The Forty Under 40 awards are a great way to honor remodeling’s brightest young stars. But the program also has a side benefit for our editorial team. Every year we pore over hundreds of applications, obtain questionnaires from the winners, and interview each honoree. All of that interaction provides a peek into what’s happening with young industry professionals.
While it is by no means a full representation, this “peek” has proven to be a fairly accurate reflection of what’s happening out there, which isn’t really surprising when you think about it. We have winners from all over the country and in a variety of roles including owners, company managers, and team members representing marketing, design, and production.
So what stood out this year?
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First is work/life balance, and I don’t mean that in the traditional sense. There is a movement in our culture toward sharing an authentic self even in a business setting, and that larger trend is seen in remodeling companies. There were many instances of this in our interviews: For example, Montae and Alexis Russell’s unusual and hilarious entry into the industry; Hilary Moore’s journey through adversity; Shauna Leavitt’s experience with leadership while her brother was passing; Jason Miller’s winding road to the right career; and many others.
The Forty Under 40 is a peek into the industry overall
The stories that have shaped our lives and identities are no longer relegated only to discussions with friends, instead, they are a part of our professional personas as well. I believe this is a positive change. The blending of work and life humanizes all of us and helps us become our best selves whether on or off the clock.
Second, I noticed an increased emphasis on workplace culture. In some cases, it was very intentional, such as Scott Weaver’s weekly meetings with the production department to build camaraderie or Ken Smith’s commitment to showing appreciation to his trade partners. But in many other cases, the concept was focused on less, yet clearly just as important—a brief comment or anecdote from a winner that showed how meaningful it is to create the right job environment.
Finally, I noticed technology—well to be clear, I observed its absence. Over the past few years, we’ve had a lot of Forty Under 40 winners who discussed their digital innovations. Many were switching over from paper to project management software and/or adopting cloud-based solutions in general.
I wrote a column at that time suggesting that the use of those products would soon be taken for granted. That transition is now complete among younger professionals. Using industry-specific technology to run your business is so ubiquitous that it’s assumed and no longer worth mentioning. What I heard mentioned more in this group of winners was customizing existing solutions for their businesses or switching from one software provider to another.
Taken together, this is an innovative, exciting, and accomplished group of change-makers. They are the future of the industry, and that future is bright.