Industry veterans

Ken Clark

Home Channel News received numerous comments about a recent front-page article, “Homeland security: industry supports soldiers,” (Aug. 27 issue) about the charity Homes for Our Troops. The comments were positive, and personal.

“I’m a Vietnam vet, and this story is very dear to my heart,” wrote one reader. Several others—both inside the industry and out—told us they appreciated associate editor Lisa Girard’s article and the treatment we gave it.

Certainly, Homes for Our Troops is a worthy cause, and the idea of injured volunteers returning home is packed with emotion. But here’s another reason I think the story struck such a chord: our industry and the military are linked through the personal experiences of a high percentage of key players—and many, many more are connected to the armed services through sons, daughters and relatives.

(Full disclosure: my own brother Dan Clark, a truss manager for Chase Lumber, in Aurora, Colo., used to be in the 8th Infantry Division of the U.S. Army.)

Michael Cassidy is a former marine captain who has given a lot of thought over the years to the similarities between the military and the LBM industry. Today, he is senior vp within Pro-Build Holdings’ East Region, and he sees the two fields as closely related in many ways.

“They’re both physical industries,” said Cassidy, 44. “You’re moving stuff, you’re leading people, and ultimately you’re helping serve others. In the case of the housing industry, you’re helping people build a home.”

Military leadership translates to our industry as well, he said—but not the drop-and-give-me-twenty style that many people associate with boot camp. Cassidy learned early in his career as a Marine officer that getting things done in the field required communicating the mission, supplying the resources and, often times, getting out of the way. This team-oriented aspect of military leadership is crucial and often misunderstood.

“The myth of the ‘Yes sir, no sir’ single-minded culture does great disservice to those coming from the military,” said Cassidy. “The great thing about these folks in my experience anyway is that they aren’t intimidated by much and don’t mind occasionally telling you that you are wrong and just how wrong you are. That can be of great value to leaders.”

No argument here, sir.

We don’t have statistics on the subject. But the home channel-military connection increased by at least one Army veteran this month when Bill Addison joined Home Channel News. Addison was with his National Guard Unit in Korea just a few weeks ago. Now he’s covering hardware and tools for HCN.

You don’t have to have military experience to cover this business, but it doesn’t hurt.

This month’s special “Tools Issue” of HCN showcases our team coverage of the topic, with highlights of trends and the upcoming STAFDA show in early November. The section begins on page 15.

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