VOL. 115 | NO. 1 | Tuesday, January 2, 2001
Memphis Area Builders Welcome In New Year With New Chief At Helm
Home Builders ring in year with new chief
By MARY DANDO
The Daily News
Memphis Area Home Builders Association welcomed in the new year with the appointment of a new executive director.
Mark Billingsley, 34, starts his new job today, replacing David Reel, who was executive director for the past six years. Reel has become executive director of the 300-member Pennsylvania Association of Realtors in Harrisburg, Pa.
Billingsley has directed marketing programs and developed local and national corporate financial sponsors for United Cerebral Palsy of the Mid-South for the past five-and-a-half years.
He is a graduate of Christian Brothers High School and attended the University of Memphis.
This years Vesta Home Show, sponsored annually by MAHBA, was Billingsleys first introduction to the world of construction and builders. MAHBAs sponsorship resulted in almost $50,000 being raised for United Cerebral Palsy of the Mid-South Inc.
Nearly 34,000 people attended the show and $1 from each ticket went to UCP.
"I see things as a stepping stone and the most remarkable period of my life has been my last five-and-a-half years here at United Cerebral Palsy because I think I made a local, regional and national impact on the association in a lot of different areas. Its a career that I have loved in developing new partnerships for people with disabilities and working with local companies," Billingsley said.
He sees working with the homebuilders association as a tremendous opportunity. He got to know many of the members through the Vesta Home Show and he was very impressed and developed a real appreciation for the work of MAHBA, the quality of the members and the quality of the associations board.
Billingsley said that the similarities between a "feel good" organization such as UCP and a business organization such as MAHBA were greater than most people imagined.
"I have been very passionate about helping people with disabilities and I think one of the primary dreams of any young couple or any family is to one day own a home and I think thats such a fundamental need for so many people I intend to become very passionate about the association," he said.
He sees the association as offering exceptional services, and he thinks MAHBA is at a point that it can really grow because it has accomplished tremendous things over the past 50 years.
"I think were at a point now that were ready to reach a new plateau," he said.
Several weeks ago the MAHBA board of directors and staff held a planning retreat to map out a long-term strategic plan for the association and Billingsley thinks the plan is visionary in its concept.
"Im really hoping to be maybe that conduit with the community and the board and the staff in bringing the MAHBA to a new level not just for this coming year but for five years or even 10 years down the road," he said.
Billingsley thinks one of the reasons the association chose him as its new executive director is he comes to Memphis Area Home Builders Association with a clean slate, a fresh approach to the job.
"I dont have a building background at all, I dont have anyone in my family that is a developer or builder or anything in the field," he said.
He believes it is his experience that will make a difference in the operation of the MAHBA in the future.
"Ive dealt with so many issues over the last few years that significantly impact families and persons livelihood. I take every issue singly. I look at things very independently. I really put a lot of careful thought into things that I advocate for and also I think one of the skills that I bring to the home builders is Im able to bring very diverse groups of people who have very passionate views on opposite sides together just through my people skills and my ability to negotiate," he said.
MAHBAs executive director is the external voice of the organization. He serves as staff contact to the political action committee and the developers council. He represents MAHBA on builders issues directly affected by the decisions of Memphis City Council and Shelby County Board of Commissioners, as well as working with the Collierville chapter and the Fayette County chapter.
"I dont think anyone ever wins in an argument. Im big on compromises, but I really think a lot of what I have done in the past is a lot of education. I do my homework on issues and I think you have to look at both sides of every issue," he said.
"Im going to learn a lot about tree ordinances and about erosion issues."
Billingsley is well aware his new position will involve controversial decisions about the future development of the greater Memphis area.
"Im not naive and think that the worlds going to all hold hands and everybodys going to be happy, but even the people that I have disagreed with over the years have a real respect for the way I handled myself and the way that I tackle issues. And, I really believe in sitting down one on one and working with individuals and talking about the issues. So many times people have a preconceived notion and put their heels in the dirt, and thats not the way that I handle myself," he said.
Starting as the new executive director of MAHBA is not the only big event of 2001 for Mark Billingsley. On May 12, he will marry Diana Walker who works as an activity coordinator at Germantown parks and recreation department.
Billingsley believes hes ready to take the reins of the MAHBA.
"Its going to be a totally new step for me. Totally changing gears. I really think Ive done my homework, and Ive got a lot to learn. I have a lot of people to meet. I am very excited about the opportunity. As I told the homebuilders association when I interviewed, I will give 150 percent as I have done in my present position. I intend to be very committed and dedicated to the job and again to try and bring people together on the issues before they come to a vote, and before its an afterthought and people are upset."