Like a proud parent, association management company The Valisade Group sent its sole client, Construction Owners Association of America, out on its own this year. It was a bittersweet moment for Lisa DeGolyer and Valerie Delaney, Valisade’s partners since 2009, who are moving on without their next client in place.
“We feel like it’s ‘mission accomplished,’” says DeGolyer, who began working with COAA in 2003.
Back then, the association was struggling to attract members and was “budgeted to lose money it didn’t have,” she recalls. Six weeks prior to one of COAA’s two annual events, its executive director resigned. DeGolyer took over despite being scheduled to run an event for a different client in Acapulco, Mexico, a week later.
Now the association has grown from having two national conferences to about 40 events, including chapter gatherings and educational training seminars. The major events have gone from about 100 attendees to between 250 and 300, a boutique size allowing for intimate discussions.
Valisade built COAA’s infrastructure—from spreadsheets to office space—from the ground up. Now, the association is ready to go it alone, effective Jan. 1, 2017, DeGolyer and Delaney agree. The timing seemed right with the naming of a new executive director by COAA’s board of directors. “It was going to be complicated,” says DeGolyer. “We felt it was fair to let them do what they wanted to do and bow out.
“[The board] didn’t want us to leave; they were shocked. But they have come to accept it.”