Will Engel, Chairman of the Board
The Cornerstone Club members are a highly visible and an elite group of contributors to the building industry. They are responsible for sustaining a number of Wichita Area Builders Association events and activities over the years to include: special legislative meetings with Key Legislators, social hours at general membership meetings, hospitality rooms at the International Builders Show, hosting Christmas open house, new member orientation mixers, hosting dinners for NAHB staff and officers when they visit our local association, Habitat for Humanity and Homes for Our Troops ribbon cutting events.
In 1979, the leadership of the Wichita Area Builder’s Association wanted to pay special tribute honoring Si Womer, a founder and truly esteemed leader of our Association. The Cornerstone award was created to honor Si and the presentation ceremony was probably the most memorable event I have experienced as a member since that time. Also, near that same time we decided that it wasn’t fair to continually ask a very small group of large companies to sponsor our social and political events. Clearly it was time for the rest of us to help sponsor some of these events but in a much smaller, more affordable way. Although the original award was intended to be a one-time event, the idea caught on. The opportunity for recognizing a true “Cornerstone” of the industry and the financial opportunity for service from additional members led to the birth of the Cornerstone Club.
By their active involvement in all three phases of membership beginning at the local level in the Wichita Area Builders Association, on the state level with their participation in the Kansas Building Industry Association and at national level by their committee work in the National Association of Home Builders, Cornerstone award recipients strive to “make a difference” at each level of involvement for the betterment of the entire building industry.
This year, the Cornerstone Award Committee, consisting of the last three Cornerstone Award recipients, Jim Gearhart, David Gatz and Tom Baalmann, made the decision it was past time that we recognize Wess Galyon for all his contributions to our industry.
During the annual Cornerstone Banquet, it was announced that Wess Galyon will be this year’s Cornerstone Award recipient and was recognized for making outstanding contributions to the Association and the industry over his thirty plus years serving as our President/CEO of WABA. Through his leadership and mentoring process, he has developed one of the top builders’ associations in the country here in Wichita. To the Cornerstone Club members, he is more than a paid staff member, he is a “builder.” He does not use 2×4’s and nails as we do to build a house, because he uses alliances and collaboration to bring us together in the association to achieve more than we could ever achieve on our own.
Under his leadership we built a new Office for our staff, when it became evident, we needed a new “home” and Wess was our builder of choice. Wess lead us into founding the Home Builders Care Foundation to leverage our collective efforts to help all the philanthropic causes we are partners with such as, Habitat for Humanity, Victory in the Valley, Inter Faith Ministries, Wichita Children’s Home, Homes for Our Troops, Make-A-Wish and the Kansas Food Bank to name a few.
Wess has been our voice to the elected officials when it comes to anything that effects our industry politically. The association desires, “to be seated at the table rather than being on the menu,” when dealing in the political realm of our business. In this arena Wess has served on several selection committees to hire city and county staff that affect the building industry. He oversaw the consolidation of the building codes inspection department from the city of Wichita and Sedgwick county into one government agency known today as Metropolitan Area Building Codes Department.
Wess was instrumental in getting our product, a newly constructed home, into the hands of every buyer with our web presence, “ahouseahead.com.” The leadership he provided in building this website allows all members the opportunity to market their newly constructed home in a unique way on the internet. “Ahouseahead.com” only markets newly constructed homes and differentiates them from all the resale homes on the internet by bringing everything “new” together in one location on the web.
Wess has accomplished many things as our Association’s CEO and has been “making a difference” in our industry since 1986. We felt it was time to honor him for all his contributions. The award will be presented to Wess at the Home Show VIP night in February. We hope you’ll join us that evening in honoring him.
Congratulations Wess Galyon 2019 Cornerstone Recipient.