strong on principles.
Minnesota’s Green Path Tops 4,000
Quietly, Minnesota Green Path, our green building program, continues to mount successes, topping 4,000 Green Path tested homes. Some 63% of the homes in the Fall Parade of Homes are Green Path tested, a record. We continue to work with our implementing partner, RSR, seeking ways to further grow and enhance Green Path. In one exciting new development, RSR and BATC are jointly producing the Minnesota Home Energy Efficiency Conference, with recognized national speakers in two interesting tracks. This conference is an unique opportunity to bring together builders, remodelers, raters, utilities, appraisers, REALTORS, building officials and mortgage bankers to engage in a necessary dialogue regarding energy efficient residential construction.
BATC Education Offerings Expand
One of the core functions of a trade association is to provide education for our members. BATC’s educational efforts continue to grow. At our annual Board Induction and Inaugural, we provide insights from a national economist. This year, we launched the mid-year economic outlook in July and more than 125 members joined us. We also reached more than 500 builders, remodelers and trade partners with our courses in 2015 on Minnesota’s new building and energy codes, and several hundred more attended BATC University. Equally as exciting, we launched in late 2015 the BATC Leadership Institute. Through this new Institute, 16 up-and-coming industry leaders will meet monthly at BATC to learn c-suite skills that will enhance their careers and build the talent pool for future BATC volunteer leaders. Finally, as we head into continuing education season late in Q4 and in Q1 of 2016, we’ve significantly revamped our curriculum and renamed our training program Contractor University. This will be a key year as we continue to strengthen and expand our educational offerings. The University of St. Thomas study said we’ve got strong value in this area, and that it can grow. They recommended a price reduction to match market standard, which we are implementing in 2016. We’re enthusiastic about our potential for the coming Contractor University series.
BATC Foundation Serves Those in Need
The BATC Foundation is really blossoming under the leadership of our Executive Director Perri Graham and a strong Board of Directors. We’re about ready to hand the keys of a brand new house constructed by build partner Accent Homes to the family of an Afghanistan war veteran who lost both legs to an improvised explosive device. We’ve remodeled the basement of a woman who developed an extreme sensitivity to light after an operation and are remodeling a group home called the Bluebird House for medically challenged adults. Further, we’ve become a chapter of HomeAid America, which focuses on homelessness and we are exploring projects in that area for 2016. Beyond projects, our Foundation spent much of 2015 getting its house in order with a new financial policy, investment plan and overall three-year strategic plan through 2018.
BATC’s Communications Capacity Grows
With all of this activity I’ve described above, communicating to our members and to key publics such as the media, policy makers, legislators and audiences is essential. BATC recognized a weakness in this area a year ago and brought on board a press secretary to give strength and consistency to our voice. We’ve made big strides, with our regular weekly Voice e-newsletter achieving stellar open rates; our Hot Sheet redesigned with a stronger graphic appeal; strengthened relationships with the media covering housing and active blogging and social media efforts creating engagement. Plans are in action to produce a quarterly e-newsletter for Green Path and a short monthly e-newsletter for Housing First and our Home Builder Action Network. We’re also at work launching a new Twin Cities Home Builder Confidence Index in cooperation with the University of St Thomas. Watch for its roll out in 2016.
Oh, and a Few Awards Too
We were thrilled to win a national award from Meeting Planners International recognizing how we developed our strategic plan and had it guide our events. Our own Nicole Coon, Meetings and Events Manager (pictured above), accepted the award in San Francisco at the MPI conference in front of 1500 attendees. And our Executive Officer David Siegel was named the Executive Officer of the Year by the Executive Officers Council of NAHB. He accepted the award at the Association Leadership Institute in Pittsburgh.
New Strategic Plan for 2016-18
Each activity above was tied directly to our three-year strategic plan from 2013-2015. We lived the plan and worked toward its achievement every day. Our Board meeting agendas were structured around the plan’s goals, as were our staff meeting agendas. It’s incredibly powerful when a group of leaders can coalesce around a direction and keep feeding logs into the fire. We’re about to develop our next three-year plan and I can’t wait to see what’s in store. For me as your volunteer leader, the most rewarding part of the “job” is ensuring that the organization has strong direction, is united in its efforts and that future leaders will build on the good work we did, just as we built on the work of those that came before us.