BATC Association Profile

Wendy Danks

An Interview with Wendy Danks of the Builders Association of the Twin Cities

We were able to sit down with Wendy Danks, marketing director of the Builders Association of the Twin Cities (BATC) to discuss the near and distant future of the association. Having been a part of BATC since the early ’80s, Dank has a long relationship with the association and has seen it weather major changes in the real estate market. She plans to see it evolve successfully with the unknown changes of the future as well.

REAM: What is the association’s main focus in the coming year?
Danks: Like every year, BATC’s mission is to help our members succeed through marketing (the Parade of Homes); advocacy at the State Capitol and cities to help keep the home building and remodeling industries healthy while supporting housing affordability in the region; and creating industry connections that bring together peers, trade partners and customers.

REAM: Why would you encourage a young real estate agent to become involved in their local associations?
Danks: The first thing an agent learns is that making a sale and being successful is all about the personal relationship with his/ her clients. Association membership works pretty much the same way. Making personal connections with people in the industry is a short cut to helping you succeed. Associations are where you can connect with people who can provide insight and support, as well as a place to make some great friends.

REAM: How frequently does the association offer CE events? How much do they cost?
Danks: For agents interested in specializing in new construction, BATC is a great place to get CE credits that are geared to this industry. Every January through March, BATC University offers contractor licensing courses, with the majority also including Minnesota real estate CE credits. This year, 36 of the classes include the credit for a total of 53.5 real estate CE credits available.

REAM: What are some exciting events coming up?
Danks: BATC has worked hard to create an event calendar that offers great networking opportunities but also supports our industry in some way. Key events include Builder Day at the Capitol and the Legislative Reception in February, The Builders and Remodelers Show (BRS) in April and the Building Industry Gala (BIG Night) in October. We have two golf outings and a clay shoot just for fun, plus several keynote speakers at various events.

REAM: What kind of changes are in store for the association over the next few years?
Danks: BATC plans to continue refining our event calendar to support the way members live and work today. We will continue to delve into new media, supporting members through strong social media efforts and we’re presenting more and more of our communications via video. We will continue to manage our consumer marketing brand, the Parade of Homes with an eye to reaching the next generation of buyers, helping to showcase the value of new and newly remodeled homes. And we will continue to work in coalition with other associations (including the REALTORSgroups) to support the housing industry at the local, regional and state level.

REAM: How is the association involved in the local community?
Danks: Our charitable arm, the BATC Foundation, is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2015. Over the past two decades the foundation has constructed new homes and remodeled many others to help area families in need. In 2015, the foundation has three major projects underway. We are renovating the lower level of the home of a nurse who has developed a severe reaction to light. We are renovating Blue Bird House, a Homeward Bound residence for several disabled men. And, in partnership with Homes for our Troops, the foundation will be building a new home for Army SPC Marco Solt and his family. Marco lost both legs in Afghanistan and his new home will be adapted to provide him full accessibility when he uses his wheelchair.

REAM: If someone wanted to move into a leadership role, what is your first word of advice?
Danks: Show up! Whether coming to association events or volunteering to serve on a committee, active members are in a position to learn from their peers and develop the skills that can serve them both in the association, but also in other organizations and life in general. As for me, I joined the builders association back in the 1980s when I worked for a publishing company, and continued through a stint with a homebuilder before coming to work at BATC in 1999. I can truly say that my participation in BATC has, without a doubt, helped me succeed. I have made great connections, learned valuable skills, and made a whole lot of friends I can count on when things get tough.

REAM: Are there any changes in the real estate community that the association is involved with?
Danks: While many thought that as online home shopping grew, REALTORSwould become less and less important. Certainly there have been changes, but smart, capable agents are even more important to families today. Too much information can be as bad as too little. Helping families wade through financing, contracts and the choices they need to make as well as the best way to get a return on investment will mean REALTORSare as important as ever. But it also means they will need to be more educated on the entire process than ever before. When it comes to new construction or finding remodeling assistance for a family buying a resale home, BATC is here to help.

REAM: As a member of the association’s leadership, what changes are you trying to put into effect?
Danks: As marketing director, my primary goal is to ensure that our consumer brand continues to be an important and valuable resource. While the Parade of Homes has had a 67-year run, it’s clear that the old way of holding a home tour is over. I believe the home tour model is still viable, but will require new ways of enhancing the experience. Plus, as the next generation of homebuyers move out of their parents’ homes, pay off their college debt and start families, they will want a home – we just have to be prepared to reach out to them in the way they want, i.e., via technology, easy to access information and one-on-one relationships.

REAM: As you look back at your association’s history, what role do you think it has played in the community? Do you think that will change in the future?
Danks: BATC and its predecessors have created an asset that has been incredibly valuable to the region. The Parade of Homes revenues allowed the association to build a major public policy department, which has successfully helped guide growth in the region and kept unreasonable regulation at bay. It also has meant the Twin Cities region is very unique as far as major metropolitan regions go, giving smallvolume builders the opportunity to reach the broader buying market at an affordable price. This has provided more choice for consumers and a more competitive marketplace – a win-win for all.

Regarding the future of our association and our industry, I have only high expectations. Certainly the environment will change, and we must be prepared to change with it. Energy and water resource scarcity will at some point affect even our region. Technology will continue to evolve and offer new ways to build, live and learn. As someone who was in the workforce when fax machines were new and email and cellphones were only a dream, the one piece of advice I’d offer is embrace change – it’s the one constant that we all can count on.