NARI Celebrates National Volunteer Week

National Volunteer Week takes place April 18-24, 2021. During this special week, NARI would like to highlight and thank all those who have donated their time and expertise to the advancement of the organization and the remodeling industry as a whole. Five of our member volunteers share their stories below.

Aaron Enfinger, CR
Chief Operations Officer
THE CLEARY COMPANY
Columbus, Ohio

How did you first hear about NARI?
I was introduced to NARI because my company The Cleary Company was a member when I started there. 

How did you first get involved volunteering for the organization? 
I went to take the CR test and I was talking to our Executive Director of the Central Ohio Chapter at the time. We chatted about workforce concerns and issues because we were having a hard time hiring. She mentioned there was a workforce development task force that was created in the Education Committee and they were working on coming up with some initiatives for a presentation to the Board of Directors. So I raised my hand and became involved on that task force. I’ve been working on committees ever since. 

You mentioned the education committee. What other committees were you involved in?
Once the task force was over, I was asked to participate as the Vice Chair of the Finance and Audit committee. I was there for a little while and then I started on the Education Committee as a Vice Chair.

I was then asked to be a part of the certification board and then became the Vice Chair there. And then I was asked to be the education committee chair. 

You mentioned a lot of different committees, which one was your favorite?
I'd have to say the Education Committee because that's the one I’m most involved with and it really does a lot of work. I've been a part of updating two different study guides including for the CR and UDCP. That experience was very insightful because it gives you a “behind the scenes” look at how the process works. It really helps you have a better understanding of the certification process and what goes into it.

What's interesting about being on the certification board is you help create the domains that make up the structure and framework for the study guide. You're also asked to help write the questions. So you're writing questions for it based on those domains. It's a really fun process.

Are there any outstanding achievements or particular initiatives you’re proud to have worked on?
I’m really proud of the first project that I had worked on with the workforce task force that I mentioned earlier. I actually wrote the presentation that we presented to the Board of Directors. I had been a part of a lot of conversations with NARI and with the chapter here in central Ohio regarding workforce development. I was also in meetings that the County was putting together and talking with people on different NGO boards. It became clear to me that we needed both long- and short-term solutions. So we put together action items that we could put into place now that would help bridge the gap between now and the future.

The presentation was well received by everyone on the Education Committee and the Board of Directors. I was really proud to have played such a big role on that initiative. It was a lot of fun.

Do you have any advice for anyone that might be thinking about joining a committee or volunteering in the organization? 

There's a lot of opportunity and things to do. There's a lot of need for people to be engaged at the national level and help steer where the association is going. There’s a lot of opportunity in many areas like membership, PR and marketing, bylaws and ethics, all the way to government affairs.

If you're someone with diverse interests there's all kinds of conversations you can be a part of. You'll easily be able to find something that you're interested in and feel inspired to be engaged with.

 


 

Mary Thompson, CR, CRPM

Partner
Craftsmen Renovations LLC
Overland Park, Kansas

How did you first hear about NARI?
We were interested in being in some kind of a tour where people could see our work. I learned about the NARI Remodeling Homes Tour and that's why we joined NARI and why I got on that committee. We wanted to show. potential clients that we were better than the “average Joe,” so to speak. 

What made you decide you wanted to be more involved with the organization? 
I've been involved in a lot of volunteer organizations like Girl Scouts, PTA, etc., and I knew that in order to get the most out of an organization, you need to give something back and make your voice heard. I was told when we first joined the Chapter, to get on a committee because it’s the best way to profit from your experience. 

I’ve recently taken on more roles at the board level. They're more all-encompassing of the whole operations of the Chapter. I'm a prominent face at a lot of events and know a lot of people in the chapter so they asked me to be on the Nominating Committee for the board this year. We're searching for a new Executive Director because our current one is retiring after 26 years, so they asked me to be on the Staffing Committee as well. I’m also the Treasurer and our bylaws say that I’m supposed to serve on the Strategic Planning committee. So I'm on that committee too. All of a sudden I'm on four committees! 

That’s a lot of committees to be on at once! How do you find a work-life balance? 
It’s nice that these committees aren't all that demanding. The most demanding right now is the Staffing Committee because we just posted for the Executive Director job on April 1st and we’re screening applicants. Unfortunately, I just found out I'm having knee replacement surgery so I won’t be able to help with that part of it.

Are there any outstanding achievements or particular initiatives you’re proud to have worked on?
With the remodeled homes tour, it's really been difficult to get more members involved. It’s usually the same 15 to 25 remodeling companies that enter it every year. In 2018, we decided to offer two remodeled homes tours, one in the Spring and one in Fall. It was fairly successful.

We tried again in 2019 but weren’t able to garner much interest. And we all know what happened last year. But the pandemic also created opportunities to try different things. 

One thing I kept pushing for was to be able to go virtual for the tours. This is something we discussed even prior to the pandemic and I thought 2020 was the perfect year to try it. Unfortunately, I wasn't successful at getting everybody on board with that, despite being the optimal year for it. They were concerned with how it would generate revenue. It's the one money making event that we have in our Chapter.

From a contractor standpoint, I didn’t think we could rely on making more money from the public. The contractor is really the consumer of the tour. We’re the ones who want our name and work out there. Therefore, we’re willing to pay more for our entry fee and we’ll make money that way. And so that has helped.

Even though we weren’t able to track the people coming to the tour because we just want to offer it to them as a fun thing to do, contractors are willing to pay more to showcase their work.

Do you have any advice for anyone that might be thinking about joining a committee or volunteering either for their Chapter or nationally? 
I would say definitely get involved and join a committee. You're going to get to know the people on that committee really well.

In fact, Judy Transue [2021 Kansas City NARI Chair] and I have been great friends ever since I started participating. Both Judy and another member Celia are all husband and wife remodeling teams, but we're all best friends. Everybody asks “how do you guys do that?” First of all, there's plenty of work to go around. And secondly, we all have our own specialty, and it really has enhanced our business relationship by being friends. I know I can call Judy and ask, “Hey, I need a framer. Who do you know? I’ve made great friendships by being a part of committees. It’s a great way to network.

You mentioned earlier that you also volunteer with Girl Scouts, do you volunteer with any other organizations?
PTA and Girl Scouts were definitely the big ones. I was my oldest daughter's girl scout leader from first through 12th grade. They decided early on that they wanted to be a traveling troop. We started out at the local campgrounds and then as the years went on, our trips got bigger. 

It culminated in our final trip when she was in the 12th grade. The girls wanted to go somewhere where they needed a passport and to experience another culture. We decided on Iceland!

We snorkeled in an ice cold water glacier-fed river over the continental divide. We climbed a volcano. We went whale-watching. It was amazing!

That’s definitely a perk to volunteering!
Definitely. When I get into an organization, I pour my all into it. My parents were always involved in volunteering so it just comes naturally to me too!

 


 

Don C. Van Cura Sr., MCR, CKBR, GCP, CLC, UDCP
President
Don Van Cura Construction Co. Inc.
Chicago, Illinois

How did you first hear about NARI?
In the early nineties, NARI had a fairly large remodeling show at McCormick place here in Chicago. Like other shows, when you're walking through booths, you stop and ask what's this? Somebody says, sign here. And you ask, what am I signing? Oh, you got to be part of this, you know, just sign. I found out later it was an application for NARI membership. Soon after I decided to join a committee. It's the NARI way. 

So you joined a committee right away. What committee was that?Education. That's been my primary focus. Education, certification and ethics.

You started out on then Education Committee and you’re currently sitting on the Ethics Committee. What’s been your favorite part about working on these committees?
Starting out, I was a young snot-nosed kid just learning a trade. I had a plumber named Charlie who took me under his wing. If it wasn't for his direction, I'm not sure what I would be doing right now. He was a patient gentleman and I learned a trade quite well under his tutelage. Bless that man. I always felt like I needed to do that for somebody else. Flash forward many years and I've got a wonderful profession that’s been financially advantageous and I just feel the need to do the same thing for someone else. 

Becoming a remodeler is not just going to remodeling class. What appealed to me about NARI was the ability to get involved with education and see an avenue for people to hone their skills and get better.

Early on working in the trades, you find out there's a lot of unscrupulous people out there that lack any morals. Some of them just care about the money and not the skill nor the expertise in their trade. What I found extremely appealing about NARI was their code of ethics. There's a guideline about the right way to perform this business and sleep well at night. There has to be people that set the standard for ethics in this business and how to treat the public with honesty. That’s what we strive for everyday working on these committees.

Has NARI given you more ethical credibility with the public?
For sure. I like to think I'm ethical with or without NARI. However, when people are being introduced to you and you don't have any experience with them, they wonder if this is one of those guys they saw on the news. Can I let this guy in my house, around my kids? It can be a scary thing for a homeowner.

When they see that you’re involved with an organization that establishes a code of ethics, they’re put at ease. 

Are there any outstanding achievements or particular initiatives you’re proud to have worked on in these committees?
A team of other members and I went to the House of Delegates to look for funding for what would become the Certified Kitchen and Bath program. Watching that certification go from zero, through development, to seeing people get certified was a rush. It was a lot of work but I’m very proud to have been a part of it. 

In terms of education I’ve always felt if you want to learn something the best way is to teach it. In the process of trying to educate someone else, you find out how much you don't know yourself. I'm proud of where education has gone in NARI as well. 

Were you ever a part of instructing a certification prep course?
Yes. Actually, I've taught for all of the certifications. We did the first CLC class here in Chicago. We had over 25 people in our first class and it was really well-received right off the bat. I really enjoyed doing that. 

My involvement with education has taken me places out of state and even other countries. I went to Thailand one year to instruct a group of people how to do certain types of repairs. That was an honor. 

How do you find a work-life balance?
Well, I'm 68 now and I still absolutely love our industry. I don't plan on just pulling the plug overnight, but I'm trying to wean myself off a bit. Aside from NARI, I've told myself to sit on my hands as much as possible.

That’s something I could say I owe to NARI by being involved in different committees and educational programs. I learned early on to work hard the entire week but when the evenings and weekends come I unplug. As my wife Sonia often says if it's burning, call the fire department, otherwise we'll see on Monday.

Now I work a four day week. On time off, I don't talk to clients or do any proposals. It takes a little practice but once you do that, you enjoy your free time and come back on Monday full of energy and ready to knock things out.

We believe the same thing for everyone in our company too. Our guys work a four-day week now with 10-hour days, and they love that extra day off. They have the option to work overtime if they want, but I don't encourage it. 

Do you have any advice for anyone that might be thinking about joining a committee or volunteering? 
I would advise anybody who's even on the fence to just go for it. You give a little bit but what you get out of it is tenfold.

 


 

Amy Mosley, CFE, CAPS
Vice President
DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen
Waco, TX

How did you first hear about NARI?
I started work at DreamMaker Bath and Kitchen in December of 2001. And not long after that Doug Dwyer, our company president, went to his first NARI national meeting and got a lot out of it. So I went to the next one and just kept coming back to the national level. We’ve been a member, in various capacities, ever since.

What is your current role in NARI?
This year is the first time in my new role as Marketing Committee Chair. I just recently came off of three years chairing the Membership Committee. And prior to that, I chaired the Finance and Audit committee for three years which puts me on the Board of Directors. This will be my seventh year on the Board of Directors. I've served other committees like awards and bylaws as well. 

You obviously have a very diverse background working on committees. Which one was your favorite to be a part of? 
I can't speak for marketing since I just started. All of the committees were really fun but I really got a lot out of the Awards Committee. Just when you thought you had all the problems of the world solved, something else comes along. It really kept things exciting.

What are you most looking forward to on the marketing committee? 
I am looking forward to a new challenge and how we can continue to build the brand. Coming out of the Membership Committee, a lot of our discussion ended up being about marketing. We discussed how to better use data to segment audiences for member recruitment and retention and what collateral we would need to do that. I'm really looking forward to digging more into the key marketing initiatives.

Are there any outstanding achievements or particular initiatives you’re proud to have worked on?
After the first year in membership, there were several things we were able to get budgeted for, put on the work plan, and sent to the board. That was really rewarding because it meant that our work meant something. 

What were some of these initiatives?
Some of them had to do with chapter funds or different marketing pieces. It was great knowing we could have an impact on the future of the organization.

Do you have any advice for anyone that might be thinking about joining a committee or volunteering in the organization?
Absolutely just do it. I have formed so many great relationships both professionally and personally. I'm happy to say I have great friends, colleagues, and resources across the country that I can reach out to for different things.

I've always found NARI to be a very welcoming group where people want to get to know you. Whatever level you want to volunteer at, whether it's on the national level, the local level, just do it. You'll definitely get more out of it than you put in.

How have you managed to balance your career and family life with your volunteer work? 
My employer, DreamMaker Bath and Kitchen is very supportive of my involvement. Sometimes it may mean I'm working on my profession at odd hours because of NARI service. My kids are all young adults now, so I'm at a really good stage in life where it’s pretty easy to balance it. There certainly have been times when it was a little more difficult. 

It also helps when you can make professional time, personal time too. For example, my daughter's been to The Evening of Excellence and to dinners with committee members. I've always found everyone to be very kind and supportive. 

 

 


 

Robin Burrill
CEO/Principal Designer
Signature Home Services, Inc.
Keller, TX

How did you first hear about NARI?
I first heard about NARI almost 20 years ago. At the time in Fort Worth, the remodelers council from NARI was a powerhouse. Our meetings would have a couple hundred people at them. They were phenomenal. And as my husband Rob and I got more involved in the organization, we won Contractor of the Year in 2007.

How did you first get involved with volunteering for the organization? 
Rob was on the Ethics Committee and I had been going to the meetings and other events.

As time went on, we just began taking on more duties within the organization. It's a really good organization with a really great group of people.

What is your current role in NARI?
I’m currently on the Accreditation Board and it’s really good. It's very interesting because there's a lot of different opinions. It’s interesting to hear what an industry partner thinks versus actual [remodeling business] owners, versus NARI staff, etc. I’m also interested in learning what the certification boards are like for CR, CKBR, and that sort of thing.

Are there any outstanding achievements or particular initiatives you’re proud to have worked on?
With the accreditation board in particular, I’m glad we are raising awareness for the program. I think that this is a fantastic way for remodeling companies to set themselves apart. With the certification program, yes, you have to have the knowledge, you have to study, take the tests, cover the financials, and everything that goes along with it. You also have to recertify every so many years. Accreditation is different in that it’s more about staying an outstanding company as a whole. So I’m glad I can bring more awareness about the program.

I also really like the fact that we have so many women on the board. It's awesome because you don't find that a lot in a male-dominated industry. I remember when I first started going to meetings with my husband Rob, I was the only female at a meeting. Slowly over the past 20 years, I’ve started to see more and more women, and not just industry partners, but women who are in the industry taking on an active role.

Do you have any advice for other women or anyone in general that might be thinking about joining a committee or volunteering in the organization?
The first thing I would suggest is to make sure you know what the time commitment will be. Second is to understand what you can bring to the board and not necessarily what it’s going to bring back to your company. I think that's really important. 

I'm on the planning and zoning commission for our city and I love being a part of that board. We have two attorneys that are on this board and I'm the only one that's in construction. So although they may not always like my answer to issues brought to us by the public, at least I know that I'm bringing knowledge to the board that they didn't have before. 

I'm also a very outspoken person and I can be very blunt. I think that's really important if you're thinking about joining a committee. Don’t just go along with what everybody else is saying. It’s important to have your own voice and feel confident in standing up for your beliefs.

Obviously, volunteering isn't your full-time job. How have you managed to balance your career and family life with your volunteer work? 
I don't understand why people don't volunteer. If you're going to be a part of an organization, why not get out there and do something. It's about building relationships.

I used to volunteer way more than I do now. Currently, the only volunteer work I do is with NARI and the city. For a long time I was involved in our state chapter for the American Society of Interior Designers holding positions from Communications Director to President. I’ve belonged to women's organizations too. 

I will say, when you spread yourself too thin it does not make a happy home life, especially when you're working with your spouse. Of course, I’ve gotten great enjoyment out of volunteering but you also need to know when to say “no.” Just gauge what works best for you!