Sam Dunn has a busy year ahead of him. On top of joining his employees at Daytona Beach, Fla.–based Dunn Lumber to celebrate the dealer's 100th anniversary next month and keeping up with supplying a red-hot Florida market, Dunn will embark on his new role as chairman of the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA) and spend the next 12 months visiting as many members and would-be members as he can—a feat made possible only by the dedication and support of the crew at Dunn Lumber's three yards and overhead door shop. At a Sept. 25 ceremony during the NLBMDA/ProSales Industry Summit in Palm Beach, Fla., Dunn officially succeeded Bill Stewart, of Dickson, Tenn.–based Stewart Lumber, as NLBMDA chairman. He shared with us his thoughts as he begins, in his own words, “an exciting and challenging year” as the association's leader.
On his first priorities assuming the chair: I'm going to have to hit the ground running and reinforce the value of the NLBMDA to dealers across the country. We have to be out in the field talking to dealers and working on a direct form of membership, asking them to dip into their pockets and asking them to join and support the national association directly. That's a task. So we will be encouraging every dealer that we get a chance to talk with to get involved, and actually do something with their membership—to gain knowledge and improve their businesses rather than looking at membership as just an expense.
On getting leaner and meaner as a group and an industry community: From the national point of view, the association's activity and voice in legislation and regulatory affairs is a no-brainer: It's what a national association should do, and we hope to enhance that and increase that effort with the growth of the association, but we must have members participate in order to make it effective. We have some influential people in our industry, and we represent a good, solid part of the economy. We need to wave that flag, and let the legislative and regulatory bodies know that we represent thousands of dealers that employ hundreds of thousands of people.
On the overall health of residential construction: I'm proud of it. The building industry has kept the economy afloat, and we need to wave a flag about that, too. We have had a pretty good 12 to 18 months. I think we'll see some of that growth begin to moderate, and we'll have to manage our businesses better. We don't want to get fat and happy, we want to roll with the punches as the economy goes through its cycles.
On the NLBMDA of the future: I would really like to work on creating a voice of the industry. Anything we can do to relay in a public arena that we are speaking for a large number of people. We need to get more dealers involved across the country, and we need more financial support, which will come as we begin to make progress and make a stand on issues. We have been in a defensive mode, and now we need to go on offense and move ahead. I feel very confident with the NLBMDA leadership and staff—we have the nucleus there of a great organization and hopefully we can expand on it and specialize it—we have that opportunity.