The web defines “mentor” as a noun – “an experienced and trusted adviser” – and a verb – to advise or train (someone, especially a younger colleague.) While informal mentoring has been part of the EM NARI culture for years, a few members initiated the idea of creating an official mentorship program. For years Paul Morse and the late Jim Marcotte were among the members informally mentoring others. Knowing the profound impact that those relationships had on EM NARI members with emerging businesses, the EM NARI membership committee spearheaded the idea of a formal method of pairing newer members with more experienced members.
EM NARI Executive Director, Michelle Glassburn, reached out to Eric Adams of Adams + Beasley Associates to participate in the pilot. Matched with Benjamin Becker of BLB Custom Homes, Adams strongly believes in the power of mentoring. The mentorship program has provided Adams with “a greater appreciation of the commonalities new business owners share” with one another and with more established business owners. “It has been exciting to be part of that process with these people making a commitment to bettering themselves and their companies,” he says.
Mentors present a topic pertinent to newer business owners in some of the sessions. The first session was on Budgeting and Finance presented by Tom Mitchell of Mitchell Construction Group; the second session was about Business Plans, presented by Roger Gallagher of Gallagher Remodeling, Inc.; the third session will be on Organizational Development and infrastructure that Adams will present. Peter Feinmann of Feinmann, Inc. will present on Marketing and Sales in the fourth session. The final two sessions are devoted to “Issues Facing Emerging Businesses” and finally, the Capstone session which concludes the program.
“It is rewarding and reassuring to be among other successful, stable business owners,” Adams says. “Mentorship is equally as important for the mentors as those being mentored.” Eric grew up learning the trade from his uncle, his first mentor in the industry. “The peer-to-peer connections are just as important.”
Ben Becker feels fortunate to have been asked to participate as well and says it has been a great experience. “I have been involved in NARI for about two years and since joining I am always looking for ways to improve and grow my business. I recognize I don’t know it all and if I can learn from a mentor who has already gone through similar growing pains, then it makes perfect sense to do so. Eric started by asking me questions about my business that required a lot of introspection, such as my goals for the next year and five years, how big do I want the business to be, what does my organizational structure look like now and what would it look like five years from now. These things seem basic and elementary in nature but when business is good we tend to get caught in the whirlwind of day-to-day activities instead of focusing on the bigger picture and long-term goals. Through working with Eric I’ve been able to create time to work on my goals and have a better bird’s eye view of my operations. The group meetings with everyone have been great as well because we are asked to recap our progress with the other mentors and mentees.”
The biggest impact for Ben and his company would be that his business is more organized and his team is more motivated now that they have some clear and measurable goals.
Roger Gallagher says he wanted to participate in the pilot for several reasons. “First, I feel that the more value EM NARI can offer its members, the stronger the organization will be as a whole, and the mentorship program is an incredible value for members. Second, I believe that the stronger our members are, the stronger our organization and industry will be as a whole. Third, I have received a lot of help during the course of my career as a remodeler and I feel I owe others the same kind of support. I think the mentors have a tremendous amount to learn from all of the participants – none of us has all of the answers, but between many of us, we can come with some of the answers.”
With 30 plus years of remodeling experience, Peter Feinmann says: “I have spent a lot of years learning and sharing with my peers in different environments. I was excited by the opportunity to work with our less experienced members in hope they can avoid many of the mistakes we have made over the years.”
Eric Adams agrees. He says his mentee, Benjamin Becker, is ahead of where he was at the same point in his business development. But he points out “you don’t know what you don’t know” so learning from peers and mentors is a wonderful opportunity.
Many NARI members have participated in groups such as the Business Network peer review group, Remodelers Advantage or one-on-one private coaching and sales training. Even the support found among NARI members has been beneficial according to Roger Gallagher. “I would have to say that my peers at NARI have been my mentors, and as I’ve watched what they’re doing, or as we’ve decided to learn things together, it has led to invaluable experiences.”
“I have not seen another chapter offering a program like our EM NARI Mentorship Program,” Glassburn says. “By formalizing the program, we were able to grow that effort and get new mentors involved. We also created a more consistent mentorship experience. The program allows us to add a richness to the experience as the participants get to connect not only with their mentor, but also the larger group of all six mentors. We also hope it fosters connections and community among the participants. Our hope is that when we reflect back in 10-15 years, this group of program participants will be active leaders and mentors for the next generation.”Cheryl SavitSavvy Wordscheryl@savvywords.com617-962-1564