Roughly six weeks into his new job as CEO of the Home Builders Association of Dayton, Eric Farrell is focused on continuing the legacy of a decades old organization.
Farrell, formerly with the University of Dayton athletics department for 11 years, took over as CEO of Dayton’s HBA Feb. 11. Since then he’s been meeting with local home builders and community leaders to determine local needs, he said.
Born and raised in Beavercreek, Farrell attended Carroll High School and the University of Dayton. He was on the mens basketball staff at the University of Dayton for eight years and spearheaded communication with the NCAA to organize the First Four tournament the following three years, he said.
He and his Xenia-native wife now live in Washington Twp. with their five children, he said.
HBA of Dayton represents builders in three counties, including Montgomery, Warren and Greene.
What are your goals?
One of my major goals, specifically in year one, is to continue the legacy that’s been built and established over the 70 plus years. The Home Builders Association of Dayton was founded the same year as the National Association (1942), so we have a very unique opportunity, in terms of the legacy that we’ve had dates back to the beginning and the inception.
We’ve had stretches where we’ve been highly successful. And the recession, obviously, we were able to maintain a certain level of success during that.
But I think at the end of the day, what it is is continuing to integrate our builders with our associate members, continue to be advocates for our builders and then also, what I feel is the most important, is driving relationships and building relationships with the builders, with our associate members, with the community at large.
How is the economy affecting home builders?
In quarter four of 2018, we saw home building increase so I think we are surging ahead. Interest rates are still favorable for mortgage rates and for the consumer. I think the way that ‘18 closed and with where mortgage rates are now, it bodes well for industry as a whole.
There have been talks of a recession. Is there any worry among the industry or among the association right now?
From the national (Home Builder’s Association), we’re constantly being given information in terms of what they’re forecasting, but again, those are national averages and they’re taking that 30,000-foot view.
Here locally, I think we’re going to be able to steady it. I think the sentiment across the industry is positive.
Obviously, nothing’s immune to recession. So as we’re building this out, and as we’re building our reputation within the community and becoming this very forward-facing residential building advocacy, then it’s just going to come down to are the consumers still willing to be builders and build new homes? There’s a lot of great availability left across the region…
You can also kind of look at in terms of what the region is doing in terms of attracting and retaining jobs. If you can take a look at that snapshot, the more jobs that are coming into the Dayton region will only help our local sentiment and help our industry as a whole. As new people come in, they need homes, and our industry and our association are the leaders and are at the forefront.
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What about Dayton’s market for new homes is different than the rest of the country?
What I would say is a key for us, from what I have observed in the short amount of time, is that we have some rockstar builders.
The products that they’re putting out, they are trendsetters; they’re establishing the bar here, not only here, regionally, but also throughout Cincinnati and Columbus. The trends of that some of our builders are starting to put out there are very, very forward thinking.
We have some great initiatives, starting with a lot of green initiatives in terms of net zero homes and high efficiency, high performance homes that I think we are beginning to cultivate a lot, maybe become a leader in terms of at least getting that information out there across the industry.
Our gem is our builders.
How has your experience prepared you for your new role as CEO.
Where my skill set best aligns with leading the association now, it goes back to relationship building, whether it was the basketball front where it was getting in front of a 16, 17-year-old kid and recruiting them, whether it was existing players that we had, cultivating an atmosphere that had team by in and group consensus.
And then you transition over to what I was doing with with the First Four, again, it’s a lot of community forward how do we continue to promote the community? How do we continue to promote the First Four as a piece—as a chapter—to the story that the community’s telling at large?
It taught me the value of listening. At the end of the day to lead any organization you have to be smart enough to understand that you don’t know all the answers.
What are the needs of area builders?
It varies. Every one of our builders, because of how unique they are and what niches they have really honed in on, they’re all unique in terms of what they need. At the end of the day, what they need is they need us, the Association, to be advocates for them.
They need us as an association, to continue to build that rapport with the community to say, ‘continue to invest in home building, continue to invest in the American dream, continue to invest in the communities that we’re developing and that we’re building homes.’
Better, communities are just going to be better for Dayton and the region as a whole because better communities lead to better schools. Better communities, lead to all these other ancillary services that a community can provide.
What’s exciting about your job?
I think one of the cool parts about my short time meeting with builders and talking with people, inevitably the conversation of our homes homes, between mine and whoever I’m sitting across from, comes into play. And the interesting thing about leading this organizations is how personal a home is.
I think everybody sees it just as a building and as a structure, but when you understand that that’s where your daily life happens, that’s where families are raised and a family unit is cultivated, I think being part of that story, especially with our builders, when a lot of them are custom builders, to be able to go in there and craft exactly what the consumer wants to raise their family, to tell their story, to carry on the legacy, that’s the sentimental part that you just can’t put a price tag on.
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