|Jan Williams, CGR, 2000 Chairman, NAHB Remodelors Council
What is it about the $140 billion-a-year remodeling industry that keeps it from being acknowledged as a premier business? The Remodeling Futures Program of Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies tells us that 800,000 firms participate in remodeling but can’t be identified under one name as home builders, multifamily builders and land developers can because the industry is so fragmented.
Remodeling can mean remodeling, rebuilding, restoring, renovating and remaking. Remodeling firms can run the gamut from specializing in historic home renovation and restoration to window replacements. Remodeling businesses can include a company that does remodeling only or one where remodeling is only a part of the total business. A firm may mean one person with annual sales of $150,000 or a large company with yearly revenue of $20 million. It’s a field that has no entry exams, no prescribed courses and no special degree programs. It’s easy to enter, easy to get out, and statistics tell us that the failure rate is more than 50% during the first five years of business.
As businesspeople, how can we deal with a fragmented and diversified industry? And let’s think about the word “diversity” and how that affects remodelers. The dictionary says that diversity is “different, various ways.” We need to think of the changing population mix, the erratic marketplace, the uncertainties of product delivery, the limited labor pool, the likes and dislikes of different regions in our country, the lightning technical changes. As businesspeople, we need to meet the challenge of diversification.
I hope that when you read this, you’re either attending the Remodelers’ Show or have just gotten home. The show won’t give you all the answers. The show will address your business concerns with new and diversified educational seminars fitted to your needs. The show will give you the opportunity to network. Participate in events on the exhibit floor and check the SkillsUSA program, computer sessions, new products and innovative demonstrations. Become informed about the proposed lead-based paint additional regulations required when remodeling a pre-1978 house (look for a report from our Lead Paint Task Force meeting in the next issue), and attend the industry briefing about the new law that will give guidance on what you can do.
If you didn’t attend the show, you missed an opportunity to better yourself and your business. But the council offers many ways to hone your business skills. In your business plan, include membership in the Remodelors Council, CGR courses and the Remodelor 20 program. The rewards will far outweigh the cost as your perception of the industry will be sharpened. You will see positive results in the changing net worth of your business. And you will change, too, and become that better businessperson who can handle diversity.