The world is changing more rapidly than ever before and even design/build companies that don’t keep pace will be left behind. Everyone knows that IBM failed to foresee the personal computing revolution and watched as its share price plunged by 77 percent at a time when most technology stocks quadrupled in value.
Clearly, in our industry (like every other) it is important to keep current with the trends. But how do you do so when things are changing so fast ? and when it seems like you’re drowning in a sea of information. This is where being involved with a professional organization comes into play. By being active in any organization increases your probability of meeting someone who can provide you with that information.
Be a professional
I was recently asked to be a judge for one of the national remodeling award competitions. I enjoy participating in the judging process: It allows me to renew old friendships and make new ones with colleagues from all over the country.
During lunch on the first day, Alex Dahlgren of Acheron Construction in Dallas told a story in which he referred to himself as a “professional remodeler,” not just a remodeler. Initially I was taken back by what he said. He used the words “professional remodeler” to describe what he did for a living. After processing his intended message, I could not have expressed what we do for a living more accurately. He equated what he did, his profession, the same way a lawyer or accountant might.
As “professional remodelers,” it is our responsibility to understand, coordinate and orchestrate the entire design/build process from the initial client contact until the client occupies those spaces we have transformed. This requires knowledge of every step of the process. To know and understand this process is what makes us the “professional.” Sometimes we’re not quite sure how to handle a situation, client, or trade contractor. Fortunately, there are thousands of us who have been there, done that, and thankfully, are willing to share our knowledge and past experiences with our colleagues.
Networking is essential
Although I have been practicing architecture for more than 34 years and specializing in residential design/build for at least half that time, every time I get together with other professional remodelers, I find myself walking away with additional knowledge that I can implement in our business. The challenges our business brings are, at times, daunting. The opportunity to learn from someone else’s trials and tribulations has value beyond measure. Most professional remodelers are willing to share their experiences with you. All you have to do is ask. Their wealth of knowledge ranges from office management to framing an eyebrow dormer and everything in between.
I don’t know how to describe it, and it is not my intent to sound Polyanna-ish, but the words “brotherhood or sisterhood” come to mind. This vast wealth of knowledge is available to anyone. I think we are lucky to be part of an industry where its practitioners are willing to share their challenges, successes and failures, and overall experiences with others. I’ve met people who share this passion all over the United States, Canada and Europe. It is infectious, so if you get bit, pass it on!