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Wayne Independent - Honesdale, PA
  • Two Wayne County men elected to PBA

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  • -Two residents of Wayne County were recently elected to positions on the Pennsylvania Builders Association (PBA). Kevin Coutts, of Paupack, was named president and Joe Harcum, of Equinunk, was named treasurer of the PBA. Coutts is the president of Forest Homes of Lake Wallenpaupack, Inc. He is a member of the Wayne County Builders Association (WCBA), for which he has served as president and board member. He will be responsible for “overseeing the association’s activities on both state and national levels.” Coutts will also be a liaison to coalitions and task forces that PBA is a member of. Coutts became very familiar with the home construction business after growing up in that kind of environment. In 1996 he started his own company and runs it with his wife, Maria. He also has several designations from the National Association of Home Builders including Certified Graduate Builder (CGB), Graduate Master Builder (GMB) and Certified Green Professional (CGP). Coutts joined the WCBA in the “early 90s.” He has been president, regional legislative officer and the northeast region vice president. “I've been very active from the beginning,” he stated. “Once I got involved I found out quickly that you have to be actively involved.” He mentioned there's a remodeler's show and an international builders show. Coutts added it's so big that you “can't see everything in one trip.” Coutts said there are also educational classes available at the same time and you can “learn to improve your business.” “I've gotten more involved on the legislative end as the years have gone on,” Coutts said. “I'm a member of the federal government affairs committee at the national level and am very active at the local and state levels.” He said “one of the biggest” reasons the builders association exists is advocacy. “They fight for our rights to keep regulations at a minimum and keep housing affordable,” Coutts explained. When talking about being president of the PBA, Coutts said it's a “full time commitment.” “It means a lot and I'm not going to let the state down,” he said. “A lot of time is put into it. You get out what you put in.” His wife Maria is also very active. “We're a team,” Coutts said. “We work together. It works for us.” Coutts said one of the goals for 2014 is to implement the strategic plan that was passed at the end of last year. “We have to work with all of the local associations,” he said. “We're all in this to improve our businesses and lives and to help each other out.” He added they are going to continue to look at the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) regulations and repeal what should be. Coutts said we need to “go back to common sense.” Harcum is the president of The Duck Harbor Co. in Equinunk. He is a board member of the WCBA where he has previously served as president. He will be responsible for “overseeing the association’s financial activities on the state level.” This is his second consecutive year serving in this position. Harcum is also a member of the Damascus Township Planning Commission and serves on the boards for the Wayne Economic Development Corp., WEDCO and the Wayne Memorial Hospital. In 1987, he bought Duck Harbor Co. and in 2007 the company was named PBA’s Developer of the Year. Harcum is a graduate of Virginia Tech, where he earned his degree in business administration. He and his wife, Nancy, have four children and 10 grandchildren. Before owning Duck Harbor Co. Harcum worked on Wall Street for “over 30 years.” When he retired he moved to Wayne County and bought land at Duck Harbor Pond. Unlike Coutts, who grew up around the construction/builders world, Harcum “didn't know any builders.” He joined the WCBA to get involved and to “meet and get to know” builders. He has worked a great deal with environmental issues and the increased regulations by DEP and the Conservation District, where they “need a permit” for all they do. Harcum was the treasurer of PBA in 2009 and 2010. He was president of the WCBA in 2008, 2009 and 2010 and was a regional legislative officer in 2010 and 2011. He is also a member of the government affairs committee and vice chair of the environmental regulations affairs committee. “I do a lot of lobbying type work with the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB),” he said. “I do a lot environmentally.” Among the DEP regulations Harcum worked to stop was the use of septic systems in High Quality (HQ) and Exceptional Value (EV) watersheds. “Wayne County has 95 percent and Pike County has 97 percent high quality waters, the highest in the state,” said Harcum. “Had that act been implemented it would be a huge burden on residents, particularly first time home buyers.” He said the cost of a single family home would have been an extra $20,000 to $25,000. “The WCBA and PBA worked to stop DEP's effort and passed Act 41,” he said. Harcum is also a CGP and is working on becoming a Master Certified Green Professional (MCGP). Harcum and Coutts are still active members of the WCBA board. About PBA Chartered in 1952, the Pennsylvania Builders Association is a nonprofit professional trade organization representing more than 6,000 member-companies from across the commonwealth. One third of its members are comprising builders and the rest work for organizations and companies that support the home building industry in Pennsylvania. PBA members and their employees include builders, remodelers, material suppliers, subcontractors, consultants, lending institutions, utilities and others involved in the housing industry. PBA serves its membership by providing proactive leadership on state regulatory and legislative issues and by offering products and services to its 38 local associations and chapters that enhance the effectiveness and professionalism of its members. PBA serves Pennsylvania communities and consumers through its steadfast efforts to protect homeownership rights and advocate for affordable housing options. PBA is affiliated with the National Association of Home Builders. PBA is based in Lemoyne and has a staff of 12. It is made up of 38 local associations, grouped into eight regions. Local home builders associations provide members with opportunities for networking, education, regular meetings, awards programs, home shows and more. Members have many opportunities to have their voices heard, make business contacts, stay informed and build recognition with consumers. PBA works at the state level to provide advocacy and leadership on regulatory and legislative issues. They deal with a wide range of regulations and policies that affect members and their customers. They also provide benefits such as competitive insurance programs, opportunities for member involvement, awards programs and more. The NAHB represents our industry from coast to coast, provides a forum for information sharing, develops alliances with outside agencies and national partners, advocates nationally and provides opportunities for education and networking. When members join a local home builders association, they automatically become a member at the state and national levels. PBA fights on behalf of the consumers to help keep building costs in check. Recent successes include the 2011 sprinkler repeal and more recently, stopping the 2012 building codes, which could have resulted in an additional $15,000 for the average home built in PA.
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