SNHBA names Tina Frias as CEO

The Southern Nevada Home Builders Association has named Tina Frias, the most recent senior director of aviation at Harry Reid International Airport, as its new CEO.

The 38-year-old Frias fills a position left vacant in October when longtime CEO Nat Hodgson passed away. She assumed the position earlier this month.

The 71-year-old SNHBA, a trade organization of 500 members representing the residential construction industry, said its hiring of the long-time community leader came after a stringent vetting of top officials throughout Southern Nevada and beyond.

“I’m so excited to be in this role,” Frias said. “It’s such a dynamic and important industry to our economy. The people I have met and worked with in the short time I’ve been here have been absolutely phenomenal.”

While Frias doesn’t have a background in the homebuilding industry, that wasn’t a prerequisite for the position whose duties include working with local government officials and state lawmakers on legislation, regulation and administration that impacts the homebuilding industry.

The UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law graduate has served as legal policy analyst within the Nevada Legislature, guiding policy efforts related to taxation, health care, gaming and energy. She has also regularly collaborated with the Legislative Counsel Bureau to develop bill drafts and amendments.

Frias has nearly two decades of experience spanning management, law and politics working on campaigns and for the late Nevada Sen. Harry Reid in Washington D.C.

Prior to joining SNHBA, Frias worked for the Clark County Department of Aviation for more than 10 years, including the last two years as senior director of aviation overseeing government affairs efforts. Within this role, she advocated for federal, state and local policies. She also led executive oversight of recruitments, labor relations, employee engagement and culture.

In announcing the hire, SNHBA President Carlos Zuluaga said Frias has represented Clark County and its diverse communities on a variety of boards and has an extensive knowledge, like few others, of major policy impacting the state.

“Tina Frias is a pillar of authority, wisdom and education in Southern Nevada who will be such an asset to our organization and the broader industry,” Zuluaga said. “Her strengths mesh perfectly with SNHBA’s broader goals, which ultimately equate to growing our local economy and bringing new housing to life efficiently and sustainably.”

Frias said she was happy with her job at the airport and that people who worked in the homebuilding industry reached out to her about the opening. After looking at the role and its responsibilities, Frias said she thought it was the right fit for her.

In her executive role at the airport, she oversaw business administration — government relations, human resources, risk management, procurement, construction and bid processes, diversity program, legal services, records and strategic planning.

“One of the pieces the executive board was interested in was executive management so in addition to the government relations side of the shop, it was important to understand how to run an association,” said Frias, who said she had a strong background in the functions of running what amounts to a business. She oversaw more than 100 employees at the airport.

“I also have a very strong relationship with our local elected officials and being able to work with our elected officials and government officials and partners in a manner that’s well-accepted and that I’m going to collaborate with the key stakeholders.”

Frias said she has some “big shoes to fill” for someone who is new to the homebuilding industry and has a lot to learn but that her core skillset transfers well when it comes to executive leadership and government relations. She said he hopes to bring a new perspective to the industry.

“Sometimes, when you’re working in an area (and) you have dealt with issues over the years — and when someone comes in and brings a new and fresh perspective. I might see something that wouldn’t have been thought that way had I been entrenched in the industry for years,” Frias said.

Frias said she hadn’t met Hodgson and admitted she has “some big shoes to fill” and hears all the stories from those who knew him and all the great things they say. She said she learned about his great rapport and relationships.

“Even though he’s not here to tell me this, one of the things I am learning from him is how important those relationships were because it helped him and the association to be successful,” Frias said. “I know I’m not going to be him. He had such a tremendous career in homebuilding and wealth of knowledge. That’s just not the background I have, but I am confident I will be able to come in and provide the leadership. We have a great resource of people and homebuilders here that provide me great support. I need to learn from them and lead like Tina leads – be different but in the best interests of my board and industry as a whole.”

The goal is to work to ensure the success and viability of the industry. When it comes to dealing with Carson City, she will work with lawmakers and staff on legislation that’s beneficial to builders and educating them about the impact of laws on housing prices.

On the local level, Frias said she wants to maintain a strong relationship with officials because they oversee many of the departments that are impacting the industry, whether it’s the building department, comprehensive planning and the land-use process.

There’s also work at the federal level since builders have concerns about the availability of land that needs to be made accessible by Congress, Frias said. Their group will continue an ongoing push for a federal lands bill to make more government land available for development since builders will run out of inventory within a decade, she said.

“It’s such a critical time for our industry because you have interest rates that are different from three years ago,” Frias said. “You have a number of people sitting in an existing home that have an interest rate below 4 percent and not as likely to sell or move. It’s even more important to have available land for our builders because that means folks looking for a new home and folks moving to Southern Nevada are going to be looking more to builders. Builders are so important to our economy because we need those homes to be consistent with the level of growth coming to Southern Nevada.”

Another way to help with affordability is to make sure regulations put on builders are those that make sense and do not unnecessarily increase the cost of the home, Frias said.

The SNHBA is tackling a shortage of labor as those in the industry retire, which continues to be an ongoing problem for builders. Frias said she’s proud of the high school trade school established with the help of the SNHBA to encourage kids to enter the profession.

There’s other issues to address as well, and Frias said her first duty in taking over the job is to learn.

“I want to make sure I make informed decisions in my leadership and not jump to changes,” Frias said. “One of the items I am looking to work on is developing a comprehensive strategic plan and looking at the overall goals of the association and industry. I want to ensure our members and my board are having coordinated input to make sure (that,) I, being new to the industry, (am) going in the direction they want.”

A Palm Springs native, Frias, the first in her family to graduate from college, is the daughter of Harvey and Sharon Mims, who owned a janitorial business. As a middle school student Frias worked in the family business and learned from them that by working hard and believing in yourself you could accomplish anything.

Frias joins an industry that, while it has women-led homebuilding divisions in Las Vegas, is known to be male-dominated. She said there’s still people that may not be as comfortable with a woman in this type of leadership role, however, the executive board and people she has worked with have been welcoming and supportive of her.

“At the end of the day, while it may be different for some folks who are not as used to women in these leadership roles, it really comes down to the work you produce and positive changes you make,” Frias said. “I come from aviation, which is a very male-dominated industry as well. What I have learned over time is that when you come to the table and put in the work and have some offer that’s beneficial, 99.9 percent of the time they’re going to respect and value that. It’s not just thinking that I should be here because I’m a woman but being here and doing the work and getting it done. I’m also a woman and I do it well.”

Frias and her husband, Damian, have two sons, David, 8, and Johnnie, who will turn 4 in April. Damian works in management with Wells Fargo.

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