For the completed, published article, click here.
For business owners — specifically small-business owners — membership in any given association is an investment. But the BIA of Greater Louisville works beyond the monetary value.
Its committees serve to remind its members of all the benefits they have available to them, including group insurance rates (workman’s compensation, health or general liability), networking, educational programs and advocacy. In addition, the BIA takes great pride in its members and encourages others to do the same.
Louisville’s BIA association started in 1946 with just 18 people. It’s now grown to include more than 2,000 companies, corporations and individuals involved in residential and commercial builders, remodelers and associates throughout Jefferson, Oldham, Bullitt, Shelby, Trimble, Henry and Spencer counties.
Within the industry, there are a lot of moving parts — which is why members of the NAHB Spike Club work to mentor new and existing members within their building associations to encourage engagement. The objective of the Spike Club is simple: recruit a new member and earn one credit; each year that member renews, the sponsor will receive half of a credit. Once a recruiter earns six credits, they are an official NAHB Spike.
Members learn the value of their investment during the process of retention. “What you put in to the organization is what you get out of the organization,” said PJ. Moore, director of community and business development for L&N Federal Credit Union. “Your builders, your remodelers, your commercial [contractors] — all these entities of companies belong under the BIA. We need builders, they need realtors, and in turn, they need lenders.”
Moore and the L&N Federal Credit Union have been involved with the BIA for more than 13 years, fostering relationships with other BIA members. She enjoys when each component of the building process works together. “It’s always rewarding to see that American dream come to reality and we need each other to make that happen.”
So, now that a new member has been recruited, the goal is to keep those members engaged. But renewals are never a guarantee, and that’s where the activation and retention committee comes in. Retention Committee members, along with the member’s sponsor, work to engage the new BIA company in the areas that most interest that particular new member. As mentioned above, each renewal offers the sponsor (recruiter) the opportunity to earn additional Spike credits.
Rob Eberenz Jr. has been a member for nearly 39 years. As a third-generation builder, Eberenz has built more than 500 homes in the Louisville market. He has served as president of the BIA (2012) and has participated on the Board and on almost every committee the association has to offer. Furthermore, Eberenz is the second-highest earner of Spike credits in the Louisville chapter. “Membership has always been an important aspect of what I’ve participated in,” he said.
It’s not all about the money, because the financial investment is accompanied by an
emotional one. “I think people who have joined or are involved in the association have become advocates of the association because, once you’re involved in it, you see what the association does for its members,” Eberenz said. “You’re just a natural salesperson, so to speak, about the benefits that are provided by it [the BIA]. When someone who’s not been involved joins and gets involved, and then you see how much of an advocate they are for the association, that’s rewarding.”
Economic and environmental factors serve as the antagonist in many Americans’ lives, and the BIA is no exception. “People retire, people move in and out of the industry, and some of the member companies consolidate,” said Jerry Ostertag, president of The Closet Factory. “We’re always constantly having to replace people as they move on so it’s a consistent effort.”
Ostertag and Closet Factory have been a member for about 20 years, and Ostertag has been involved in membership activities for the BIA for about eight years. He says turnover fluctuates from year to year; during recession years, the association is likely to see a lot of turnover.
Ostertag said power in membership translates to power in capitol buildings. “Being a member of the association means that we benefit each other for a much, much louder voice in Frankfort and Washington, and when we go downtown to talk to the mayor and the city council, they really hear us,” he said. “They know that we’re not some small group of people that they may or may not want to listen to. They really have to pay attention to us, and I think that makes all the difference in the world.”
Joining the BIA extends beyond annual dues. With proper engagement, new members can fully understand how to get the most of their memberships. Moore recommends communicating to both new and existing members what the BIA has to offer. “Suggesting small projects like urging members to join the associate’s council to help get them engaged and familiar with what’s going on in the BIA will go a long way,” Moore said. “I think that’s the secret to it.”