Working in the construction industry wasn’t the original plan for Meredith Lary Poland. It was not even the second or third plan. Despite that, the central Arkansas native has made to become a leader in Arkansas’ residential home building industry.
Now the executive officer of the Home Builders Association of Greater Little Rock (HBA-GLR), Poland is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the residential construction industry in the central Arkansas area. In this new role, which she accepted in June 2019, Poland is heading up educational efforts, professional development, legislative efforts and more.
“The Home Builders Association of Greater Little Rock has been around for the minute. It represents all facets of the residential building industry in central Arkansas,” Poland says. “We do that through educational programs, advocating for professionalism, by having seminars and by staying abreast of governmental affairs and relevant legislative changes.”
The association, founded in 1951, has been serving home builders, remodelers, manufacturers, service providers and more for more than 60 decades. It is at the forefront of keeping central Arkansas’ construction industry vibrant and keeping construction professionals working.
Construction was not originally in the cards for Poland. Instead, she was focusing on sports medicine and athletic training at Arkansas State University. Seeing a lack of job opportunities in that field, she pivoted to sales and hospitality.
Her path eventually led her to the nonprofit arena. After serving as the director membership and marketing at Sherwood’s North Hills Country Club, she later became the director of development for the Girl Scouts of Ouachita Council.
“That started my nonprofit career. I worked for eight years with the Girl Scouts. I was originally with the Girl Scouts of Ouachita Council, and during my time there, they went through a national merger,” she says.
After the merger, she became the regional development director for the Girl Scouts – Diamonds of Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas. In this capacity, Poland headed up development for more than 800 troops across three states.
She had one more nonprofit stop, at the Museum of Discovery as Chief Advancement Officer, before heading back to the for-profit world. “I left the nonprofit world for the for-profit world to work in the oil industry in a marketing role for about five years,” Poland says.
After several years away, Poland has returned to the land of non-profits. Poland isn’t planning to rest of her or the HBA-GLR’s laurels. Despite only being in the role a few short months, Poland is already planning to “further” the HBA-GLR’s mission and improve its services and offerings.
In the first 90 days of her tenure, Poland has been assessing the association to determine where it is and devise a game plan to take it forward. Poland admits that the HBA-GLR has faced reduced numbers recently. “Membership has been down a little bit over the past several years,” she says.
To counter this decline, Poland plans to increase promotion for what the association offers its members and get out to show the work that the association is doing in the industry. She also plans to have increased educational programs as a way of building membership.
Building membership and operating a nonprofit isn’t a cakewalk, though. That’s why the organization relies on special events, like the association’s home sale and a golf tournament, to fund its legislative efforts and other programs.
“What a lot of people don’t realize is that the Home Builders Association is a nonprofit. We rely on our attractions, like the tournament and home show, which allows us to do what we do for government affairs, education and membership opportunities,” she says.
Poland is up for the challenge, though. A veteran of the nonprofit world, she has established herself as a leader who can advance their association and industry.
This executive is ready to start building.