MBA & Local High Schools Partnership - Recognized with National Award


Contact: Pam Lohnes, Director of Operations and Events
Phone: (262) 522-4720

Builders Association & Local High Schools Partnership
Recognized with National Award
Parade of Playhomes gives students hands-on building experience.

Pewaukee, WI – August 24, 2023 – The Metropolitan Builders Association (MBA) has been nationally recognized with the Association Excellence Award from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) for the Best Home or Industry Trade Show recognizing the inaugural Parade of Playhomes featured at the MBA Home Building and Remodeling EXPO in early January.

The Parade of Playhomes, sponsored by Bell Bank Mortgage, mimics the concept of the Parade of Homes event the Association holds annually, which is the longest running Parade of Homes in the country. The MBA partnered with area high school construction programs to build 12 playhomes and showcase the student’s work and raffle the playhouse to EXPO attendees. All the proceeds from the raffle benefited the Home Building Trades Foundation to create financial support and pathways for students interested in a building trades career.
“We are thrilled to receive this award and to see the national association places so much value in the partnerships we’ve formed with local high schools,” said Pam Lohnes, Director of Operations and Events for the MBA. “The benefits of this idea are two-fold: to bring hands-on building experience and industry exposure to students and creating a fundraiser event to benefit the Home Building Trades Foundation.”

Each school received a starter kit of building materials donated and delivered by Zuern Building Supply, an MBA Associate Member. The students then created their design for the four-foot-by-six-foot structure and spent the first semester of school building the playhomes complete with a roof, door and window openings, and sustainable for the outdoors. MBA Builder members sponsored the playhomes, one builder per school, offering their time, mentorship, and financial support.

“It is so rewarding to provide students with this hands-on opportunity. As the schools dropped off their completed playhomes to the EXPO, the students were so proud of their accomplishments,” said Sarajane Trier, Area Manager with Bell Bank Mortgage. “One student (a female) told me she wanted to be a plumber, another student is interested in real estate, and another wants to be a builder. Creating excitement for a career in the trades was our mission, mission accomplished.”

The high schools that participated in the Parade of Playhomes include Muskego, Oconomowoc, Kettle Moraine, Kingdom Prep Lutheran, and Wauwatosa East. Parents of the students attended a special builder meet-and-greet at the opening of the EXPO to see the completed projects.

With the success and excitement, the MBA will once again feature the Parade of Playhomes at the 2024 EXPO in Janaury. More schools are interested in participating and the MBA looks to enhance the student experience by creating scopes of work, construction standards and have an architectural control committee review the plan designs prior to construction. Students are set to begin the next round of playhomes in September.

“These enhancements to the program will give students a taste of construction and the steps builders follow prior to starting to build a new home,” added Lohnes. “We hope to increase the school participation this year and give even more students exposure to the trades and enhance their technical skills, agility and adaptability to thrive in the world of work,”

The Association Excellence Awards is an annual program designed to recognize the outstanding accomplishments of state and local home builders’ associations and executive officers in the field of association management. Executive Officer Council membership is comprised of the staff executives who direct more than 590 NAHB-affiliated state and local home builders’ associations representing more than 130,000 home builders in communities across the United States.
“The AEA - HBA Award submissions from our Federation’s local and state associations always amaze me. The award entries help spark new ideas and fuel motivational energy for other HBAs. We have a superb professional network, and it’s awesome to witness when the award winners reach out and help our colleagues successfully duplicate their efforts,” said Jay Iverson, EOC President and Executive Officer of the HBA of Iowa. “The volunteers and staff members representing the winners should be proud.”

The Parade of Playhomes is just one way the MBA provides high school students exposure to the home building industry. Each spring the MBA hosts a career day at one of the MBA Parade of Homes sites. Students tour the models under construction, meet a variety of trades and learn the day-in-the-life of each trade partner.

The 2nd Annual Parade of Playhomes will be showcased at the 2024 MBA Home Building and Remodeling EXPO January 12 – 14, 2024 at the Exposition Center at the Wisconsin State Fair Park in West Allis.

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