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James McClister is managing editor for Professional Remodeler.

5 Things To Take With Us

A look back at what the industry has learned in 2020. 

December 09, 2020
locking back rear view mirror 2020

By Miguel Angel Partido | Adobe Stock

Jokes about how stressful 2020 has been are so tired they reached cliché-hood about six months back (i.e., 2,000 days into the year). But of course, it has been stressful. I myself had coronavirus just a couple weeks prior to writing this, as though the year had to make sure I’d remember it. Mission accomplished. 

Still, tumultuous as the last 12 months have been, 2020 had its gifts, and I think it’s important we remember them.

1. The first three months of the year

Don’t forget, we had a full quarter of somewhat normalcy this year. Between January and March we had Super Bowl LIV, where the Chiefs scored 21 points in the fourth quarter in a come-from-behind victory over the 49ers; masterpiece Parasite became the first non-English language film to win the Oscar for “Best Picture”; a kajillion good albums were released, including the posthumously released “Circles” from Mac Miller; we had an in-person International Builders Show that was a true bounty of innovative products, informative workshops, and unparalleled networking; and overall the remodeling industry grew at a rate of over 3%, according to the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. It was all pretty good. 

2. What it means to be prepared

By March 23, just a few days after California issued the first mandatory shelter-in-place order, a survey from The Farnsworth Group showed that already 63% of remodelers were concerned about paying their bills. A month later nearly 90% were reporting delays as a result of COVID-19. Businesses of all ilk and industry were forced into tough positions, but in a lot of ways the pressure reshaped companies for the better. Remodelers were challenged to become leaner, and more efficient. They were forced to make cuts—some were forced to make layoffs and furloughs while others were forced into closure. We learned lessons this year about the importance of shoring up financing with your banks before a disaster, and how scaling plans can dramatically increase reaction time to market shifts. These lessons may have been hard taught, but they won’t be easily forgotten. 

3. What it means to be safe and healthy

A lot of remodelers adopted stringent health guidelines to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID this year, like limiting the number of people allowed in a workspace, requiring masks, increasing handwashing and sanitizing. A lot of these guidelines may eventually ease with the future introduction of a vaccine, but what won’t is the newer, greater understanding of health, especially as it pertains to our staff. Additionally, many remodelers have leveraged their new guidelines as a means to put homeowners at ease (and to reinforce professionalism). Anecdotally, my conversations with remodelers suggest it is working to the point of becoming standard. 

Whatever your emotions so far as they relate to your home, they’re certainly more pronounced than they were in 2019

4. Never has the home meant more

Maybe “meaning more” means absolute resentment, but whatever your emotions so far as they relate to your home, they’re certainly more pronounced than they were in 2019—when the home was more a place to keep your stuff and sleep than it was the only place you were allowed to go. Even if you didn’t work from home, you certainly spent more nights and weekends indoors. Financial website Mint reported that while monthly spending on entertainment has decreased by 22% this year, spending on the home has increased by 9% (and no surprise but spending on pets increased by 23%). This all spells opportunity for remodelers. 

5. There is an end

Finally, if closing out this year has taught us anything, it’s that as bad as things may get nothing is forever. Keep looking forward. 



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