Building a Legacy Through Generations of HBA Leadership

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[caption id="attachment_15531" align="alignleft" width="300"] Charles V. Simms, Charles H. Simms and Robi Simms attend a housing tour in downtown Dayton.[/caption] As we celebrate Father's Day this weekend, we are reminded that the home-building industry is truly a family business, with many builders passing their companies on to the next generation in their family. This multi-generational legacy establishes NAHB members as pillars of their communities and often leaders in their local home builder associations (HBAs). In Dayton, Ohio, four generations of builders have been making an impact in their community and with their local HBA for more than 70 years. Alex Simms, who served as president of Home Builders Association (HBA) of Dayton in 1952, was instrumental in establishing his local association. In 1969, under the leadership of his son, Charles V. Simms, HBA membership grew to a then all-time high of 650 members. Recruitment has continued to be a focus for Charles' son, Charles H. Simms (1999 HBA president), and grandson, Robi Simms, who will become the Dayton HBA president in 2020 and currently serves as the membership co-chair for the Ohio HBA. "When my great-grandfather started building in the 1940s and '50s, I don’t think he saw this coming," Robi shared. "He’s passed away, but I’d love to see his opinion on what’s going on. He really started it, and it would be neat to hear his point of view." Robi’s father has always encouraged his children to pursue their own careers, but ever since he was a toddler with a toy toolbelt, Robi knew he wanted to be a builder and land developer like his dad. "I think many times in home building, it’s in the blood — you grow up with it," Charles stated. "Home building is something you have to live with 24/7, and families go through it — in good ways and bad —together. And you learn you have to help each other." Helping not only his family, but those around him, was a key driver in Robi’s career decision. A seventh-generation Daytonian, Robi has memories as a child of watching his great-grandfather at work, but more important than the technical aspects of the work was understanding how this work affected his local community. "I could see what you could do for the community, for Dayton, for families moving to Dayton," he recalled. [caption id="attachment_15532" align="alignright" width="300"] Robi and Charles Simms attend the 2019 International Builders' Show.[/caption] This sense of community has been prevalent throughout both Robi's and Charles' careers — from watching angry home owners and neighbors turn into community partners at a local zoning meeting to developing longstanding relationships with members of the building industry. "I know I can call on multiple builders or vendors and ask them simple questions about their business, and I get great answers back," Robi noted as some of the best professional development advice he’s received from his father. Charles is excited to see his son step into the president role next year and watch him move the industry forward. Charles hopes, as a younger member, that Robi’s leadership will serve as an example and inspire other young professionals to pursue a career in home building. Most important, though, is seeing all of the hard work his son has put into his career come to fruition. "I’m really proud of him and all the work he’s put in," Charles stated. "I’ve built 2,000 homes, townhomes and apartments, and I couldn’t be more proud or happy of the way my career has turned out, and I hope the same for Robi."

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