Remodeling Show 2015: Perspectives from the editors of QR


Focus on Reaching and Helping Remodelers


The Remodeling Show took over Navy Pier this year, and I can’t help but wonder if anyone else appreciated the coincidence of the iconic Chicago landmark being under construction as a mass of remodelers, contractors and manufacturers descended upon it. Along with Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline, there was much to see and learn during the 2015 Remodeling Show. 

One of the compelling demonstrations I saw over the two days on the show floor was at the National Gypsum booth. Anitra Mecadon from DIY Network’s Mega Dens took volunteers to demonstrate the strength of National Gypsum’s Purple Hi-Impact XP compared to standard drywall. One swing with a wooden bat went straight through the standard drywall, while two solid swings only created a minor hole in the Purple Hi-Impact XP (a video on my Twitter account – @LarsenKc – shows the demonstration). Although the product isn’t new to market, the company is turning its attention more to getting its message, tools and products into the hands of remodelers and contractors. The website shares projects along with installation tips, videos and a materials calculator. 

Other products I saw around the show to keep an eye out for were from Boral, HOVER and CertainTeed. Although Qualified Remodeler will feature more detailed product information soon, these manufacturers took the opportunity to present new products to the Remodeling Show audience. Boral introduced two color additions to its Versetta Stone line: Graphite and Mission Point. HOVER is a unique mobile app that measures the exterior of a home by simply taking eight pictures, and then within a few hours users will receive HOVER Pro measurements that include a 3-D rendering; currently the app is only available for Apple devices, but will be expanding to Android yet in 2015. CertainTeed adds to its siding product offerings with the introduction of its Cedar Impressions Individual 5 in. Sawmill Shingles, which will be available in a Natural Blend, Cedar Blend, Driftwood Blend and Rustic Blend to mimic the different stages cedar naturally would go through. 

Another great presentation I had the chance to take in over my time at Navy Pier was an educational event Masonite held with representatives from GuildQuality and Angie’s List called Ask the Expert. The session included an open panel discussion about why it’s important for remodelers to pay attention to their online brand management. One participant said, “How you respond (to online comments) is your choice, but don’t think you’re not out there.” Participating in the conversation people may be having about your company and keeping track of those conversations will help ensure that what is being put out there by others is actually representative of your company. The Ask the Expert educational event was part of the rollout for Masonite’s Preferred Remodeler Program, which includes information, resources and benefits from strategic partnerships with companies like GuildQuality and Angie’s List.




Learning the Business 

The Remodeling Show Oct. 1-2 in Chicago marked the fourth time I’ve attended this event. This year, I decided to focus much of my time and effort in attending education sessions. 

Shawn McCadden presented a session titled “Designing and remodeling your company to last today and into the future.” In it, he emphasized a business’s need to be sustainable and always work better. Implement predictable systems that employees need to follow. Create new leaders within your business so that you have someone to take over your business one day. McCadden recommends investing more brain and leadership equity into a business than sweat equity. 

Paul Winans presented about “The answers you need when selling.” He asserts that everyone in your company sells even if they’re not always aware of it and should be prepared to answer client questions. One common question a potential client might ask is: “What is your markup?” Winans recommends finding out what the question behind the question is. If they’re asking about markup, they’re probably not sold on your company but they are fixated on a price. Other pointers when talking to potential clients including using terms such as “expected return” rather than “net profit” and gauging the potential client’s interest midway through the conversation through a question such as: ”What do you think of what I have said so far?” Also be sure to remind them that their home is an investment. Ask, “What are you prepared to invest in your home to solve problems X, Y, Z you told me about earlier?”

Victoria Downing spoke about “The ins and outs of hiring.” Downing engaged the audience in her talk and several attendees mentioned hiring challenges include difficulty finding anyone and difficulty in getting people interested in integrating new technology into the way they work. Downing recommends always hiring people better than ourselves – not just worker bees, but thinkers. Although being cognizant of finances is healthy, don’t nickel and dime yourself to death by hiring the cheapest person; hire the qualified person. Other hiring process considerations include creating a specific job description, creating an employee handbook, recruiting consistently and creatively, qualifying candidates, preparing for the interview, interviewing for aptitude and attitude, then onboarding the candidate. 

While walking the show floor and visiting with various exhibitors, almost all of them indicated show traffic was disappointingly slow. That didn’t mean they didn’t have some cool products to share, though. I learned about decking, waterproofing, windows, security systems, ceilings, railings and more. Be sure to check out our November issue for a product wrap up of some of the new products we learned about during the 2015 Remodeling Show.

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