As CEO of the Home Builders Association of Greater Lansing (HBA), Cindy Kosloski works to keep up with industry trends, serve her members, be a resource to the community and help make houses into homes. “I love my job! Some days I think to myself ‘I am working?’ because it never feels like ‘work,’” Kosloski said. Kosloski is passionate about her role and works to connect the 298 HBA members with the communities they serve. Kosloski’s role as CEO keeps her on her toes, but her prestigious title doesn’t stop her from doing everything she can for the association. “Just because I have the title CEO doesn’t mean I’m not putting labels on envelopes, updating the Facebook status, out representing HBA, attending meetings, working with committees or doing events,” said Kosloski. “Every day you just don’t know what’s going to happen and I love that.” One task she takes very seriously is correcting the misconceptions that the public has about hiring professionals to work on their homes. Kosloski says she hates when people call HBA after they have been taken advantage of by a dishonest organization. Kosloski’s mission is to get everyone to think HBA first to make sure the job gets done right. “I think the biggest misconception is that if you are hiring someone and they are a ‘professional’ that they are licensed and insured,” said Kosloski. “We always say, ‘think HBA first.’ We hate it when someone calls us after the fact and we ask ‘did you check to see if they were insured or licensed?’ Most people don’t. But if they had called us first they could have saved money. Now, they are out the money they paid the first guy and the money to get the job done right.” A hurdle both Kosloski and her members face is bargain shoppers who are so focused on getting the lowest price possible they don’t look at the bigger picture. When it comes to home building, remodeling and maintenance, getting a job done on the cheap can cost you more down the road. “People think that our members who have nice trucks and who display themselves to the public are larger companies who cost more and they aren’t. When they hire a member of HBA they get a professional. They are companies who are proud to represent the industry; they take their time and stand by their work. They are the best of the best,” Kosloski said. HBA members have proved time and time again that they are the best, even when times got tough. “When you think about it, they have to be the best. HBA has more than 290 members and they have survived through some tough years. It tells you a lot about them and their business. It shows they know the market and have good business sense,” said Kosloski. “Our members are hardworking individuals. They are trendsetters, they get down in there and they love it. They are very passionate about what they do. They are committed.” Kosloski lives and breathes HBA, but she doesn’t see that as a bad thing, in her opinion she has found the perfect, imperfect balance. “I feel like a lot of my social stuff is work related. I’m not sure I ever found a balance like everyone says, but I kind of like that. I don’t feel like it is overwhelming, I know a lot of our members more personally because I’ve just been here so long,” Kosloski said. She notes that even though her personal and professional life may have merged to become one, it is her supportive husband, fabulous stepdaughter, caring family and close-knit friends that keep her motived. “I live with my husband, I have a fabulous stepdaughter and I love spending time with family and friends, it makes me happy,” said Kosloski. “I have a great group of friends. I think as women professionals we share in each other’s happy times and sad times and in the professional challenges and our achievements. We always have each other. It’s constant, my friends and family are like my core.” As far as being a female professional in a male-dominated industry, Kosloski doesn’t mind at all. With eight years under her belt before becoming CEO, Kosloski had experience to fall back on and gumption to carry her through. “It is very male dominated, but it is becoming less odd to have women in the industry. Women are getting involved. I get involved, I like to work with the members because together we can figure out the best path,” said Kosloski. “I’ve been very open since I started, I’ve never felt like I had to prove myself just because I am a woman. I had eight years leading up to this to prove I was worthy.” As a smart and witty professional, Kosloski thrives on learning. Early in her career she absorbed as much as possible. Starting at the Michigan Nurses Association, moving on to work at the Small Business Association of Michigan and then finding her first position as Director of Marketing with the HBA, Kosloski truly found her niche. Her roles though the years may have changed but her excitement to be involved, to learn and embrace her role — whatever it was — hasn’t. “I did two years at Lansing Community College (LCC) and received my paralegal (certificate), then I interned at the Ingham County Prosecutors office. I started at the Michigan Nurses Association in the mailroom and on downtime I would try to learn about what was going on around me. I had a great foundation from standing in the basement waiting for things to happen. I feel like I learned from the ground up and that has been a very positive thing for me. It’s those little things that helped me feel like I understood every department,” Kosloski said. Kosloski has taken the time to get to know the industry she currently works in inside and out even if that includes hanging out at dusty job sites. “I think I adapt when I am talking to people. Even guys who are dirty and building a deck, I like to have conversations with them. I don’t always look like I belong there but it is part of adapting to better understand,” said Kosloski. Kosloski says the key to her success with HBA is very simple. “Always remember your members are the most important thing, no matter what. Your members are the driving force behind the whole thing,” she said. Her approach to the association may be simple but that’s not to say she doesn’t face some challenges when trying to represent all 298 members. “I think the biggest challenge is keeping up. You are always trying to keep your members at the forefront of what is important for them. Finding something that works for nearly 300 organizations is difficult. But you find little niches and you find what works best for them and you make sure you are listening to them so they get what they need out of the organization,” Kosloski said. Her personal challenge comes into play when it comes to convincing her husband they need new flooring, landscaping or to build a new house. Kosloski says the temptation to keep up with industry trends in her own home is always present and the work she has done has left neighbors envious. “I think it is so interesting to see everything our members do. I get to see so much stuff, even walking through the parade of homes I end up going home and saying ‘I want new floors, it’s time for new floors.’ I find that I make a lot of changes when I see new stuff,” said Kosloski. “I was big on having our landscaping done so certain things would bloom at certain times. My neighbor was definitely jealous. But I think it just shows that I believe in what our members do, in what I do.” BUILDING BLOCKS OF HBA The Home Builders Association of Greater Lansing (HBA) is a nonprofit trade association comprised of members from the home building industry. The membership includes homebuilders, remodelers, developers and residential suppliers in the Lansing region. The HBA’s mission is a dedication to the advancement of the membership and the housing industry. The HBA is one of more than 800 local homebuilder associations in the United States. Residential construction is a vital component of the Lansing regional economy. The HBA encourages residents to use local HBA members on housing projects. The HBA hosts several events throughout the year including the popular Parade of Homes. This annual event allows the public to tour newly constructed homes and remodeled projects built by the area’s finest builders. Other HBA events include the Toys for Tots drive on Dec. 10 at the Eagle Eye Banquet Facility and the Wild Game Dinner, which will also take place at Eagle Eye on Jan. 18, 2014. To learn more about HBA and its members visit www.hbalansing.com.
Ami Iceman-Hauter is the Brand Manager at M3 Group in downtown Lansing. Iceman is a graduate of Michigan State University with a bachelors degree in creative advertising.