In celebration of the Wisconsin Builders Association’s 70 years of ensuring safe, affordable homes for Wisconsin families, we decided to do a deep dive into our history and find out a little more about where we came from and how we have grown.  After all, learning from the past is a vital step to shaping the future, and we intend to be around for another 70 years and more!

At first glance, the task seemed overwhelming, as no such endeavor had been previously attempted. Boxes upon boxes of photos dating back to the 1950s, strewn about in no particular order, lay forgotten in storage. 58 years’ worth of Badger Builder back issues collected dust.  Past meeting minutes and data about our members waited to be discovered, and some items were unfortunately lost to time.  However, despite numerous obstacles, the story of our history slowly began to emerge and what a story it is! An inspiring tale underscored by countless everyday builders and affiliates working together—even during the toughest times—to make the home building industry better for all.    

The timeline here represents just a handful of highlights in the WBA’s path to the present day. More information, including photo collections, can be viewed at wisbuild.org/70years. We thank all members, past and present, for getting us where we are today—our journey would not be the same without you!

Wisconsin Builders Association founded in 1947, receiving charter from NAHB on February 22nd. Metropolitan BA precedes state founding in 1942. Sid Dwyer serves as first WBA President.
1947 – Founding of Madison Area BA & South Central WI BA.
1955 – First edition of Wisconsin Badger Builder.  WBA offices are located off the Capitol in downtown Madison.
1956 – Founding of Brown County HBA.
1957 – Newly formed WBA Legislative Committee set to “actively influence & originate legislation” holds first meeting. Badger Builder headline: “Housing Costs Rise 79% in Last 10 Years.”
1958 – Founding of Racine-Kenosha BA.
1959 – Badger Builder provides business opportunity alert: “Atomic fallout shelters offer a huge potential market for many builders…”
1965 – WBA offices move to Milwaukee area, & are—for a time—housed in & operated by the Metropolitan BA.  
1966 – Board of Directors adopt first WBA logo. Women’s Auxiliary is added to WBA bylaws. Founding of Eastern Ridge HBA (formerly known as HBA Fond du Lac/Dodge County). Badger Builder article asks, “Is There a Place for Higher Education in the Home Building Industry?” Design trend: “What’s New in Paneling.” 
1967 – WBA begins its “Builder of the Year” awards, with Donald K. Kilps of Metro BA as first recipient. Founding of Wausau Area BA. Design Trend: “What’s New in Power Distribution? More is Going Underground.”
1968 – WBA members meet at interesting conference center in Lake Geneva, headline: “Playboy Club Attracts Largest WBA Attendance.” 
1969 – Builders march on Washington joined by WBA members – “The age of protest has arrived for the building industry!”
1971 – Founding of La Crosse Area BA.
1972 – Founding of Chippewa Valley HBA.
1974 – WBA offices return to Madison, located in Tenney Plaza.
1975 – WBA holds first Legislative Day at Wisconsin State Capitol, & begins its “Associate of the Year” awards, with James Stoller of Brown County HBA as first recipient. WBA recruitment messaging reads “Deal first with HBA Members: Members Should Receive First Consideration When You Purchase Materials or Services. Don’t Buy From Free-Loaders.” 
1977 – Founding of Sheboygan County HBA.
1979 – Founding of Door County HBA, Lakeland BA, Manitowoc County HBA, & St. Croix Valley HBA.
1980 – Founding of Golden Sands HBA.
1984 – Design trend: “The Return of Hardwood Flooring.”
1983 – WBA offices move to 1438 North Stoughton Rd in Madison.
1986 – The WBA is first group to endorse then little-known gubernatorial candidate, Tommy Thompson.
1988 – Design trend: “‘Smart’ Residence Technology: The Impending Revolution.”
1989 – Founding of Northland Area BA.
1990 – Founding of Winnegamie HBA.
1991 – WI housing experiences a decade of growth compared to the rest of the United States. (“Single unit permits increased 12.5 percent in the nation and 44.5 percent in Badgerland.”) WI Governor Tommy Thompson Proclaims April as New Homes Month. 
1992 – Ground broken for new WBA headquarters building with Governor Tommy Thompson in attendance.
1993 – WBA offices move into newly constructed headquarters building at 4868 High Crossing Blvd in Madison, with official dedication ceremony May 6th. Founding of Headwaters BA.
1994 – Badger Builder features a “Keeping in Touch” article about the use of new cell phone technologies in the building industry.
1998 – WBA gets online. Founding of Mid-Shores HBA.
1999 – WB Foundation forms.
2002 – Mary Anne Moore-Church is the first woman to serve as WBA President. Founding of Heart of the North BA.
2003 – Founding of Wolf River BA.  Design trend: green building practices.
2006 – WBA reaches record-high member numbers.
2007 – Subprime mortgage industry collapses, leading into 2008 financial crisis & Great Recession. 
2009 –  Recession deepens.  2009 WBA President Doug Scott states, “So many people are struggling in our state, & across the nation right now, but you don’t have to go through this alone.” Badger Builder features article “New Kid on the Block: Social Media Marketing.” 
2010 – WBA endorses gubernatorial candidate, Scott Walker.
2012 – WBA has “Most Successful Legislation Session Ever,” including a variety of cost-cutting initiatives for builders & homeowners. 
2014 – WBA offices move to present location at 660 John Nolen Dr, Madison. WB Foundation partners with Seventhwave (formerly Energy Center of WI) to produce annual builder education conference. 
2015 – WBA rebranding features new logo, website, & communications strategies. Four WBA members serve in WI legislature. 
2016 – WI housing starts up 11% from prior year. Streamlined WB Foundation focuses on addressing labor shortage crisis by providing scholarships for WI students going into the trades.
2017 – NAHB notes single-family housing starts reach highest level since late ’07. WBA plans first virtual Member Meeting Day.