NLBMDA: The operations plan is moving along. What is the status of executing it?
Baalmann: The plan has five facets: financial, headquarters, governance, communications, and member services. We are making progress on several of these facets. The office is set up at 2025 M St. NW in Washington. We are collecting dues and organizing our products for sale. We are developing policies and procedures for the organization and will establish a finance and audit committee to monitor our finances carefully. We are providing frequent communications to all NLBMDA members through biweekly updates.
Since the January board of directors meeting, when we unveiled the 2008 operations plan, I have thought about who would serve well on this task force. I have sought advice from several people, and I've carefully created a list of candidates who I would be proud to work with. These people are smart, open minded, fair, and very knowledgeable about associations, especially NLBMDA.
My goal is that when we get through with this process, we will have one outstanding organization with a clear mission both at the local and national levels. We will have meetings during the late spring and summer to craft this plan, and will work to submit it to the board of directors by the October board meeting.
Baalmann: ISFA is an ongoing project for us. At last count, we have 70 House members signed on, and we will be making particularly concentrated efforts to get some senators as well. Finances are a strain, though, and we must get complete cooperation from our partners, both financially and through lobbying efforts, to make it work. If passed into law, this bill would benefit every dealer regardless of size or location. Politicians come and go, but lumber dealers and most retailers are here for the long haul. We simply must keep plugging away.
NLBMDA: What are your next goals for the state and regional associations?
Baalmann: My first goal is to have the association executives support our new organizational structure and our management firm, which was hired during the October 2007 board of directors meeting. SmithBucklin has been providing service for more than 240 associations for nearly 60 years, and has a great reputation for delivering quality services. Our organization was severely broken, and we hired SmithBucklin to assess and fix our operations first. When that has been completed, we will use its resources to improve our advocacy program, financial management, governance structure, and other areas that need corrective action or a complete overhaul.
My second goal is to help the state and regional associations retain membership in their respective organizations. The best thing NLBMDA can do is serve the dealer members on a national scale and provide industry-specific services that are not available to our members on the local level. The association executives must be able to use NLBMDA as a tool in their recruiting efforts, and we on the national board must make sure programs and services–like legislative affairs, which strengthens dealer members–are available.
My third goal is for the state and regional associations and the NLBMDA board to better communicate about the benefits of NLBMDA membership. The average dealer doesn't know me, but it does know its association executive or board member, and dealers typically hold them in high esteem. I would love for the state and regional associations and board members to work to promote the value that NLBMDA provides us all.
NLBMDA: How are you working to improve NLBMDA member services?
Baalmann: We are reaching out to form partnerships with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for Legal Reform, American Tort Reform Association, National Association of Home Builders, Building Owners Management Association, and the Associated General Contractors to leverage resources and have more impact. We are also working to reactivate the Risk Management/Safety Task Force to provide counsel to the staff as we argue for the regulatory relief you need as association members.