Portland Local Gains Strength

he success of the Portland [Ore.] Remodelors Council is proof of local councils’ potential to have significant impact on their members’ success in a very short time.

July 31, 2001

The strength of the Remodelors Council lies in the 150 local councils across the country. Working in cooperation with the national office, local councils coordinate the delivery of council services and form the backbone of the network.

The success of the Portland [Ore.] Remodelors Council is proof of local councils’ potential to have significant impact on their members’ success in a very short time. Council Chairman Lee Zajic points out that even though the city’s HBA is nearly 20 years old, Portland didn’t have a Remodelors Council until just two years ago. Yet the council has become recognized as one of the strongest in the country, with many members and a full calendar of successful networking and marketing activities.

Giving considerable credit to the council’s first chair, David Ewing, Zajic says that he and members such as Scott Gregor and Tom Kelly exemplify the level of commitment that drives a council’s success. "You’ll find that there’s a core group of people that maintain a consistent level of participation and commitment," he says, adding that one of the greatest values of joining a council is the opportunity to network with members dedicated to the progress of the council and the industry.

Building on a tradition of success

Zajic attributes the Portland Remodelors Council’s success in part to the strength of the HBA of Metro Portland. "Many of the council’s most active members were active members of the HBA prior to the formation of the council."

The tradition of success is evident in the council’s rapid establishment of a series of landmark events and activities, including the launch of an annual Tour of Remodeled Homes in 1999. The council assists in production of Remodel Portland, the annual magazine devoted to the tour and to the professional remodeling industry. Council members also actively participate in the GMC Portland Home and Garden Show in the spring and the Fall Home and Garden Show.

Portland’s council generates visibility for its members through generous support of local charities, collaboration on the tour, the building and raffle of playhouses and continued involvement with the Rebuilding Together with Christmas in April program. The council is also developing a scholarship program for young people looking toward careers in the industry.

All these activities, Zajic points out, put the council’s members in the public eye to a degree and with positioning much more difficult to achieve through individual marketing alone.

The value of networking

Zajic says the greatest value in belonging to a local council is in "sitting across from another remodeler and being able to discuss problems, learn solutions and benefit from the insight of someone who thinks like I do."

"Remodelers are a distinct breed," he says. "We’re part of the building industry, yes, but we interact with the homeowner in a very unique context. We sit with them in their kitchen and say, ‘Now what are we going to do with that?’ It’s a very personal process and something that another remodeler can relate to." Strengthening that bond and helping remodelers learn from each other are what Zajic sees as the most attractive benefits of being involved with a local council.

An expanded support structure

As part of the national Remodelors Council, local councils provide a point of access to services delivered by the building industry’s most influential membership organization. Services such as CGR certification classes rely on the local council structure. Equally important, locals provide a voice for remodelers, a forum through which to convey their priorities and concerns to the country’s political and regulatory leadership.

What does all this mean at the end of the day to the average remodeler trying to make a business work? Zajic offers himself as an example. "Being part of the council has brought my business further in two years than I could have gone in 10 on my own," he says. "I’m bidding against ‘the big boys’ on jobs that I would never been able to go for a few years ago. And I’m enjoying that success in an atmosphere of camaraderie and fun. That’s hard to beat."

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