by Mike Carpenter, NCHBA Executive Vice President & General Counsel
Since its chartering in 1963, only once before has the North Carolina Home Builders Association (NCHBA) elected a President to serve more than a single one-year term. Phil Robinson, NCHBA’s second president, served successive terms in 1965 and again in 1966. Phil’s action allowed the fledgling state association to establish itself and become viable. Almost five decades later, history repeated itself with Gary Hill’s willingness to step up when his association needed him to do so. After completing a very successful term as president in 2013, Gary agreed to serve another term in 2014 when the then president-elect resigned from the senior officer ladder.
Gary’s unselfish action came under circumstances not unlike those faced by Phil Robinson. In the midst of recovery from the deep damage caused to our industry by the Great Recession, NCHBA benefitted from the continuity and stability provided by Gary’s two-year reign at the helm. Backed by a rock solid team of fellow senior officers and an
engaged executive committee during both years of his presidency, Gary had good help. Gary would be the first to credit his team and especially the contribution of Immediate Past President Erik Anderson, who likewise unselfishly agreed to serve an “extra” year in that post to assist in Gary’s second term. In addition, Gary was strongly supported by his wonderful spouse, Maureen, who was often at his side during his two years as president and throughout his entire tenure on the senior officer ladder.
There are few people who can match Gary’s experience in both our industry and in our association and fewer still who possess his remarkable ability to remain calm and steady during a crisis. His long record of active involvement with his local association, the Greensboro BA, prepared him well for the challenges he faced at the state level. We were
also fortunate that Gary, at this stage in his long career, possessed both the time and the unique combination of passion and commitment to take on this long tour of duty. Demonstrating this passion and commitment, Gary visited almost every one of our now 63 local associations across the state and, in many cases, more than once. He remarked on several occasions to our board and executive committee that despite our best efforts to deliver NCHBA’s message of accomplishment to its members, nothing does it more effectively than personal visits and face-to-face communication from its leadership. In turn, Gary made that a goal to be accomplished by his fellow senior officers and by our regional vice presidents.
In addition to improving communication, the association’s accomplishments under Gary’s watch were many. To summarize just a few:
• Membership has grown by more than 500 members during Gary’s two years in office. While membership has leveled out during 2014, based on this solid foundation, we expect to see steady growth as the industry continues its recovery.
• Returned NCHBA to profitability and increased NCHBA’s unrestricted net asset reserve. After finishing 2011 and 2012
with slight deficits, NCHBA posted a solid profit in 2013 and is on track to post an even larger profit in 2014. Correspondingly, NCHBA’s net assets have increased.
• Adopted a new three-year NCHBA Strategic Plan in December of 2013, which is being successfully implemented.
• Two highly successful sessions in which the General Assembly enacted the overwhelming majority of NCHBA’s legislative priorities, including prohibiting unnecessary construction inspections and mandating a six-year revision cycle for the NC residential building code; continued significant workers comp reform and regulatory reform efforts; completed efforts to fix NC’s broken unemployment compensation which will soon eradicate NC’s $2.6 billion debt; and environmental reform efforts including liberalizing the regulation of isolated wetlands. NCHBA’s regulatory advocacy has also produced significant cost savings for the membership, especially with respect to building codes.
• Presided over the “re-birth” of the 21st Century Building Expo and Conference. The 11th and 12th editions of the 21CBEC have significantly exceeded budgeted expectations and have seen both increased exhibitor and attendee participation.
• Continued NCHBA’s strong commitment to professionalism and education through the work of the NC Builders Institute; maintained support for vocational career educational opportunities; and awarded, via the NCHBA Educational & Charitable Foundation, eight (8) college scholarships to children of members majoring in residential-construction related careers.
• Both personally and through his leadership team and other members continued NCHBA’s strong record of involvement in the activities of NAHB including support of Rick Judson during his year as NAHB Chairman in 2013 and as Immediate Past Chairman in 2014.
While the foregoing highlights are all tangible, perhaps Gary’s greatest legacy will prove to be the intangible benefits he so freely bestowed with those he comes into contact with. His unfailing graciousness and friendly demeanor endears him to all. His optimism for the future, while well-grounded in reality, is likewise a source of inspiration. Gary will be long remembered for repeating history by answering the call of his association to serve a second term. Thanks, Gary, for a job very well done!