Myth No. 1 — Trade Associations Aren’t Worth It

Are you kidding, why should I shell out 300 to 500 bucks a year to belong to NAHBR or NARI? Shucks, I can join some cheap discount club like a coupon book for practically nothing and get the same thing, so they say anyway. You know it sorta rings a bell, like the guy with a three-fender pickup who says he can do the same thing for half what you need to charge — there’s usually something missing. Well, there’s a lot missing — let me give you a couple good reasons why nothing is as good as the real thing, the working trade association.

Recently a good friend asked if I could recommend someone responsible for an important repair job on some apartments he owned. The friend is from St. Louis, a long way from the apartments, in Fargo, N.D. The local NAHB chapter in Fargo has been established for a long time, but I didn’t know any of the members but I do know one of the national directors to NAHB. One quick call to him and I had a name he said he would vouch for. Because Bruce (the director) and I have worked together on association initiatives over the years, he knew I wouldn’t put the guy he referred into a bad deal, so everybody wins.

What number at a discount club do you call for that kind of reference?

When the EPA and HUD are threatening to pass some really unreasonable and onerous regulations regarding lead safe work practices, what number at the “bargain barn” do you call to see what they are doing to protect your interest? When there are two candidates running for say the U.S. Senate and one of them is really anti-building, who do you call at the local flea market club to see how your business welfare is being represented or who they are supporting; that’s what NAHB’s BuildPAC is for.

Let’s see what you get — with the association like NAHBR or NARI, your membership represents clout; the bigger and more effective the association is the better it can conduct “advocacy” or getting things done that are good for your business or preventing things that are bad for it. Does the association make money? They may have reserves for slow times but they are essentially non-profit, spending all your money in your behalf. How about the club; what could make someone be willing to spend a couple million dollars just to get you to join? Well, my guess is, you pay a few bucks and give them your name, address, e-mail and phone number; trust me that’s usually a valuable asset and really saleable. Unless it’s your Uncle Charlie and Aunt Maude, chances are the folks behind the “club” have some profit motives and that’s OK but ...

If you ask me, the value of networking that allowed me to find a good company for my friend, my protection against mold or lead regulations, Remodeler 20 clubs, designations, advocacy, yeah and politics (that’s what runs the country remember) are worth a lot more than the price of admission. The association can give you a list of the benefits available to members and where your money and information goes — ask the “club” promoters for the same information. Is the free lunch still free?
Your trade association whether NAHB Remodelers or NARI represents you and your industry only; they may not be perfect but that’s who I want on my “6” when it counts, While you’re here ...

M M “Mike” Weiss has been a full-service remodeler for over 25 years. As an instructor for the CGR and CAPs programs, he spends many weeks each year on the road teaching other remodelers. He is also a past chairman of the Remodelors Council of the NAHB.

And while you’re here ...
Agree? Disagree? Want to know more or even argue? Send me an e-mail with your ideas or suggested topics, we’ll think about them and see what we can do.