We've Got Mail

Letters to the editor about handling bad press and customizing draw schedules.

October 31, 1999

Dear Professional Remodeler:

I read all trade magazines regularly, but I read your magazine cover-to-cover. The article on Remodeling Designs was very well written. I was grateful to see some local people receive media coverage. We work so hard here in the Midwest and don’t receive much media coverage. Maybe I related to it because I know these guys, but it was a tremendous article.

Lately, I’ve been offended by some of the media’s coverage of labor. It seems like other magazines--not your magazine--are telling us to go and take employees from other companies. Remodeling Designs and our company are similar in quantity of employees and similar in quantity of lead carpenters. We surely don’t want to compete. The goal is to educate and get the labor pool going.

We need to close the loop on creating an interest in the trades and placing potential future carpenters and managers or trade persons in general into the system. The process must begin early in candidates’ school years and the media must confirm and express the need in the market place and what rewarding careers the trades can be.

The potential for very good to above average income is certainly here and as the labor pool reduces, the earning potential increases--supply and demand. This situation will continue to be most burdensome to all companies that have a business plan to increase volume levels. At one point or another, we all reach maximum efficiency with the staffs we have and will require growth in staff in order to increase earnings beyond that level.

I do not see many companies that are willing to reduce in size and increase profits, or stay the same size for eternity. The consumer is going to be the one who suffers in the end with continued "fly-by-night" work being produced and more startup companies being created due to work load being demanded at current and predicted levels. I hate to wish bad luck on anyone or on our industry, but a turn in the economy could reduce the problem slightly. Attrition always weeds out those who cannot ride out the storm and that would inject a small number of prospective employees into the labor market.

Thank you for all that you do for our industry. Your magazine is doing tremendous things. Please keep going. You’re on the right track.

--Jeff Hurst, CR

Hurst Total Home

Kittering, Ohio

Dear Professional Remodeler:

Great articles! We’re a national nonprofit consumer group that represents the nation’s 70 million homeowners. Too often an entire industry gets tarred because of the practices of a few bad apples. Since few consumers are knowledgeable about remodeling, and large sums are at stake, consumer apprehension is understandable.

The answer is consumer education and more consumer education. We have been pleased to partner with NARI and other organizations in the building trades on consumer education as well as on political issues where the interests of contractors and consumers align (go to AmericanHomeowners.org for more information). Contractors and their trade groups need to become more active, and work more with consumer groups and the press to get their story out.

--Bruce Hahn, President

American Homeowners Foundation

Arlington, Va.

Dear Professional Remodeler:

Your article regarding draw schedules is just the kind of gibberish I would expect when an attorney gets involved. Instead of asking a customer for money up front (which I would never do), why not just go to work and get something done before you ask for money? Any remodeler worth his salt should be financially stable enough to bankroll the project at least until the foundation is in place. How about getting the job done on a timely basis, say a maximum of three months with three payments--foundation, frame inspection and completion. We do about $1.5 million per year, bill our customers by mail, and have no punch lists, lawyers or past due accounts.

--Michael Walter

Michael Walter Construction Co.

Yerington, Nev.

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