|Rod Sutton, CGRA, Editor In Chief
Our philosophy regarding our relationship with the remodeling industry is this: We’re not reporting on the industry, we’re in the industry. Translated, that’s simply a mindset that keeps us focused on what’s truly important in this business. One of the most exciting programs over the past several years has been the NAHB Research Center’s National Remodeling Quality Award program, co-sponsored by this magazine. We’ve judged entries for a number of years and have found amazing examples of professionalism and excellence. We’ve highlighted NRQ winners in feature articles, and each month we report on a best practice in our Great Practices department.
Reporting about these companies is simple. Do basic research, make a few telephone calls, and take great notes. But, in order to truly understand how a quality-driven remodeler functions, first-hand observation has no equal.
Last year, Oakland, Calif.-based Winans Construction won the Gold Award. The company looks good on paper, and certainly the owners—Paul and Nina, CRs—have an excellent reputation in the industry and in their local market. They’re involved at all levels, and their peers speak highly of them.
But the company’s greatness exists at the project and home office levels. It’s where the work happens, where the customer interaction takes place, where the projects are built. What happens at the company’s headquarters exemplifies true quality management: a team of professionals, fully committed to common goals, working and living in a caring, productive environment.
For many—if not most—remodelers, attaining the level of quality performance that Winans has reached remains a mystery. Some think it’s simply a matter of telling employees what to do, how to do it, and when. Some think creating a mission statement and distributing it to the rank and file will provide the guidance for greatness. Some think leadership comes one-way from the top.
Winans didn’t reach Gold that way.
The Winans have discovered that their employees will support what the owners believe in, but only if employees have ownership in the process. If it’s the Winans’ vision from above, the employees won’t buy it. This is the subtle missing link in many companies’ drive for quality success, and for such an entreprenuerial-type industry as remodeling, it can be a foreign concept.
As we spent time within the Winans organization, messages that couldn’t be captured via telephone or on paper became evident. Employees understood and were committed to the processes that led to success for the company. It wasn’t just recitation of catch phrases or buzzwords; in today’s venacular: They got it.
Quality leadership is like that. It’s not passed down, layer by layer, until the folks that do the work "understand." Quality leadership rises to the top. Common values become company values, and company values become a culture that nurtures success.