Trade Partner Council Meeting: First-Person Account

A first-person account of K. Hovnanian's Mid-Atlantic trade partner council gathering that was held November, 2009.  

By By Mark Jarasek | December 31, 2009


It's important that the home builder acknowledge the contributions of trade partners and give credit where credit is due. this display of awards and a poster-sized note of thanks was set up for everyone to see at the K. Hovnanian mid-atlantic tpC meeting. Photo: Mark Jarasek

K. Hovnanian invited me to be their guest at the Mid-Atlantic TPC gathering held last November. After checking into the Pooks Hill Marriot in Bethesda, Md., the night before, I decided to watch a Chicago Bulls basketball game on the TV in the hotel bar. A gentleman sat down next to me and we struck up a conversation, soon discovering we were at the hotel for the same reason. My new buddy was Bill Hornibrook, strategic accounts manager with MasterBrand Cabinets, Sewell, N.J. Turns out he'd been involved with the K. Hov TPC for many years.

After disclosing that I was a journalist covering the event, I plied him with questions on what to expect. Hornibrook lit up with enthusiasm as he told me how great this particular TPC was. He talked about the beneficial relationships and knowledge he had gained from participating over the years. It was the perfect chance encounter as it set the stage for my now very high expectations.

Early risers

The meeting was scheduled to start at 8 a.m. One of my hosts, Chip Merlin, vice president of operations for K. Hovnanian/Landover Group in Chantilly, Va., told me attendees like to show up as early as 6 a.m. Only half believing anyone would arrive for an 8 a.m. meeting at the crack of dawn, I decided to see for myself.

It was barely a minute past 6 a.m. when I arrived, and there was already a long line to register. Lively networking ensued among the attendees for those two hours before the meeting commenced.

As I did my own networking, I discovered that the enthusiasm Hornibrook expressed the night before seemed to be shared by everyone there — all 300 of them. The majority were trades and suppliers, along with a contingent of K. Hovnanian reps.

The meeting

A side room was set up with informational displays on energy-efficient construction techniques, stormwater retention best practices and customer satisfaction surveys. Information relating to the trade council's priorities, vision, principles and beliefs was available. One display had a collection of awards that K. Hovnanian had received. A big sign above the trophies expressed thanks and gave credit to the trade partners for making a pivotal contribution toward the awards.

The theme of the meeting was “Simplification, Alignment and Execution.” It was well-organized and driven by a distributed agenda that included business updates from K. Hovnanian division leaders and TPC officers, a guest speaker and a Q&A session.

I was a little surprised to hear what seemed to me like proprietary information candidly shared with the entire group. K. Hovnanian division leaders talked about business results related to home starts and deliveries, and customer satisfaction survey results. They also revealed land acquisition plans and growth strategies for their markets in 2010.


A large conference room was needed to handle this crowd of trades/suppliers. Photo: Mark Jarasek

Other points of business included the induction of the new Virginia division TPC chairman John Lombardozzi, president and CEO of Signature Cos., Haymarket, Va., who was taking over for outgoing chairman Dave Scott, vice president of Fireside Hearth and Home, Richmond, Va. Lombardozzi talked about the benefits that the TPC afforded every member. He reiterated the council's mission statement and statement of purpose with the group, and expressed his appreciation for the candor that K. Hovnanian leadership provided. Lombardozzi challenged everyone in the room to make a contribution to the council. It was impressive.

The icing on the cake was a motivational presentation given by K. Hovnanian/Landover Group Training Manager Steve Sutton, titled, “Be Great for Five Minutes.” It was about people making a conscious effort to do something extraordinary every day, and I found it very inspirational.

The takeaway

The meeting gave me keen insight into and a clear understanding of the inner workings of a successful TPC. I think my experience can be best summed up by a comment I overheard from a board member: “I've been involved in a lot of home-builder trade partner councils in my career, and K. Hovnanian's council is by far the best I've known.”

See related article: "Trade Partner Councils Pay Off for Home Builders"


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