At the Reed Residential Group's 2003 Benchmark conference, held in New Orleans in September, I had the privilege of moderating two panels, the first on how to select and purchase products and the second on determining the value of brand to remodelers and to consumers. What was especially fun was that the remodelers were not preaching to the contractor choir but speaking to a group of dealers, distributors and manufacturers who had signed up for our supplier track.
Some were surprised to hear that you'd pay more or switch brands for such "simple" details as being able to talk to a knowledgeable representative and getting on-site delivery. Others who had heard remodelers describe home improvement retailers as a major threat didn't expect an owner to say his remodeling company's service and knowledge put it far out of their reach.
That day and many others this year, I've watched suppliers at all levels digging into our industry with new fervor. Do they want to figure out how to make more money from the professional audience? Absolutely. Will this mean professional remodelers get better services and products and increase profits, too? Absolutely. Remodeling is more fragmented than the new home industry, so to be heard, our voices have to be that much louder.