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Jonathan Sweet is the editor in chief of Professional Remodeler, an award-winning trade publication for remodelers and home improvement contractors. He started his career covering homes and small businesses at a daily newspaper and has spent more than a decade writing for several construction trade publications including Qualified Remodeler, Construction Pro and Concrete Contractor+Jonathan Sweet

Time for remodelers to innovate is now

August 03, 2011

During the housing boom, new products were being introduced into the home building market at a staggering rate.
According to the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies (and oft-repeated by our columnist Mark Richardson), in a recent three-year period there were more products introduced than in the previous 100 years for the home building industry.
We’ve seen great innovations in efficiency, design and technology, to name just a few areas, over that time. While some companies have pulled back, the good news is that many manufacturers continue to invest heavily in product research and development.
There’s no better example of that than our annual gathering of the 101 Best New Products. These are the products that stand out from the crowd that has been introduced over the last year.
When we were selecting the products to feature this year, we looked for those that offered something new and interesting to the industry, for those products that answered an unmet need or advanced their specific category. A new feature of this year’s 101 Best New Products is a note on each product telling you exactly why we chose it for the 2011 list.
Not surprisingly, you’ll see products that make advancements in the field of energy efficiency and sustainability, as well as those that introduce new or improved technology. At the same time, some products stand out simply because they make life simpler, either for the homeowner because of ease of use or for you and your crews because of saved time in installation.
Whatever it is that makes the specific product worth honoring, the most important thing these companies all have in common is that they continue to innovate even when the “safe” thing to do, as all too many companies have in our industry and others, is to just hunker down and wait for the storm to pass.
It’d be easy to do. The indicators for the industry are not good, to put it kindly. On the plus side, we appear to be bouncing along the bottom (when did flat become good?) and hardly anybody is calling for anymore big declines.
Despite all that, we know the future demand is going to be there. The economy will recover and people will need places to live. Smart companies are grabbing market share now and will reap the benefits when the recovery comes. It’s a pattern that repeats in every recession.
The best companies are making the changes they need to move forward in the new remodeling market, investing in technology and new marketing techniques where it makes sense.
It’s a lesson that remodelers would do well to take note of — the time for waiting is over.

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