Editorial: Bucking the Tend

Professional Remodeler Editor in Chief Jonathan Sweet reminds remodelers the recession will end -- and they should be prepared.

February 28, 2010


Jonathan Sweet

For those of us who are news junkies, it’d be easy to get the idea that no one has bought, sold or remodeled a home in the last three years.

The reality, of course, is a lot more nuanced. We all know we can’t paint the industry with a national brush. There are plenty of markets — Dallas, Pittsburgh and Omaha, to name a few — that have stayed relatively strong in the downturn. And in remodeling, conditions can vary practically from neighborhood to neighborhood.

In our cover story this month, we’ve got six examples of remodelers bucking the national trend. From New Jersey to Utah, they’ve found ways to succeed in this economy, whether it’s aggressively expanding their services or increasing their marketing budgets while other companies are cutting back.


The recession will end, jobs will come back and people will start spending again.

In almost every city there are success stories — heck, even Detroit has remodelers finding ways to survive; that’s what Mat Vivona of Father & Son Construction, who we profile in our Market Leaders Corner Office article is doing. Although the company’s volume has dropped from $8 million to $3 million in just five years, Vivona’s smart business decisions and willingness to take on smaller jobs have kept the company afloat.

These are just a few examples. I get e-mails and calls every week from remodelers talking about their successes. We’ve also been providing part of the education program at the Pella Pro Expos all over the country this year, and while the remodelers I talk to there have certainly seen better days, there’s no doubt that most of them are pretty optimistic.

And they have good reason to be. While we’ve got to make it through this, the long-term outlook is excellent for remodeling. The recession will end, jobs will come back and people will start spending again.

There’s also going to continue to be more incentives from the government to “go green.” The HomeStar program we’ve written about in the past seems to be edging closer to reality as I write this. That could inject billions more into the energy retrofit industry.

Market research firm SBI Energy projects huge increases for the market over the next few years in its recent report, “Energy-Efficient Home Renovations Market” (available at www.sbireports.com.) The group predicts a 15 percent growth in the energy-efficient window market by 2013; 25 percent growth in insulation installation this year alone; and 20 to 30 percent annual growth in energy-efficient residential roofing through 2013.

Our own research published in this issue shows that while many homeowners aren’t yet willing to pay extra for green features, there’s been marked improvement there since our first green survey in 2007.

So whether it’s green, a new tightened focus on customer service or design that blows clients away, find your success story — and to be sure to let us know about it.

Contact me at jonathan.sweet@reedbusiness.com or 630/288-8170, or follow me on Twitter: SweetEdit.

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