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National Association of Church Design Builders

Connecting planners to builders

As an intermediary, the National Association of Church Design Builders (NACDB) matches churches across the nation with its builder membership.

As the third party between potential clients and its members, the NACDB represents a multitude of design builders across the United States in consulting and recommending the most suitable of its members for any current go-to project.

About eight years ago, the now President of the NACDB, Greg Barron, of Dallas-Fort Worth construction company GL Barron, attended an industry networking event. It was at that time when Barron, a Christian, learned of the perception of churches, and at that time strived to change its seemingly negative image. Barron teamed with a group of friends in deciding to begin the association, with a mandate to educate. As such, the NACDB has built itself upon its key foundations of integrity, teamwork, and excellence in all operations.

This month, the American Business Journal spoke with NACDB Executive Director Tobey Van Wormer, highlighting the overall benefits of this unique networking initiative.

Association membership

“We really try to be the experts that the church can turn to in order to get those difficult questions answered and to build those relationships with people that will take care of them,” said Van Wormer.

Van Wormer estimates that, currently, the NACDB has 37 builders across the United States. The organization has been in operation since 2003, but remains a relatively new operation.

“We are an exclusive group, so once we have a territory covered, we will not let another builder in that area, unless the other builder tells us it is okay,” said Van Wormer.

“The reason we limited this is because we want to make sure that there are true best practices being used here because there is no competition for our builders. There really is exclusivity and the builders can gain knowledge from each other through marketing and other ideas.”

In addition to its 37 members, the NACDB also houses 60 associate members, which Van Wormer believes will only see more growth in the future. As part of the association, all members submit annual dues to be a part of this exclusive group. But not just any can join, as the association’s most trusted leaders investigate only the best of association applicants.

Two different types of memberships—full and associate—create a bigger network for the NACDB, including design builders as full members and associates as the subcontractors, such as drywall companies and audio/video companies, as part of the organization. These separate entities create the core of the national association.

“There is a pretty strict vetting process that takes place in order to be a part of our association,” Van Wormer said. “[Builders] will give us references of churches that they have worked with so that I, as the executive director, will get their take on how they were treated.”
From there, findings are submitted in a report that is presented to the board of directors. Applicants are welcomed into the association upon approval from the board.

Compelling growth strategy

But what may be most impressive of the NACDB is that, in an age of difficult construction times, the association has retained more than 85 percent of its membership, a feat Van Wormer attributes to the continuity between the association’s builders and the value in sharing information across this exclusive network. But with such growth totals already, how much is left for the association?

“I don’t think we are going to grow huge because we are so careful about who we let in,” Van Wormer added. “Will we ever have 50 builders? I doubt it…just because of that exclusivity.”

The cost of networking

When it comes to construction, cost is always among the largest of factors, and, for the NACDB, that is no different. As expected, part of the first questions always asked is how much will a construction project of this type cost and, in doing so, will the church be able to accomplish the goals of its community. The NACDB solution to this is its web tool Pricing Profiler, allowing applicants to fill out what their building project desires, like number of church seats, to whether their building will have multiple storeys, to particular church furnishings. Next, these specifications are submitted to estimators cross-country, who are associated with the NACDB.

Van Wormer believes NACDB projects range “all over the board”, with no assignment too small or too big. The association commits to its communities with builders residing in these areas for decades, built on the association’s motto “to serve the church as experts in the educational process, architectural design, and construction.

“We are not going to send a general contractor from Sacramento to build your church in Nashville. We have builders that will be in communities long after the church is built,” Van Wormer concluded. “We are not the biggest builders; we are the local builders. After the big builders have come and gone, we will still be in your community.” 


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