One of my favorite aspects of my job is the opportunity to talk to the people who drive this industry. It helps me determine what you, the readers, want to see in the magazine (and online). This year’s Remodeling Show offered me another opportunity to do just that. Not only did I take time to chat with those people I’ve gotten to know during my 13 months as editor of QR, but I also met plenty of new people who shared great insights and predictions about remodeling in 2012. I’m happy to report most, if not all, of the people I spoke with during the Remodeling Show expect 2012 to be a good year for remodeling. One of my favorite predictions came from Mike Pierce, president of Hughes Kitchens & Bath, Canton, Ohio, no. 469 on this year’s Top 500. Pierce expects his business to grow in 2012 and is preparing for a busy spring. I asked what his secret is and he mentioned his son who graduated from college with a business degree has helped the business change for the better. Pierce’s business became a class project for a business administration course his son took, and a lot of the ideas that came out of that have stuck. In Pierce’s case it certainly seems that new ideas and adapting to a changing world are the keys to success. I’ll be tapping into Pierce and other innovative remodelers to provide creative marketing and business ideas for you to adapt for your own needs in the coming months.
I was eagerly anticipating attending my first Remodeling Show after having been on staff at Qualified Remodeler for almost four months. As interesting as it was to be introduced to new products in the remodeling and deck markets, the most memorable experience of the week for me was meeting industry experts and developing relationships. QR hosted an event on the eve of the show to honor the companies on our Top 500 list and this year’s Master Design Award winners. One of the highlights of the event was hearing Peter Pfeiffer, FAIA, speak about sustainable building. He presented a particularly unique concept of an inverted pyramid, illustrating that small changes can have a large affect while big changes aren’t nearly as effective unless they are built upon a solid base. For example, using no-VOC paint and installing hardwood floors can have a large effect on the well-being of the occupants because it eliminates allergens and other toxins that make people sick. Other design elements, such as a garage, must be considered, too, according to Pfeiffer. He said that making attached garages was one of the worst design trends because of the toxins it introduces into a house from the cars that detached garages avoided. These seemingly small things make a huge difference.
The show itself struck me as optimistic. I came here from the commercial building industry, where things also are bad and where that has been a common sentiment at events. Although nobody gushed to me at the Remodeling Show about their overwhelming work load and manufacturers didn’t say they had floods of requests for orders, almost everybody told me they were getting by alright and finding new ways to work. And they said it with a smile on their face. Yes, everyone agreed things are bad, but rather than dwelling about it they attend events such as the Remodeling Show and DeckExpo to meet others in the industry, learn about new products and get inspired by their peers. Manufacturers whom I spoke with weren’t overwhelmed with the numbers of visitors to their booths, but they were pleased with the quality of those visits. Numerous people told me they didn’t mind a smaller crowd when that crowd was enthusiastic and genuinely interested in what was on display.
One of the most curious products at the recent Remodeling Show at Chicago’s McCormick Place was WildSide Camo Siding from Style Crest. We say “curious” because we’re pretty sure the product isn’t intended for suburban ranch homes, but rather for the more specialized market of duck blinds and hunting lodges. The product may not play in suburbia, but that may be the point: Building materials manufacturers are looking for additional niche markets in which to market products. Perhaps not so curious after all. Is this is a trend? It’s worth watching.
Likewise, DAP introduced at the show The Spec Line by DAP, a full line of sealants and adhesives designed for industry professionals, recognizing the importance of that market segment. The products have as a prominent part of their names numeric descriptions that match industry specifications, making it easier for remodelers and contractors to select the right product.
Both the Camo Siding the The Spec Line by DAP are new products, but both also represent a fine tuning of marketing efforts to a specific niche. Stay tuned.
Also worth noting is the co-location of the DeckExpo with the Remodeling Show. This isn’t the first year for the combined expo, of course, but the number of deck products and accessories on display confirms that manufacturers of products are betting the market for outdoor living products will continue to thrive and that remodelers will play a big part in it.
And it’s not just your father’s deck any longer. A number of manufacturers have introduced LED lighting accessories, some of them solar powered, to their offerings. Eye-catching patterns, judging from the displays, are replacing plain parallel deck boards. Traditional wood is facing stiff completion; composite decking materials were in abundance, all of them asserting their environmental friendliness and durability. Consumers, it’s obvious, have more choices than ever, and it’s going to be up to remodelers who specify decks to guide them.
And, of course, for those looking for a little diversion, Simpson Strong-Tie was on hand with their renowned collapsing deck, a guaranteed-to-fall-down crowd pleaser from previous shows, that convincingly demonstrates the perils of improper deck construction and fastening.