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This article first appeared in the PB July 2007 issue of Pro Builder.

Editorial Director Paul Deffenbaugh
On the inside of my wife's wedding ring, I had inscribed the phrase, "With Reason and Passion." That intimate revelation is necessary to explain how fundamental I believe these two attributes are to our lives. We can't live without both, and they often reside in conflict and in support. Passion can supplant reason and bolster it.

I use this to explain why we have chosen the theme — "Passion for Excellence" — for this year's Professional Builder Benchmark Conference. We live in a time in this industry when we need to rely on fundamental truths. We need passion to revitalize us and carry us through. And we need reason, thoughtfulness and care to make smart decisions to mitigate risk and improve our position. We need both reason and passion.

Our tendency is to lose sight of such important issues during tough times. We cut back on training, we entrench, we bunker down. To combat that, we have devised a program that will allow you and your staff to find the fuel you need to continue and the ideas you crave to succeed.

Day One — Strategy

Our first day is set up to provoke thoughts about your strategic position. Let's not stop thinking big because it is big thoughts and long vision that inspire us. Our keynote speaker, Jason Jennings, has built a career giving businesses the information and skills they need to achieve their maximum potential. His research can help clarify your thoughts about choices you need to make within your company.

Our following speakers, J. Walker Smith and James Haughey, will provide the context for making those decisions. Smith is president of the well-know marketing consultancy, Yankelovich Partners, and will help you understand the driving demographic forces shaping our businesses. Haughey, chief economist at Reed Construction Data, has been tracking the economics of the housing industry his entire career and can provide rare insight to what's happening now.

The National Housing Quality Award winners will discuss the best of what works in today's environment. This level of sharing and information is unprecedented in the industry. We also have panels set up to address specific issues you're facing, such as adopting new technologies, managing the supply chain and executing green building strategies.

Day Two — Sales

Day two is the passion behind the strategy of day one. It is all about sales. If there is any issue we face right now, it is our ability to drive sales. Robert Kriegel, author of "Sacred Cows Make the Best Burgers: Developing Change-Ready People and Organizations," is going to challenge us to break our patterns and investigate new ideas. His dynamic and passionate approach will inspire you to change.

John Rymer and Rick Heaston, two leading sales consultants, will present techniques to help you improve sales and moderate panels including sales people who are using these techniques. You will learn exactly how you can implement them. It's information sharing that will be essential to create the change you want for your sales staff.

A major element of the sales message is customer satisfaction, and we're proud to provide a panel with the winners of the AVID Ratings Award presented by Professional Builder. These companies exhibit the very best of customer satisfaction, and their techniques can help bolster the confidence of your salespeople and define new ways to execute quality improvements.

As with all good conferences, sometimes the very best education occurs in the hallways and during networking opportunities. Benchmark attendees are known for their devotion to continuous improvement and willingness to share ideas. Many National Housing Quality Award winners, AVID Ratings Award winners, and Professional Builder's Builder of the Year winner will be on-hand. Reason enough to attend.

Bring your passion.

Paul Deffenbaugh, Editorial Director, 630.288.8190,

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