They say hindsight is 20/20. But there’s another kind of hindsight: It’s the kind that looks at the past through rose-colored glasses. Lately, some aspects of the analog era—before the internet—are looking increasingly good.
I remember going to the office every day and expecting to see my colleagues there. That was not long ago. I remember calling people and having phone conversations. There was something slower but more effective about it versus emails and texts.
I also remember participating in local, state and national association meetings—primarily those connected to NARI, NAHB and NKBA—and seeing large numbers of professionals. Almost everything I know or learned about this industry came through my belly-to-belly interactions with remodelers, designers and home improvement pros.
When it comes to joining and participating in professional associations, it’s clear these groups are experiencing some type of inflection and/or disruption. Many of those my age, leading-edge Gen Xers, learned the business and grew their professional networks through association meetings. Younger professionals today are largely absent.
There are, of course, exceptions to this rule. Alan Archuleta, CGR, CAPS, GMB, was recently elevated to the chairmanship of NAHB Remodelers nationally. He’s in his mid-40s. He caught the association bug 10 years ago as a place to learn and get credentials.
I spoke with Alan about this topic of attracting the 20- and 30-something professionals to show up in bigger numbers. He agrees it’s a challenge to get their attention. It’s a challenge to get them to leave their young families in the evenings anymore, he says. Expectations about work-life balance have changed.
Another factor is the wealth of professional education information available on the internet, specifically on YouTube and Instagram. They are sorting through the good, the bad and the dubious professional information by trusting their instincts as to what is credible and what is not.
This is not a knock on associations. All of them are working overtime to create fun and festive networking events. Award programs are attractive too. In my rearview, rose-colored version of seeing bigger numbers of younger contractors participating in associations, I can’t help but wonder about the ways that associations must evolve.
Young pros are missing so much by attending the school of hard knocks and lessons learned. Many homeowners today experience bad remodeling as a result.
At the end of the day, it has to be about leadership and recruitment. Young leaders such as Archuleta can and will do a lot to recruit younger professionals. Old-fashioned recruiting is where the effort needs to be placed. Recruit young remodelers and show them the value of education, certification and belly-to-belly networking.
That combination is bound to help them succeed. For those who support associations, keep up the good work. We are at a demographic inflection point for membership. Bring a young pro with you to your local meetings. Carpool with them. Don’t let them off the hook.
Soon there will be enough young members experiencing all the benefits firsthand. Ultimately, they will boost membership and professionalism in the coming decades. The industry needs them. QR