Changes Viewed As Positive By NARI President
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 v.p.,
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 future.
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 industry.
"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 said.
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."