Q&A: Ed Brady, New President and CEO of Home Builders Institute

Home Builders Institute (HBI) announced this week that Illinois home builder and developer Ed Brady will lead HBI as its new president and CEO.

With nearly 30 years in the building industry, Brady brings decades of experience leading a multi-million-dollar home building company, serving as director of the Chicago Federal Home Loan Bank and working with leading experts to advance the nation’s housing policy. Brady has also served as a senior officer with the National Association of Home Builders and as the 2016 chairman of the board of directors.

Brady shared his plan for his new role, discussed current challenges facing the home building industry and shared his story with Builder & Developer magazine:

BD: Tell us about your background, what led you to becoming HBI’s new President and CEO?

Ed Brady: I am a second-generation homebuilder. I started at the age of 13 cleaning up construction sites.  I learned carpentry from a union master carpenter in college and have been building houses since April of 1988.  During those 30 plus years, I found myself advocating for and defending our industry. My involvement in the building industry led me to leadership positions at the local, state and national levels, culminating in 2016 with my position as the Chairman of the Board of Directors for the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), after five years on the NAHB leadership ladder. I see the HBI President and CEO position as a continuation and extension of that advocacy. I have a passion for the men and women working in this industry and the part of the American dream we help provide. As the expression goes, “If the shoe fits, wear it.” In this case, this position fits me well.

BD: How do you plan to use your new role at HBI to impact the home building industry?

Ed Brady: HBI, in my humble opinion, is the best national provider of a curriculum for skills trades training in the residential construction industry. HBI’s industry-recognized curriculum coupled with its knowledgeable, certified instructors who teach the professionals entering our industry are exceptional. And, equally important for HBI is the commitment to place men and women in careers in the industry. HBI’s services to students who are learning construction trades help them to not only provide for themselves and their families, but also provide skilled labor that helps address the industry’s labor shortage and meet the housing needs in this country.

HBI serves many purposes. I will use my new position as a platform to continue to advocate for the need for skilled labor, secure the necessary funding for training resources for the next generation of professionals, and to continue my work to change the perception that a career in construction skills is not an acceptable way of making a living. Not only is it acceptable, it is personally rewarding in so many ways.

BD: What do you believe are the current challenges and concerns for home builders right now? How is HBI helping to solve these issues?

Ed Brady: As a homebuilder who has traveled this country talking and working with homebuilders, carpenters, plumbers and other tradespeople, I certainly understand how difficult this business can be. Our men and women take a piece of land and turn it into neighborhoods, communities where people raise their families, see their children get married and care for their parents. Along the way, we take risks. We work day and night, we challenge local government regulations, and we must finance our risks. We must hire men and women to provide the skills to build. We must buy quality products to build the houses. Then, we must warranty them for years. Our industry faces all of these challenges every day.  Land, finance, cost and labor — these are the top of mind challenges of today’s homebuilders.

Trade is a big concern. Government regulation is another. But the one I am committed to addressing and one of the biggest concerns in the industry is the lack of skilled labor. That is HBI’s job — to carry out its Five Steps of Service—to connect, access, train, certify and place individuals in good paying jobs and high-growth careers in the construction industry. In collaboration with our many funders, we are accomplishing our goals with Job Corps, military installations, correctional facilities, high schools and other partners across the country. If we do our job well, we serve our constituents, communities and country well as a result.

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