Let's Make a Deal

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Students in home building courses learn to deal with product manufacturers.

June 01, 1999

Bob Stadtlander, instructor for a building course through the Iowa City Community High School District in Iowa City, Iowa, involves his students in the process of obtaining bids from local dealers. The process not only educates his students in the business aspects of construction but also enables him to obtain discounts from local distributors.

"The students go in and look at different bids, and we decide what’s really feasible with the house," says Stadtlander. "We don’t buy the cheapest, we buy what’s practical with the house." Students must weigh the pros and cons of each product and decide if it’s worthwhile to pay extra for something a little better. According to Stadtlander, the students quickly develop a talent for buying a mix of practical items and upscale items. "They get a lot of good ideas about what things are on the market, and then they can weigh the cost of it," he says.

Andy Knebel, estimator for Knebel Windows in Iowa City, went out of his way to approach the school with a proposal. "I’d always known about the program, and one day I approached [the instructor] about supplying some of their building materials," he says. Knebel gave the school a discount on his window and door products to show his support of the building courses. "I think it’s important to develop tomorrow’s work force," he says. "If you’ve got kids interested in the trades, then it’s important to support them in whatever they’re interested in."

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