Trade Secrets

Jonathan Sweet discusses blogging and the testing and tracking of green products for remodelers

April 30, 2008

If you have a Trade Secret you would like to share, e-mail Senior Editor Jonathan Sweet at

Blogging to Success

It’s no secret that consumers are looking to the Web to inform their buying decisions for just about everything, including remodeling. Remodelers who aren’t online do themselves a tremendous disservice with most serious buyers.

Wayne Morris, president of PrestigeCore, an Orlando, Fla., remodeling company, has taken things a step further by blogging to his audience at

He has been blogging since he started his company last year, opting for that instead of a traditional Web site. Morris uses Google Blogger. If you’ve read many blogs, you've almost certainly looked at one that was created with the free software, which is one of the most popular blog platforms out there.

He says he decided to use a blog instead of a Web site because he can more quickly update information and post photos without having to rely on a Webmaster or other bulky software. Because he is using the Blogger software, part of the Google family, the most popular search engine instantly recognizes it.

He can track traffic using Google’s AdSense, so he knows he’s getting good exposure.

“I also can spend a little more time worrying about print marketing since I feel like I get enough exposure on the Internet,” he says.

Although the majority of his business comes from word-of-mouth, he feels having the blog gives his clients confidence that he is not a fly-by-night contractor.

It “gives my clients a better peace of mind knowing that I am not just a handyman with tools; we are a company that is trying to grow using all media types,” he says.

Some services worth checking if you’re going to blog:

  • Blogger — Free, but Google gets to place ads on your blog
  • WordPress — Free, but also might include text ads
  • — Offers free or paid blogs, with ads on the free ones
  • TypePad — Monthly or annual fees, but you control the content

If you already have a Web site, you can also consider putting the blog directly on the site using a variety of software programs.

(We found out about Morris’ blog when he responded to a post on Senior Editor Jonathan Sweet’s blog. Join the discussion at


Backing Up the Hype

Everywhere you look these days you’ll hear a green message, whether it’s TV ads for cars and trucks or on the floor of the latest trade show.

With nearly every building products manufacturer touting the environmentally friendly aspects of their goods, it can be difficult for both remodelers and homeowners to evaluate just how green something is.

So Doug Selby, president of Meadowlark Builders, takes matters into his own hands, testing and tracking the performance of every green product the Ann Arbor, Mich., company installs.

“We try to be fairly scientific with our work and make sure it performs as it is supposed to perform,” Selby says.

Meadowlark has been building and remodeling green for years and has accumulated statistics and information, using real-life Michigan applications, to show the impact the work can make. The company also uses computer modeling for its heating and air conditioning systems to make them as efficient as possible.

The research not only helps Selby choose products to use but also makes the clients feel confident in choosing Meadowlark for their green project. The company has developed a group of easy-to-understand charts and graphs that it uses with clients to show reduced energy costs, healthier indoor air and material conservation. The company works in several aspects of green, but energy efficiency and indoor air quality are of the most interest to clients, Selby says.

Meadowlark also has an extensive green section on its Web site,, that shares information with potential customers. The approach has also gotten Meadowlark coverage in the local paper as a green construction expert.

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