Changes Viewed As Positive By NARI President

by WOHe

Changes Viewed As Positive By NARI

Chicago The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI)
has undergone a series of radical changes that can only spell
positive news for a trade association that has experienced more
than its share of problems in recent years, the organization’s
president said last month.

In an August interview with Kitchen & Bath Design News’
sister magazine, Qualified Remodeler, NARI president Les
Cunningham, CR, commented that “most of the changes we’ve made, or
are planning to make, are designed to improve NARI.”

In the past 18 months, NARI sold its RemodelAmerica trade show
to the National Association of Home Builders, revised its charter
and strategic plan, relocated its headquarters from Washington, DC
to Chicago, bought a new building, and replaced its entire staff.
Last month, the association announced the hiring of a new executive

Kevin McNulty, to oversee NARI’s day-to-day operations.

Despite these changes, however, Cunningham said he was
“extremely optimistic” over the prospects for NARI’s long-term

Cunningham termed as false “the rumor” that the association is
facing financial insolvency. “NARI has the money, the time and the
internal commitment necessary to achieve its strategic goals,” said
Cunningham, an Oregon-based member of NARI for 22 years. 

“We are facing some serious challenges, but we are excited about
our future.” Cunningham did admit, how-ever, that NARI “has not
managed its resources as well as it should have.”

“The RemodelAmerica show was losing money,” he noted. “There has
been too much turnover of staff. We have tried to force certain
things to work even though the market was telling us otherwise. In
some cases, we have not focused staff on correct priorities. The
sum of these problems is that budgets were overspent, the
organization was becoming stagnant and changes had to be made.”

Cunningham said that some of NARI’s challenges “are typical of
any business or organization” particularly one that is part of an
industry that has changed as profoundly as the remodeling

“NARI recognizes that the needs of the marketplace have changed,
and is working to give remodelers what they’ve been asking for,”
Cunningham reported. “I think we do a decent job already, but we
certainly need to get closer to our local chapters, national
members and individual members.

“We are working to turn NARI into a service organization, and
that’s a radical concept for a trade association.”

Cunningham stated that the most important goal for the
association now “is that we are going to focus on the needs, wants
and desires of our members. That has always been a hit-or-miss
thing because every year there has been a new president and a new
way of doing things.”

The NARI president noted that he and his two successors Anthony
LePelusa, CR, and Julius Lowenberg recently “agreed to a plan that
will bring continuity to NARI for at least three years. I don’t
believe such a team approach has ever been done before,” he

Cunningham noted that he was highly optimistic that NARI would
prevail through all of its recent changes. “Failure is highly
unlikely,” he stressed. “The only real risk to our success is if we
don’t change the way we’ve been operating.”

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