Looking Ahead: After helping to promote the industry’s professionalism and distinction from home building, QR saw other, larger publishing firms enter the market. The magazines’ efforts to explain the industry continues. “Everyone still looks to homebuilding as the driving force in the market,” Sauer says. “We fought that mind-set very hard, and it’s still being fought. Remodeling is a bigger market.”
Estimating for the Future
Company: Home Tech Information Systems Inc., Bethesda, Md. Years in Industry: 1959 – present
Early Years: After working for a siding company for several years, Stoeppelwerth opened his own remodeling company in 1961 and, in the mid-1960s, added a partner, Henry Reynolds. They each began a sideline, with Reynolds writing books on estimating while Stoeppelwerth began doing home inspections (in 1974, he did 1,289 inspections). Home Tech sold the inspection business in 2001 to concentrate fully on education.
Key Innovations: Stoeppelwerth has worked tirelessly to raise the industry’s level of professionalism, writing one of the first books on remodeling business management, ‘Professional Remodeling Management,’ in 1985. “I have long been known for telling remodelers that they have to mark up their work higher than they do,” he says. Today, Home Tech offers a variety of software and other teaching aids for estimating various construction activities and for other business-management areas.
When he was inducted into the NAHB Hall of Fame in 2001, the group said that “as a leading spokesperson for the remodeling industry, he has helped raise the professional standards of the sector and in doing so has done an invaluable service to the public perception and understanding of the industry.”
Looking Ahead: Stoeppelwerth expects the industry’s overwhelming fragmentation to change. “The number of remodelers doing more than $1 million in business is growing, and their work is expanding. I expect the days are numbered in which remodelers operate only one office.” Some of that will come from consolidation, in which larger companies buy smaller ones and expand their client base.
He expects more managerial-based remodelers to thrive by subcontracting much of their work, possibly through home centers, and specializing in certain types of work (basements, kitchens, dormers, etc.). And he anticipates a form of “caretaker” service for homeowners with second homes as well as long-term service contracts being offered. “The changes in the next two to three years are going to be fairly dramatic.”
Televising the Industry
Company: BVTV Inc. and BobVila.com, Boston Years in Industry: 1974 – present
Early Years: To complete his graduate studies in architecture, Vila worked with a group to rehab a brownstone. The work proved so successful that he started his own contracting business the next year and had one of his restorations profiled by Better Homes & Gardens. A newspaper article on the project was seen by a public television producer, who ultimately offered Vila the chance to host a local 13-part series on step-by-step renovation of a project. In 1979, his series, “This Old House” premiered on national PBS.
Key Innovations: After 10 years, Vila left PBS to star in “Home Again,” his own syndicated series, which continues today. He also has written 10 books, including a five-book series, “Bob Vila’s Guide to Historic Homes of America” and “Bob Vila’s Complete Guide to Remodeling Your Home.” His work introduced many TV viewers to the potential and pitfalls of home renovation, and his easy on-screen personality made him the national face of remodeling.
Vila is active with several charitable and public-service organizations, including Habitat for Humanity, for which he has completed “Home Again” projects. He also serves as spokesperson for the National Alliance to End Homelessness and is involved with several projects for the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development. In 1998, he helped launch Healthy Homes for Healthy Children, a HUD-sponsored child-protection initiative.