Taking an Active Role

Ankeny’s Steph Reed named to national HBA Board.

This past month Ankeny REALTOR® and home builder Steph Reed was named to the NAHB Professional Women in Building Board of Trustees at the International Builders Show (IBS) in Las Vegas. This honor comes after years of taking an active role promoting the home construction and real estate fields, a role she’ll now be taking to a national level.

“It’s not something I expected,” says Reed. “But I’m excited to see what can happen as a result.”

Her one-year term on the board will involve attending several events throughout the year and supporting the Midwest region she represents.

“I’m really hoping to be a force for those states that are underrepresented,” Reed says. “I’d like to help get those areas more established by the end of my term as well as grow our own state participation.”

According to Melisa Cox of the HBA of Greater Des Moines, that’s bound to happen with Reed on the board.

“Her mind just never stops,” Cox says. “From the day we started the Professional Women in Building (PWB) chapter in Des Moines, she’s been out there talking to people. If anyone has an idea, she helps bring it to life. She’s just constantly got lightbulbs going off and ideas she’s chasing.”

One of her first ideas for the PWB was a coloring book highlighting the skilled trades, which the PWB will distribute during school visits in the Des Moines area. That little book may have been the spark that got her noticed by the NAHB.

“We had Judy Dinelle, former chairperson of the NAHB Professional Women in Building, in town when we kicked off the PWB. She was so impressed with Steph when she saw what she’d done already,” Cox explains. “She’s the one who nominated Steph for the national board.”

“We want to encourage all who are interested in the construction trades,” Reed emphasizes. “We don’t want to perpetuate the division that already exists between the genders, so our local coloring book includes both men and women.”

The book has been instrumental in the PWB’s outreach efforts in local schools, one of the many efforts Reed helped organize. Cox says Reed’s passion for the skilled trades and mentoring young people are key to the rapid growth of the Des Moines chapter. In the 10 months since it began, the group has grown to 50 members and has accomplished goals ranging from school presentations and social networking activities to creating a scholarship fund (see “Get Active”).

This passion for the skilled trades comes naturally to Reed. As a high school student, she worked construction with her father, doing everything from installing and finishing drywall, hanging wall paper, and painting.

She says, “I developed a relationship with my dad that I wouldn’t have had otherwise, and I enjoyed working with my hands and seeing the finished product when I was done with a job.”

Reed’s husband encouraged her to get back into the field in some way when she was ready to go back to work after staying home with her children for several years.

“He suggested I get my real estate license. That was in 2009, which wouldn’t normally seem like the best time to get into real estate when the market was bad. But it was the opposite for me. I was able to learn and build up a career gradually while the market was slow, and then I was ready when it picked back up again,” she explains.

During that time, she began doing open houses for a local builder, which renewed her love of construction. She spent seven years working with him, learning the ins and outs of the business from the owner’s side while also listing and selling his new homes.

“I was really fortunate to get into the business at a time when I could just absorb all the things around me,” says Reed. “When we decided to change up our business models, he encouraged me to go out on my own. It’s been the best decision of my career.”

Reed opened Partners by Design Homes two years ago and has already won Builder of the Year from the HBA of Greater Des Moines.

“When I was getting started learning the business a decade ago, it didn’t seem like there were a lot of women around,” she says. “But since we started the PWB, more and more women are entering the trades. We want to encourage that and educate parents and young people about the opportunities available.”

Between the Skilled Trades Alliance, the construction trades program at Central Campus, and the efforts of Professional Women in Business, Reed says the outlook for the skilled trades is bright.

“We’ve already demonstrated that the PWB is an action group, not just a social organization,” she says. “During my time on the Board of Trustees, I want to help push that educational effort from a national level and to see more PWB chapters in Iowa over the next few years, too. I think Iowa is set to become a skilled trades mecca with all the resources we’re developing.”

That’s the kind of vision that got Reed nominated to the board. And she’ll be taking the same kind of active role on behalf of the Midwest region she represents.

Get Active!

Learn more about Professional Women in Building.

“The PWB Des Moines chapter is open to anyone,” says Melisa Cox. “Whether you have a background in the skilled trades, a passion for mentoring, or you just want to get involved, we can find your place and put your talents to work.”

Visit Facebook to learn more about getting involved.

Here’s a sampling of what’s ahead for 2019:

  • Build My Future, April
  • Girls Construction Camp, Summer
  • Developing promotional materials
  • Creating a promotional video in conjunction with Skilled Trades Alliance, Remodelers Council, and HBA of Greater Des Moines
  • School visits
  • PWB scholarships, click here for application.
  • For more information, contact Melisa Cox
    HBA of Greater Des Moines
    (515) 270-8500.