Celebrating 50 Years of Excellence: Chuck Shinn's Contributions to Home Building

15, Feb 2019

By Emmy Wildermuth

Emma Suarez sat in a seminar-style class room, looking around at all of her future potential competition, when out of the corner of her eye, she noticed a tall, devilishly handsome man sitting in the seat diagonally across from her own. Slowly, she turned her gaze to meet his. Their eyes locked for a brief moment, broken only by the instructor calling the class to attention. Blinking rapidly, she turned her focus toward the discussion centered around policy formulation. 

All around her, Emma’s male classmates babbled endlessly, contributing comments of great length — but little substance — to the discussion. As the room filled with seemingly pointless banter, Emma found her thoughts drifting away from what her peers were saying. Suddenly, a deep voice commanded her attention. 

It was the young man she had noticed before. When he spoke, he conducted his words with such intellect, finesse, and authority that  she couldn’t help but listen to what he had to say. She had an overwhelming need to know this man. His intelligent mind attracted her to him in a way that appearance could never have done.

Unbeknownst to her, this initial attraction would spark the growth of a powerful partnership, both in marriage and business. The Shinns have always pushed one another toward excellence and continue to do so year after year. 2018 marked Chuck Shinn’s 50th year in home building. Throughout this time, Chuck has accumulated a lengthy list of accomplishments, awards, and endless contributions to the advancement of the industry as a whole.

At the start of his career, Chuck couldn’t have ever imagined becoming such an important presence in the field of home building. According to his wife and business partner, Emma Shinn, his vision for the future was something entirely different. 

The world was in turmoil at the time of Chuck’s first serious job hunt as the Vietnam War was in full swing. Despite his academic accomplishments, including both a BA in economics and an MBA in international business, Chuck was unable to find a company willing to hire him because he was at risk of being chosen for the draft. The future was looking bleak until Chuck was approached with an offer he could not refuse. 

Chuck took on the position of assistant director of economics for NAHB under 
Mike Sumichrast, then Director of Economics, and immediately began to thrive. He began by  conducting the first NAHB builder membership operational study. Monthly, he published the “Economic News Note” newsletter and the “House Starts Bulletin.” He traveled the country as a keynote speaker on the status of the local and national housing market for the local HBAs’ monthly membership meetings. Mike became his mentor and the driving force for him to enroll in the PhD program at American University. This was the environment where he discovered his love for the industry. 

Additionally, he worked with Emma to publish the Accounting System for Home Builders in which they created a more organized and codified way for builders to manage their financial affairs. Once a uniform chart of accounts was established for the industry, it became possible for him to conduct the first Cost of Doing Business Study for the industry in 1973.

From the Economics Department, he was promoted to Director of Business Management, where he worked to develop and offer many management and operational seminars to guide the builders on how to manage their businesses and improve their profitability.

His success was quickly recognized by the University of Denver and in 1975, Chuck’s path was altered yet again, leading him into the world of education. 

This portion of Chuck’s career yielded abundant contributions to the educational aspect of the home building industry. While teaching, he worked to develop an MBA program for the Real Estate and Construction Management Department. He also got the approval for the department to be elevated to a School.

In addition, Chuck organized a student internship program that helps place students with local builders and gives graduating students the materials, information, and networking they need to succeed in the field. He worked ceaselessly to recruit funds for student scholarships and support programs, such as the formal creation and acceptance by NAHB of student chapters.

In 1976, he also began working as a consultant to technology companies starting to develop specialized software for home building. His influential relationship with the software development companies continues to this day.

Now on the outside of the NAHB staff, he became an active member of the association, chairing and participating in multiple committees, including the executive committee and co-chair of the manufacturing council. He was responsible for creating the four single-family committees to enhance the focus of the association on the single-family members. He served as national representative for Colorado and area vice president for Area 13. Currently, he is a Senior Life Director.

Chuck continued to educate future leaders in the field through his membership in NAHB by developing and presenting numerous national seminars and training programs. Specifically, he worked with the Native American Apprenticeship Program, which offered training and mentorship for Native Americans across the United States.

With years of experience under his belt, Chuck started his own home building, educational, and consulting organizations. Chuck’s successful entrepreneurship granted him a platform to continue his work educating and inspiring home builders across the nation.

As a builder, he was president of the Home Builders Association of Metro Denver in 1988 and was recognized as Builder of the Year (1985) and Industry Man of the Year (1987).

Today, Chuck continues to share his wisdom about the home building industry through seminars, workshops, networking, and management training. He has inspired many home builders and assisted in their companies’ profitability and success.

In addition to sharing his knowledge about home building at major conferences such as the International Builders’ Show, Chuck is constantly offering advice through emails and conversation. He desires to see his clients and friends in the industry succeed, and is willing to do anything he can to help them in doing so.

Chuck Shinn is among the most impactful influencers in the home building industry. His intelligence – the same intelligence that drew Emma to him all those years ago – has and continues to greatly benefit builders across the country. Chuck always says, “Our builders are a hard-working, dedicated, and remarkable group of people. Their success is our reward.”

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