Master Builders leader closing a door

After Big Home and Garden Show, executive officer Laura Worf says she’s leaving April 30

rboone@theolympian.comApril 14, 2014 

It was a wrap for the Olympia Master Builders’ Big Home and Garden Show on Sunday as the weekend event drew more vendors than last year, but attendance fell because of the outstanding weather, OMB executive officer Laura Worf said.

The show was at Saint Martin’s University in Lacey.

It also was a wrap for Worf, who will leave the organization at the end of the month after spending seven years guiding the trade association that serves builders, remodelers and others in a five-county region.

Worf said her daily duties end April 30, but she plans to assist with the transition until a new executive officer is named. OMB communications director Angela White will fill the executive officer role in the interim, beginning May 1.

Worf said she’s passionate about the building industry, but she also was ready for a change of pace, stating her intentions at the beginning of the year and then finalizing her decision this month.

Worf, 55, said she’s not retiring from work, but wants to take some time off before her next career move. She still enjoys working with large groups and likes to use her organizational skills, she said.

Worf grew up in the Olympia area and later worked for the Building Industry Association of Washington. She also is a past executive officer of the Pierce County Home Builders Association.

A family-related move took her to Rochester, Minn., where she did some consulting, and then she returned and applied for the opening at Olympia Master Builders.

Olympia contractor Tim Dickey, who serves on the OMB board and is a past president, was on the search committee that hired Worf, he said Sunday at the Home and Garden Show.

He praised her expertise and the amount of work she did to support the organization, such as lobbying on behalf of contractors and builders.

“I hate to see her go and wish her all the best,” Dickey said.

Worf also guided the organization during one of the most challenging times for the housing industry as it went from boom to bust.

Going into 2008, OMB had more than 1,000 members, she said. By 2011, it had fallen by almost 50 percent to more than 600.

Still, the organization was relatively healthy compared with similar groups throughout the country, she said.

When OMB had more than 1,000 members, it ranked as the 52nd largest builders group out of an estimated 800 in the country.

And even after losing 50 percent of its members, it moved up to 28th largest, an indication of how much shakeout there was in the building industry, she said.

“A lot of the local homebuilders are gone,” Worf said, adding that they have been replaced by larger regional and national builders who have snapped up vacant lots to complete unfinished subdivisions.

“A lot has changed in this industry,” she said.

Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403 rboone@theolympian.com

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