Our first 30 years covering the remodeling industry, from 1975 to the present, has been marked by continual change and improvement, for remodelers and for the remodeling public. Over 30 years, associations have blossomed and grown, pushing industry education and standards ever higher. Manufacturers and distributors have spurred the growth in remodeling with new and better products.
Over 30 years, industry professionals have improved the way we estimate, the way we design and the way we interface with clients. According to the people who know best — remodelers — the following 15 people have had a major impact on the industy.
Editor’s Note: As part of our 30th Anniversary issue, we present to you our list of industry innovators as compiled and written by QR’s longtime editorial director, Craig A. Shutt. Following our list of Innovators, we look at the events, milestones, and innovations that shaped the remodeling industry, beginning on page 42.
Lastly, we present to you the top-line results of our 30th Anniversary research project. More than 700 recent remodeling customers rated their experiences. The results show that communication, cleanliness and timeliness are among the differences between the best remodelers and those who tend to give the industry a bad reputation.
Teaching New Lessons
Company: Asdal Builders LLC, Chester, N.J. Years in Industry: 1976 – present
Early Years: After gaining an undergraduate degree in industrial education and a master’s degree in school administration, Asdal worked as a shop teacher and then spent six years as a licensed principal while moonlighting as a carpenter. He formed Asdal Builders to do carpentry work in 1976 and two years later left schoolrooms behind when an opportunity arose to build a home. “I went from building birdhouses to real houses,” he says.
Key Innovations: While a shop teacher, Asdal took the month’s best student to the local association meeting. “I always have looked at trade associations, media and professional-development opportunities as resources to become more successful. As I became more involved, I looked for holes in programs where I could add value for others.” Asdal has worked with the Partnership for Advanced Technologies in Housing (PATH), USDA’s Forest Service Products Laboratory, the U.S. Department of Energy, the Graduate School of Urban Planning and the Environmental & Energy Building Association as well as with local and national associations.
A key initiative has been his work to rehab the New Jersey building code, which led to its incorporation into the Nationally Applicable Recommended Rehabilitation Provisions (NAARP), a model code for renovation. “We proved we could produce 22 percent savings with a code specific to remodeling work.”
Looking Ahead: “I believe the innovations this industry has achieved to date will pale beside those that are coming.” That results primarily from the sophistication of remodelers and their recognition in the market. “In the next decade, we’ll see continued development of professionalism and have more people work on their businesses rather than just in their businesses.” He also expects more results from benchmarking activities, with technology providing delivery media that make information universally and readily accessible at low cost. “These systems are out there, and they’re coming our way.”
Quantifying the Industry
Company: Cahners Publishing, Boston; Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, Cambridge, Mass. Years in Industry: 1985 – present
Early Years: Baker spent several years at the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies while working toward his doctorate degree at MIT and then was in residence doing post-doctoral work. In 1985, he joined the economics department at Cahners Publishing in Boston. On his first day, he was asked to write a column for Building Supply Home Centers magazine on the D-I-Y market’s changing demographics.