About the time that Brian Catalde got involved in the Building Industry Association (BIA) of Southern California, he read a book titled The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations, by James Surowiecki.

Initially, the book didn't have much of an impact on Catalde, president and COO of Paragon Communities in El Segundo, Calif., and incoming president of the 235,000-member NAHB. “When I first picked it up, I didn't really understand the overall message,” he admits.

Yet the book and the lessons it offered about teamwork stuck in Catalde's head, encouraging him to take a team-oriented approach when he served as president of the BIA of Southern California in 1995 and as president of the California BIA in 1999.

As the incoming NAHB president, Catalde is applying the lessons he learned from The Wisdom of Crowds, choosing to work with the organization's executive team to build long-term goals.

NEW APPROACH: New NAHB president Brian Catalde wants to set in motion a system of long-term  goal-making for the association. “I don't want to build a legacy as  president. If I do the job right, I won't be remembered, but the culture  will have changed, and the organization will be a little better than it was  before.”
NEW APPROACH: New NAHB president Brian Catalde wants to set in motion a system of long-term goal-making for the association. “I don't want to build a legacy as president. If I do the job right, I won't be remembered, but the culture will have changed, and the organization will be a little better than it was before.”

“I've adopted the mentality that leading the NAHB is not about me,” Catalde says. “It's about giving the team the right information and encouraging them to make the right decisions for the NAHB's future.”

FINDING A BALANCE Catalde has been active in the Southern California home building industry for more than 30 years, founding Paragon in the early 1980s. The company, which specializes in single-family homes ranging from entry-level to luxury and builds some multifamily, grew substantially throughout the 1990s, delivering more than 3,000 homes annually.

Today, Paragon is much smaller, producing about 500 homes a year. Catalde decided to downsize the company to focus on his NAHB responsibilities. Earlier in his career, Catalde found it challenging to balance his full-time job at Paragon with his volunteer activities at local and state building associations. But he felt that the benefits of his involvement far outweighed the costs.

“Through the [NAHB], I was able to access resources and talk to other builders who offered incredible insight and knowledge,” Catalde recalls. “Their wisdom helped us save money and make money.”

With his commitment to governmental affairs, Catalde ended up serving as chairman of government affairs for the BIA of Southern California and eventually held a similar position at the state level. He joined the NAHB's Federal Governmental Affairs Committee in the late 1990s and chaired the committee in 2001.

Catalde's participation on the Federal Governmental Affairs Committee paved the way to a position on the NAHB's board of directors. He also served as a national vice president and as a member of the NAHB's political action committee, BUILD-PAC, the fifth-largest trade association PAC in the country.

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