What's Behind the Curtain?

Sometime it is more then just the finished product that revels quality work.

March 31, 2001
Rod Sutton, CGRA, Editor In Chief


One of my favorite movie lines is from the Wizard of Oz: "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!" The man behind the curtain - a carnival balloonist who flew into Oz and was subsequently exalted as a wizard - utters that great line upon the discovery by Dorothy and gang that the wizard’s not a wizard after all.

We’ve all experienced that revelation in some form. Perhaps that’s why the line carries such universal and lasting meaning. It also reveals a certain level of disappointment, a level of dismay at finding that what you and others believed was true is not.

Professional Remodeler editors have often found that curtain in projects featured in our award-winning series, "Project Spotlight." For the third time, Spotlight has won a Jesse H. Neal Award from the American Business Media. That’s a profound honor, but it resonates with the reality that Spotlight wins because it works. Spotlight shines the light on the financial workings of a real remodeling project. We run beautiful pictures, but we talk about budgets and cash flow.

Yet we’ve often been disappointed by curtains as we’ve investigated projects. Before a project becomes a Spotlight, it and the remodeler must pass a battery of tests. We don’t like surprises; we don’t want beautiful projects with failing financials. So remodelers must first pass the test of professionalism. Are these companies successful? Do others in the industry recognize them as such? Are they willing to "bare all," that is, provide our editors with open books on their remodeling projects?

We then send out a checklist to allow the remodeler to see just what it is we’re requiring of him and his company. The company must be willing to provide us with the details that allow for a true representation of how that project performed: schedules, budgets and financial performance.

A small percentage of time, however, all the initial leg work in the world hasn’t prevented a project from being exposed. We have scuttled projects where the numbers were fuzzy. In a couple of cases, the remodeler has backed out after finding out just how serious we are about the details.

The result has been a level of project that is legitimate. None of our Project Spotlights has been perfect. Has there ever been a project perfect at all levels? But all of our Spotlights have brought readers important and useful information on how remodeling projects operate.

We are thankful for the recognition from our journalism peers. That glory, though, would pale if not for the true value of the content recognized. So keep following the yellow brick road; there are more great projects to be Spotlighted ahead.

About the Author

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