Posted on August 13, 2012 by Mike Means

Dusty Riggs of Sequoyah County Home Builders
Association with his wife Shelia.

By Carol Hartzog, For OSHBA

Dusty Riggs brought a great deal of enthusiasm to the state convention at Chateau on the Lake near Branson. He also brought a view that most in the state don't see.

As president of the very-young Sequoyah County Home Builders Association, he only has eight members - four builders and four associates. He also can attest to the down market, much more "down" than you think.

We should all be grateful.

"The challenge is economics. People just don't have money, jobs, credit and financial education. They don't' know how to balance a checkbook," he said of his rural setting in extreme eastern Oklahoma, on the Arkansas border.

"We need more people in trades, be it nursing, welding, machine-shop trades, mechanics. People aren't making money, and they can't buy or build a house.

"People building their own houses don't know what they are doing, or are not building up to code. People are wiring their own house, which can be dangerous, and then there are the realities of insurance."

Riggs of Sallisaw attended his first summer convention this year. He has been building since 2004 and owns Fortnight Construction. Prior to home building, he built limousines for nine years in Fort Smith.

The home builders in Sequoyah County are all hurting financially, but most of them are still working, he said. He hasn't built a home in three years, but his car-wash business and rental property keep him busy. Prior to the downturn, he built three homes a year on average. "You can get by on that."

However, the economy is looking up, ever so slightly. He has bid on two homes thus far this year. He lost them both. However, he has a bright outlook.

"We usually lag behind. We were behind in the slowdown. Hopefully, things will start picking up in rest of state.

"It's easy to get discouraged, and negative in an environment like this," he said, "but being around so many positive people (at the convention), not just motivational people, just all the builders, it's encouraging.

"It's not the end of the world. It's lean times, and that's when you find out who you are and you reassess your business. It's easy to bloat your budget, and lean times make you really look at that -- how can you save money here or there."

Riggs was glad he came.

Put the state convention on your calendar next year. You too will be encouraged. And that's worth your time, and your money.

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