What is Your Next Opportunity to Lead?

By Jim Moody, CAE

CSA President

“You don’t just sell things. You sell your knowledge of materials and building. You are the building experts in your town.”

Craig Webb, editor-in-chief of ProSales and Remodeling, made this comment during his review of industry trends at the CSA Annual Meeting last year. He suggested that understanding industry trends can provide new direction and new markets for dealers throughout the United States. When you are the expert in your town, customers will turn to you for your knowledge, as well as your products.

In no particular order, here are some suggestions for expanding your markets through expert knowledge:

Indoor Air Quality
As architects and builders work to create tighter homes with increasingly sophisticated filtration systems, they are addressing health issues involving dust mites, molds and other allergens. Craig quote these statistics: families living in homes that have been retrofitted have seen a 67 percent decline in emergency room visits. Aetna Insurance saves more than $800 for every asthma-related hospital visit and $8,800 for each asthma-related hospital stay that can be eliminated due to better indoor air quality. Improving indoor air quality is similar to recognizing the danger of lead paint in the 1970s.

Craig mentioned two great examples of companies focusing on these new building issues. Bill Hayward, CEO of Hayward Healthy Homes in Monterey, Calif., has created a business helping his customers design, build and retrofit healthier homes. He also evaluates products and offers the review on his website. Paul Kocharhook created Pathway Design & Construction in Seattle, Wash., where he focuses on sustainable and healthy building practices. Can environmental expertise open a new possibility for your business?

Aging in Place
Baby boomers seem oblivious to the obvious and many plan to stay in their homes, even though their homes are not designed for elderly residents. Craig said this age group is remodeling more than any other. Nationwide, 39 percent of boomers plan renovations to their homes within the next three years.

Take a look at the average age in your area. Becoming an expert in remodeling homes for occupancy by older people could be an opportunity. Among other things, these residents will benefit from bathroom remodels involving curbless showers and seats in showers, as well as grab bars and wider areas to turn a wheelchair or walker. Consider researching universal design – creating homes that work no matter what your age.

Mother Nature
As weather patterns continue to change for the worse, we will see building codes change in response to Mother Nature. Katrina and Sandy proved that existing homes can be destroyed in one event. Communities will begin to update codes to handle more powerful storms and fire events than ever before.

In addition to code changes, design principles will also change. Already, resilient design has become an industry concept. The Resilient Design Institute defines the term as “the intentional design of buildings, landscapes, communities, and regions in response to vulnerabilities to disaster and disruption of normal life.” In other words, designing so a building can be occupied in less than optimal conditions. For example, using large windows that open to mitigate the need for air conditioning. Concrete, concrete block and steel may replace wood as preferred building materials. Resilient design may become more common as storm intensity increases.

As you plan for the future, ask yourself, “What am I really selling?” It may be more than just the materials to build new homes.