Twenty years ago, Charlyce Ruth went for a job interview and found a career.
“At the time, I had heard of the Home Builders Association but had absolutely no idea what they did. I was offered the position and decided it sounded like a good job,” she says. “Two years later, I discovered that it wasn’t just a job. I had found a career with a company that made a difference in my community.”
Two decades later, that accounting position at HBA of Greater Springfield started Ruth through the ranks until she became the organization’s CEO in 2014. And even though she’s at the top, what matters more to her is what gets done.
“My goal has never been to hold a specific title,” Ruth says. “Instead, I put all of my effort into doing the absolute best job that I can possibly do, whether it be job-related or volunteer-related. Observing leaders I have worked with over time, I realized that the most important leadership skills are having a passion for what you do, assembling a team that you trust and listening.”
She understands the importance of teamwork and knowing when it’s time to step forward or move back.
“Your team is of critical importance. No one can do everything,” Ruth says. “At the HBA, I am fortunate to work with a dedicated team of paid personnel and volunteer leaders. One of the challenges is learning to work with changing volunteer leadership every year, but everyone has the same goal – to promote HBA members and to advocate on behalf of the construction industry.”
She considers the ability to listen a key component of leadership.
“Listening is how we truly learn what the true issues are and how we can work together to make a difference,” Ruth says. “I attribute my ability to connect with members to my listening skills. It is my goal to concentrate on what I hear and file the information away so I can ask follow-up questions about their businesses and their families the next time I see them.”
Finding skilled employees in construction is one of the biggest issues hindering growth in the industry, partly due to the many people who left during the Great Recession. A multigroup partnership that includes HBA-created Build My Future, a one-day interactive construction career day that promotes opportunities.
“I was able to step forward and offer to act as the fiscal agent for Build My Future through the HBA Charitable Foundation,” Ruth says. “Over the past three years, my involvement has grown.”
She has helped other communities start their own Build My Future events, which have spread to seven other states.
Ruth is the incoming treasurer of the National Association of Women in Construction and serves as the HBA staff liaison for the Springfield Good Government Committee that recruits candidates to run for City Council. She also serves on the board of directors for the National Association of Home Builders Executive Officers Council.
“I was taught at an early age that the only way you can improve your community is to be involved,” she says.
A project that is now hitting its stride on the west side of Bolivar includes a retail strip and storage units.