Veterans Forge New Paths with Home Building Careers
Each year on Veterans Day, we give thoughts and words of appreciation to the brave men and women who sacrifice so much to defend our freedom and safety. In the home building industry, rather simply thanking them, many builders also are hiring veterans.
The industry has long focused on training veterans through the Home Builders Institute, the nonprofit partner of NAHB. The HBI Military and Veterans Program operates on a number of U.S. military bases with training, certification and placement services focused on landing home building jobs for transitioning military members and veterans.
Skills learned in the military can easily transfer to the home building industry.
Marci O’Brien, a new home sales specialist in California, served in the Marine Corps from 1989 to 1994. After her duty was done, she got a real estate license and began participating in the housing boom in Southern California during the mid-90s.
“The Marines gave me so much confidence that I just went around knocking on doors looking for a job,” she said. O’Brien found one pretty quickly and has been in the industry ever since.
She noted that the Marines’ unofficial slogan “Improvise, Adapt and Overcome” helped her a great deal in 2008 and 2009 during the housing collapse. “The ability to confront challenges head-on and the thick skin I developed were invaluable during that time,” she said.
Looking to join a supportive community, O’Brien became involved in the Sales & Marketing Council of the BIA of Southern California soon after starting in the industry, eventually serving on its board.
That sense of belonging and accreditation also rings true for Air Force veteran Quint Lears, MIRM, who specializes in new home sales in New Mexico.
“Continuing education and certification play a big role in military advancement,” he said. “So I continued that pattern in civilian life.”
Lears also became involved with NAHB and his local Las Cruces (N.M.) HBA early in his career. He won the 2012 Salesperson of the Year at The Nationals and has recently published a book through Builder Books, Partnering with Brokers to Win More Sales.
Lears said that his time serving his country gave him the skills and an appreciation of the home building industry that has propelled his home sales career. His experiences in the military helped him understand that the small steps needed to sell a home, like putting up signs, for instances, were all important in completing the mission.
But his biggest lesson was empathy. “Seeing the stress so many other guys went through with regard to their families really hit home,” Lears said, noting that he was single at the time. That’s why he doesn’t try any tricks or gimmicks when selling homes; he knows families are already stressed by the process.
As we recognize Veteran’s Day today, be sure to thank those around you that served and hope that you’ll be working beside even more veterans in the future.