This year the Wisconsin Builders Association is celebrating its 70th anniversary! It is an incredible milestone, and we are proud of where the association came from, and—more importantly—where it’s headed.  Our Director of Communications has spent part of her time this past year pouring over old photos, Badger Builder back issues, and archives to piece together the history of our first 70 years, and this special edition of the Badger Builder is dedicated to those memories. (You can also check out even more at wisbuild.org/70years.)

Anniversaries such as these call for moments of reflection, and I find myself looking back at the impact the WBA has had on my business, on Wisconsin, and where the future lies for our association.  

I’ll admit, I really didn’t realize how important my local and state builders associations were until I started getting involved after joining in 2011 (my father was a member for nearly 30 years), but, I can honestly say it was one of the best decisions I have made in my career.  While many might think making time for your industry takes away from your business, I have found that to be far from the truth.  

Knowledge, connections, and growth—these are what I’ve gained from my activity at the local, state, and national levels. As for knowledge, many members of this association are the owners or decision makers for their company, and their collective knowledge of this association is incredible.  Being able to work with builders or suppliers who have seen massive shifts in the country, and learn how they handled those situations, is both fascinating and valuable.  In addition, the professional and personal connections you gain when involved in an organization like this cannot be measured in terms of dollars, because—after all—how do you determine the value you place on a personal relationship, or knowing the right person to help you deal with a challenge?  You simply cannot build those kinds of relationships if you are not actively engaging with fellow members.  Lastly, my growth as a businessman through my involvement at all levels cannot be understated; giving back to an association often reveals areas for personal improvement, and I’ve raised my game as a result (and seen the dividends of my efforts in my own business). 

Besides the benefits to my business, I also think about what the WBA has done for our state during my time as a member.  This is an easy question to answer when you can simply look at our neighboring states—ones that do not share Wisconsin’s pro-business philosophies—and see how that’s turned out for them so far. While they are buried in rising taxes, budget deficits, and expensive code changes, we have been rolling back over-regulations and are currently at a historic low for unemployment.  The WBA has been instrumental in shaping that legislation to be pro-home building, and, as a result, Wisconsin families have more affordable housing options.  

As for the future of the WBA? With the historic announcement of Foxconn moving to Wisconsin and adding 13,000 new jobs, it looks bright.  Landing large-scale employers is a terrific sign for our state for many years to come, and underscores that Wisconsin has indeed become a destination to live and work.  With that said, the housing industry will need to rise to the challenge to provide affordable homes for this growing population, re-thinking home sizes and subdivision designs to meet the needs of new buyers along the way.  

And, just like the last 70 years, the WBA will be there again to support affordable housing legislation, push back against burdensome over-regulations, and ensure a future skilled trades workforce to meet demands.