By Maggie Beamguard
A new president was appointed to the Seven Lakes West Landowners Association Board, effective Aug. 23. Josh Davis takes the helm from Pat Zlotin, who will continue on the board as vice president.
A Tennessee native, Davis brings to his new position 20 years of military experience, culminating in the United States Army Special Operations Command. He also worked with the Department of Energy before returning to USASOC as a government civilian. He recently switched gears to industry and works at Cisco Systems.
Married to Laura Davis for 26 years, the couple moved to Seven Lakes West in 2013 with their two boys Logan and Justin, now grown. The premiere amenity of Lake Auman, along with the people of SLW, are what Davis enjoys most about the community. He keeps his boat in the water year-round.
Davis began serving on the board in 2021, first as secretary and then as vice president. He was prompted to run while serving on the Lake Committee after noticing the difference volunteers make in improving the community.
Davis says 30 years of leadership experience have prepared him for his term as president.
“Part of being the leader is also being a good listener. You have to listen to what the community is saying,” he said.
Discord among some residents persists following the outcome this summer of a lawsuit brought by homeowners against SLWLA regarding the right to vote in board elections.
“Right now there’s still turmoil in the community,” he said. “A leader will try to listen to the community and try to bring everybody back together.”
Davis’ wide-ranging experience from active duty to government civilian to the corporate world has also prepared him to understand budgets and spending processes. Working with volunteers to maximize contributions without wasting their time and energy is also a challenge for any leader, Davis said.
Davis is focused for now on the community’s growth.
“We’re averaging 40 to 50 new homes a year. We’re expecting full build-out probably in nine to 11 years, depending on lot combinations and other factors,” Davis said. “I think the growth means we need to grow the amenities. It means we need to grow the revenue that we need to to continue to pay for the amenities.”
Growth also plays a factor in the way the community will need to be managed, according to Davis.
“We’re starting to have this turn that I see coming where you’re going to have more of a professional staff running part of these committees.”
Davis sees a potential role for professional staff in running operation-based committees such as the Architectural Review Committee, Infrastructure, Lake and Dam, Safety and Security and even Finance.
A younger demographic of full-time working professionals with limited time to give back to the community is also part of the community’s evolution.
“There will still be volunteers, but it’s not going to be as many as it is now,” Davis said.
The biggest challenge Davis believes the community faces is generating revenues during a period of high inflation.
“If you don’t raise the dues at an 8.5 percent average, you’re losing revenue. You have to have that input into revenue so that you can output a number that you can say: ‘Here’s what we’re going to do for roads. Here’s what we’re going to do for the lake. Here’s what we’re gonna do for the dam.’”
A series of town halls have been planned to communicate the budgeting process and revenue challenges the community faces and to get feedback. The board held its second one in August and a third is scheduled for November.
“We did our second one, and it was a little rocky. But we started getting people to listen and understand,” Davis said. “And now for the third one, we’re hopefully going to have a good 85 percent solution for the budget we can present. Then based on the feedback, we’re going to go in and sharpen that pencil more. The board’s going to have to make the decision of where those cuts are going to come from to get to that 100 percent.”
When it comes to making decisions, Davis is guided by the motto “choose the hard right over the easy wrong.”
“In order to do that, you have to know the direction you’re wanting to go. You’ve got to set a course.” In the military, he says they set an azimuth due East. “Now I may go southeast. I may go northeast. Or I may bounce back and forth, but the direction we’re going is East.”
Due East, from the board’s perspective, is the development of a 3-5 year budget so people can see the expected growth.
“People can plan for that and see where their money is going. So there’s no special assessments, and there’s no ‘Aha! Gotchas.’”
Davis is eager to move forward as a community and will be focused on two priorities.
“One is to keep property values up. That’s number one. Number two is to keep water in that hole, i.e. the lake and to continue to make SLW a premier community where people want to live.”
Contact Maggie Beamguard at firstname.lastname@example.org.