This year, Best in American Living is pleased to help introduce the next generation of housing industry leaders.
Adam Aschmann, vice president and general counsel for Houston-based Tilson Homes, chairs the NAHB Young Professionals Committee and NAHB’s Taxation Subcommittee. He was previously on the staff of the Greater Houston Builders Association and was named to the Professional Builder 40 under 40 in 2014. Tilson Homes employs about 150 and builds custom homes across Texas.
Adam took some time out of his busy schedule to interview with us. He says being a builder’s general counsel connects his passion for housing and government affairs. Read on to find out Adam’s take on advocacy and challenges in the industry.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I am an attorney who has worked on a presidential campaign, in Congress, for a president, and I have been a lobbyist in Texas. I have been with Tilson for six years and general counsel for about a year and a half.
What achievement are you most proud of?
Outside of being a good husband and father, earning the right to become Tilson’s general counsel is one of the achievements I am most proud of. Having been a lobbyist for years, being given the opportunity to go to law school in my 30s, while working full time and being a full-time husband and dad, allowed me to show myself I could do it. It also allowed me to show my kids that they can achieve anything they want with hard work and determination.
Why are you passionate about this industry?
I grew up the son of a plumber and spent my summers roughing in houses. This industry, in many ways, has raised me and made me the man I am. I’m also passionate about government affairs in terms of how policy can shape our industry. In my job now, I’ve found the intersection of the two.
What you like best about the home building industry?
The people and the purpose. Truly, what an honor we have to build a family their home.
Why is government advocacy important to home building? How can builders take part?
As the old saying goes, you are either at the table or you are on the menu. Every policy that Congress, your state legislature, or local city council creates will likely either have an impact on you, your business, or your home owners — or all three. If you take part in the local, state, and national conversations with your HBA and NAHB, you can make sure there are policies that work for your business and the industry. If you are talking about something like tax reform, having a seat at the table and a close eye on what’s being proposed is critical.
Just because we are builders and remodelers doesn’t mean we have no voice in the bigger picture of our communities. We do an important service to the community and should have a say. That’s why advocacy is so important in the housing industry. And you can start doing that at any point in your career.
What are the biggest challenges the industry faces?
Where to begin? Short term, living in Houston and seeing the devastation that Harvey left throughout southeast Texas is hard. The people whose homes were flooded are in for a very long recovery process, with many being told that they won’t be able to have their home remodeled for over a year. That’s pretty difficult to witness. Our remodeling community is overwhelmed with the sheer need.
This will also impact labor and material prices across the region, and potentially the country, for years to come. When you add Hurricane Irma and Maria on top of Harvey, the impacts will be long-lasting and I don’t think any of us will know the true impact until rebuilding in Texas and Florida and Puerto Rico are well underway.
In addition to the materials shortage, as happens after every major catastrophe, we are seeing an influx of folks to our industry who see an opportunity. This is both wonderful and concerning. It is always great to see people step up to help one another, but it is also concerning because you hope these folks will build and rebuild these homes well and stand by their work. We’ve seen that some bad actors can leave a black eye on our industry that we will have to fight off legislatively at the local and state levels.
As far as long-term challenges, the constant growth of regulation in our industry and the labor shortages we face are two issues that don’t seem to want to go away.
— National Association of Home Builders