On “Iowa Nice,” Wind Chill, and Aging in Place

Posted on in VGM Live at Home

By Jim Greatorex, Vice President, AHIA

At the end of last year, I was honored to be asked by VGM to become the vice president of Accessible Home Improvement of America (AHIA).

To accept the new role meant leaving my job that I loved in VGM Retail, pulling up stakes in Maine, and moving to Iowa! The opportunity to work “in the building” and being asked to lead AHIA was too good an offer for me to decline. Just having gotten remarried last summer, having my wife Lisa agree to follow me from Maine to Iowa of all places would be an entirely different story, wouldn’t you think?

Fortunately, Lisa had gotten to know some VGM colleagues and their spouses at prior events before and after I starting working at VGM, so she had made some friends. We traveled to Iowa in December, and even though it was snowing and cold there, there was just something about the area that seemed like it was calling to us. So, just like the Clampetts, we packed up our stuff and moved to Waterloo (not Beverly Hills).

How ‘bout that Wind Chill?

Trading unbelievable seafood for unbelievable pork and beef (and of course corn), has taken an adjustment. The first two words you learn in Iowa when you move here are “wind chill.” We’ve been here two months, and we are still waiting for the wind to stop blowing! It blows so hard at times that it causes vibration at our house that sounds like whales. I tell Lisa that the whales have followed her here from Maine.

Beyond the wind chill, Iowa has a lot going for it. The economy is doing okay, and locally, the Cedar Valley area is growing and modernizing. But, the big thing that has really stood out about this state are the great people! “Iowa nice” is not a myth; it is a genuine interest in community, neighbors, and co-workers. The warm welcome we got here, both at home and at work, has been off the charts! Ethics, kindness, and social fun inclusion is a way of life here, and it’s pretty awesome to see and witness it first-hand. When you really think about it, being around people you trust, really like, and socialize with makes any environment home.

Am Here to Help YOU

This same sense of community and Golden Rule ethic permeates here at VGM and more specifically to AHIA members. My job here is to help you grow your business in the “aging in place” home modification business climate.

We have lots of great stuff in store for this year, and we will let you know about them through this monthly email blast. We will keep you informed of all the benefits of AHIA membership and upcoming events like our Heartland Conference coming in June.

So, after two months, here is my brief “Big Picture” view of the industry. The business climate is like the “wild west” where almost anything goes, and we need to professionalize ourselves in order to be recognized and sold as a solution and a trusted source. The demographics for “aging in place” shows that demand for our products will grow by double digits. Starting three years from now, there will be more people over the age of 75 than we have ever seen. This “longevity revolution” will continue for the next 30 years. It is a societal problem that we need to have safe housing for this group that they can safely live and thrive in. For every new safe senior home built, there will be 100 existing homes that will need safety modifications and the infrastructure to address the supply that currently does not exist either in the US or Canada.    

I am looking forward to working with you to address this evolving opportunity and be the trusted solution our country and seniors need. I am inviting you to come along with us where together we can build a kick-butt “aging in place” industry !