As I write this, I’ve been with Professional Remodeler for less than three months. My first full week was spent at the International Builders Show in Atlanta, where I saw a lot of familiar names in plumbing and heating and air conditioning from my seven years with Supply House Times. Like most of the readers of my last magazine, remodelers are independent, down-to-earth entrepreneurs running private family companies. You face many of the same problems as distributors: succession strategies, a shortage of qualified employees and other management issues.
I don’t have to tell you that it’s not enough these days to create a good product. Remodelers have to excel at service at many levels. That’s where I hope I’ll be able to help.
My “beat” at Supply House Times was industrial pipe, valves and fittings. Successful industrial-PVF distributors are constantly honing their relationships with both their vendors and their customers to reduce the cost of doing business in an extremely competitive environment. They frequently enter long-term agreements for vendor-managed inventory and/or integrated supply, both designed to relieve customers of maintaining their own inventories of frequently used materials and to control prices.
At their most basic level, the terms are simple: You give me all your business, and I’ll make sure you have what you need when you need it for the lowest feasible cost. Arrangements such as these are often distributors’ only option in an industry with razor-thin margins on commodity products that are often sold on price alone.
Remodelers might not buy truckloads of specialty alloy pipe, but your business can benefit from streamlined transactions between seller and buyer. As senior editor of Professional Remodeler, I am committed to scouting innovative practices in remodeling, such as partnerships between remodelers and their suppliers. What works? What doesn’t? Why? How can remodelers team with manufacturers and distributors to improve everyone’s profitablility? How can Professional Remodelers differentiate themselves from competitors in the eyes of customers, who often look for low price only?
I also plan to delve into some of the other concerns shared by independent businesses in all industries. What exit strategies work best? How do you find and keep talented employees? What kind of compensation package would be most effective for your company? What’s the market like today? Next year? How will local, state or federal regulation affect your company in particular and the industry as a whole? What are the latest trends in design and techniques in construction?
Professional Remodeler is well into the continuous-improvement process — another tool borrowed from manufacturing. Starting next month, you’ll see changes in the magazine itself: a new design and an even greater commitment to providing the highest-quality publication in the field, both in terms of the information we provide and the way we present it. In other words, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
I might be the new kid on the block, but I will be an active, productive member of the remodeling community. I intend to spend as much time with all of you as possible because I don’t know a better way to find out what your concerns are. I’m looking forward to many years of working with all of you to promote greater professionalism in the remodeling industry and the success of each firm in it.