President's perspective
The Magic is Back at the WBA!
Harvey Kessel 2019 WBA President

I am extremely honored to be your President for 2019. It looks to be an exciting year with a lot of past successes to build upon.

I want to start out by thanking our staff and our event committee for doing an excellent job of planning and organizing our Member Meeting Day and President’s Installation Dinner. The member feedback has been very positive. Next, I want to thank our generous sponsors, including our lead sponsors Livable Communities by Don Tierney and Wisconsin Building Supply; we could not do this event without you. Finally, I offer my sincere thanks to all of you for your kind words and offers of support for the upcoming year.

I am excited about 2019, and I have a few goals in mind for myself and this association. First, I would like to the keep the tagline “The Magic is Back at the WBA,” because I think that it captures our forward momentum while recognizing all that we have accomplished. I plan to make a concerted effort this year to recognize achievement and express gratitude for jobs well done. Besides this, I want to explore alternate sponsorship opportunities that may attract more sponsors and add more value to their involvement.

2018 was the first year that the WBA membership grew since 2006. Thank you to all our members who made this possible! To build on this success, the WBA and Ashley Furniture/Furniture & ApplianceMart are hosting a member recruitment contest in 2019, where winners will receive an all-expenses-paid weekend in Chicago. You can learn more at

Our affinity partnerships were additionally very effective in the last year. Our latest effort, the WBA Association Health Plan (powered by The Insurance Center of Wisconsin), signed on 110 lives in the first six months. This is right in line with our projected growth goals, and we look forward to continuing to promote this benefit and other affinity partnerships in 2019.

On the charitable front, the WB Foundation is off and running in 2019, having recently co-hosted the B4 Conference (see recap on page 9). The Foundation is also holding a raffle this year to raise funds (, with the grand prize winner receiving $10,000 worth of furniture from Ashley Furniture. These funds make it possible to power the Foundation, so it can provide scholarships for students going into the trades. Scholarship applications for 2019 are now being accepted, you can learn more on page 5.

On the advocacy front, we are looking forward to working with members of both parties in the legislature, Governor Evers, and the new cabinet secretaries to continue to advocate for public policy items to decrease the cost of housing for Wisconsin families. As we discussed recently during our Advocacy Group meeting on 2/8, our first priority this session is to make sure we keep all of the positive housing reforms we have achieved working together since 2011. I would ask all members to continue to stay engaged in advocacy issues on the local, state, and federal level to assure we continue to make positive changes for housing.

In conclusion, our association is stronger, but we need to continue to build that strength in order to meet the daily challenges facing the building industry. Fortunately, there was 2% growth in building permits from 2017 to 2018, and close to the same modest growth projected for 2019. Now more than ever is the time to prove that “The Magic is Back at the WBA,” and help us rise to the next level. Thank you.