Generating Buzz for Professional Remodelers

NAHBRemodelingMonthTo help promote the benefits of working with a professional remodeler, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has designated the month of May as National Home Remodeling Month.

Websites such as Pinterest or Houzz might make home remodeling projects look like a breeze, but there’s something to be said for bringing in a professional remodeler to get the best results. After all, how many of you remodelers have been called to bail out a homeowner with a botched DIY remodeling project? These sites can also be a good way to showcase you work.

Add this with compelling signs that homeowner demand for remodeling projects is on the rise and it couldn’t be a better time to proactively educate homeowners on the value of a professional remodeler.

An article from BuildingOnline reports strong growth indicators for remodeling in the first quarter of 2013. It’s reported a main contributor to this is that many homeowners now need to address projects that they had postponed for a lengthy amount of time. A recent study by the NAHB shows kitchen and bathroom projects remain the most popular remodeling jobs—both projects were up 17 percent from just a few years ago.

Whether it is the experience a professional can provide or the accurate costs and timeline, homeowners should recognize when it’s necessary to call in the experts and get the job done right the first time.

The NAHB also provides a recap of tools available to help advance your remodeling business. The materials can easily be adapted for use on an ongoing basis.  Remodelers should also research manufacturers for special programs that can help reduce costs on projects.

May might be National Home Remodeling month, but the opportunity to promote the benefits of a professional remodeler is a message that resonates 365 days a year.

Eric Nilsson is Vice President, Corporate Marketing for CertainTeed Corporation

Saint-Gobain’s Expert “Throw Down” at the AIA 2012 Convention and Design Expo

 
 
The excitement for this year’s American Institute of Architects (AIA) Convention and Design Expo is growing for Saint-Gobain and its family of businesses! We will be heading down to the nation’s capital from May 17 – 19 to help architects and designers solve problems they are having on specific projects and introduce them to the expertise within Saint-Gobain.

You might ask yourself—who is Saint-Gobain and what do they have to do with CertainTeed?  Well, Saint-Gobain is CertainTeed’s parent company and also the largest building materials company in the world.

You already know Saint-Gobain, it may not be that obvious though—our roots start in France where 350 years ago, we made the glass that adorns the Hall of Mirrors in Versalles.  Today, we make beer bottles for Budweiser, manufactured the new roof on the Dallas Cowboys stadium and through CertainTeed, manufactured the ceiling tiles in the Denver airport and made the roof that adorns Henry Ford’s home.  This is a mere, and I mean mere glimpse into this massive company, but, also a glimpse into the possibilities.

That’s why Saint-Gobain is bringing all of its businesses to the AIA show this week, and not just to show off products.  Saint-Gobain features the largest and smartest collection of building scientists and technical experts in North America from its trusted North American companies:  CertainTeed, ADFORS, Grenite, Norton, SAGE, Saint-Gobain Glass, Saint-Gobain Solar, Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics and SolarGard to help architects “solve the unsolvable problem.” We urge design professionals to bring your unsolvable problems to our booth and try to stump out experts!

This year, we’re talking moisture, indoor environmental quality, aesthetics, thermal efficiency and solar and our experts are ready to talk.  If you can’t make the show, check us out virtually Trade Show page that will share show updates through Twitter so that non-attendees can feel part of the action.  Through this page you can also ask questions or present unsolvable problems that our experts can tackle. If you submit an unsolvable problem you will be entered into a prize drawing.

During AIA 2012, we will be blogging here about show events and observations from guest bloggers.  Should be fun and entertaining!

Please join the conversation at AIA from your desk by bookmarking the Trade Show page. We want to help you feel part of the AIA Convention and to help solve your design challenges.

Skill and Life Training are Part of the YouthBuild USA Experience

Little did I know that when I accepted the invitation to participate in theYouthBuild USA sponsorship launch in Worcester, Massachusetts that I would actually be put to work! 

My first professional job when I finished college was in Worcester and it was nice to return, especially to take part in an event bringing student skills training and neighborhood rebuilding together.

CertainTeed’s parent company Saint-Gobain recently launched a three-year partnership to support YouthBuild USA projects in Philadelphia, PA; Worcester, MA; Schenectady, NY and Akron, OH. The sponsorship is not just financial but includes product donations, technical expertise and training.

While it is always nice to be part of a check presentation supporting an organization providing valuable service and training to youth, this particular event brought in a new and personally gratifying dimension for me – the opportunity to work along side the teachers and the students from YouthBuild.

I was assigned to a team installing a CertainTeed Evernew® deck and railing on the back portion of the building. Other groups were working on installing CertaWrap™ house wrap and our Weatherboards™ fiber cement siding product.

I don’t usually have the opportunity to get ‘hands on’ with building materials and had forgotten how important math skills and teamwork are in the building trades.  The YouthBuild teacher would ask the students questions about the measurements and checking on the accuracy before cutting product. It was obvious this had recently been part of the classroom instruction for these apprentices.

I also realized that what makes YouthBuild special is that not just the teaching of building skills but the development of life skills that these students experience by showing up every day.  For example, the importance of listening to the instructor or foreman on a worksite, the attention to detail, applying knowledge learned, working well with others, the commitment to completing the job, and the pride in seeing the finished product.

We should all be reminded of the value in an honest day’s work.  I could see it in the accomplishments of these students in Worcester.

Eric Nilsson

Eric Nilsson is Vice President, Corporate Marketing for CertainTeed Corporation

JLC Live Residential Construction Show Stuns with Volume of Exhibitors and Attendees

Myron Ferguson clinic on drywall finishing

Why on a sunny, cool, dry, Rhode Island day would nearly 6,000 residential construction professionals from all over New England – and beyond – take a couple of days off, after the most brutal winter in New England history, to attend a trade show?

Why would manufacturers from all over the country flock to Providence, Rhode Island to exhibit at this trade event and why is there a higher demand for exhibit space at this show than the capacity to exhibit?

Why is this show one of the few trade events in the last three for four years to have growth as a problem?

Why? Because JLC Live, presented by The Journal of Light Construction, Remodeling, and Tools of the Trade magazines published by Hanley Wood delivers one of the highest trade show values – pound for pound, dollar for dollar – in the industry!

This show’s attendance increased by nearly 10 percent from 2010 to 2011 and the exhibitor participation increased by 15 percent.  This is extraordinary in a down economy!

Today, building technology is changing at a rapid rate. The beauty of JLC Live is the marriage of the practical side with the science/theory side attracting installers, applicators and remodelers who are eager not only to see the latest products but who want to see the science/theory and best practice applications in action by attending hands-on clinics.

Two examples of the show’s clinics supported by CertainTeed (both packed) were:

  • Drywall Trade Secrets – Gypsum drywall finishing clinic conducted by Myron Ferguson, Building Specialist, demonstrating best practices of drywall installation and finishing using a new gypsum product, AirRenew™ that removes volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) from the air improving the indoor air quality.
  • Home Performance SolutionsBill Robinson, Building Specialist discussed the opportunities of bringing energy efficiency to older homes.  The retrofit market will continue to grow as homeowners seek to improve the efficiencies of their building envelop. It is expected that, over the coming years, the remodeling market will grow by an annual rate of 3.5 percent.

From CertainTeed’s perspective, the benefit of an event like this is that the attendees are so excited by what they see and learn they will leave the event and go out and buy building products.  The impact is that quick.  In this economy the construction industry is a highly competitive place. Contractors and remodelers knowing they need to differentiate themselves waste no time in adding new ‘tools’ to their toolbox.

At a time when we are not ‘out of the woods’ as an industry,  it is obvious that building professionals find this show a significant value proposition making it well worth their time and resources.

If you were at JLC Live, let me know what you thought of the event.

 

Eric Nilsson

Eric Nilsson is Vice President, Corporate Marketing for CertainTeed Corporation

Symposium to Connect with Architects and Designers is a Slam Dunk

Eric Nilsson

Eric Nilsson

Building products manufacturers had a rare opportunity to participate in a symposium that really hit the mark.  The event was sponsored and organized by Tom Miller of Miller Brooks  and was recently held in Indianapolis, Indiana. 

I have been to dozens of these types of events over the years and often come away empty handed or feeling I have revisited information I already knew.  But this event was first class, not only in the quality of the content and the interaction between the speakers and the audience but from the venues.  The opening event was held at the Columbia Club, which was established in 1889 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This set the tone for the event with its elegant architecture, design and its rich history. The symposium was held at the NCAA Hall of Champions which honors all the championship teams of the NCAA collegiate athletics. This was a championship event in a championship facility. It was the perfect venue.

The keynote speaker was Rex Miller who is the Thought Leader for Mindshift, a consortium within the commercial real estate business working toward industry transformation and author of The Commercial Real Estate Revolution.  He discussed today’s economic climate and the rapid changes taking place in society and the business world.  For companies to survive, they must learn the best ways to react to these changes.

One of the concepts he discussed was reverse mentoring.  Knowledge is no longer in the hands of the seasoned professionals.  Knowledge is instant and it’s in the hands of the young. We need to allow our younger employees to bring new knowledge to us especially with regard to engagement and interaction with our changing audiences.

The second part, and the most valuable to me, was a panel of experts in design and architecture, both professionals and providers to the professionals, who fielded questions from the audience. This was a very lively discussion with very valuable content. They were also able to voice their opinions openly about how they want to interact with manufacturers. One key message I came away with was the more expertise that a sales representative can deliver in the form of answers to questions or problems that will save them time – that has real value to them.

At the end of the day it was clear that while this event may have looked liked a thousand others, it was truly one of a kind.

Eric Nilsson is Vice President, Corporate Marketing for CertainTeed Corporation.

Signs of Recovery at Journal of Light Construction LIVE

Eric Nilsson

Eric Nilsson

I attended the Hanley Wood Journal of Light Construction (JLC) LIVE show which was recently held at the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence. I had heard about this show but hadn’t had a chance to attend until now. This is a residential construction show focused on installers, contractors, remodelers and builders that would be categorized as smaller businesses.

This event actually grew out of individuals sharing experience and best practices in common locations like coffee shops, diners and lumber yard parking lots. Fifteen years ago, it was adopted and expanded by Hanley Wood but they kept the original idea of peer-to-peer sharing of information stories and strategies. This show is networking, business education and skill-building at it’s finest.

On first walking into the event I was struck immediately with a reassuring “buzz” which tells me that building professionals, at least in this segment, are beginning to see some recovery in the industry even if it means changing or expanding their focus and expertise.

A highlight of the show was the product demonstrations and installations taking place at the exhibit booths as well as in key areas of the show.  Attendance at the demonstrations was overwhelming. The sessions were on topics such as: 

  • Weatherization/Window Installation Clinic
  • Deck Building Workshop
  • Drywall Inside and Out Clinic
  • Energy Audits for Contractors

The aisles were packed with remodelers looking to learn new skills or improve skills especially with standard products, not necessarily looking for new products.  I noticed the shift back to the basics. Instead of granite countertops and stylish bathroom fixtures, the focus is returning to energy efficiency and adding more usable living space. The downturn in the construction industry has probably pushed some regular home builders into remodeling and this show was a great place to pick up knowledge and best practices with regard to product installations which they may have sub-contracted out in the past.

This show also gave building professionals an opportunity to connect with manufacturers directly.  Most remodelers and builders generally work through distributors so having this face-to-face time with manufacturers is an added plus.

From a manufacturer’s viewpoint wanting to solidly connect with the contractors and remodelers who serve as ambassadors of our brand and products with the homeowner, this event is a must attend.

Eric Nilsson is Vice President, Corporate Marketing for CertainTeed Corporation.

A Look at One H.O.U.S.E. of the Future

At the recent Ecobuild Expo and Conference in London, England there was an element that I thought merited mention:  The University of Nottingham entry to the Solar Decathlon Europe.

University of Nottingham Solar House at Ecobuild

University of Nottingham Solar House at Ecobuild

In June 2010, Madrid, Spain will host the International Solar Decathlon Europe. This event alternates years with the U.S. Solar Decathlon held in Washington, D.C.  University-based teams will travel to Madrid and reconstruct their solar designed houses. The entries are judged on 10 separate environmental areas, including solar systems and sustainability, market viability, and architectural merit. The University of Nottingham team dismantled and reassembled their solar house on the show floor at Ecobuild. It was exciting to see what they accomplished.

The Solar Decathlons – International competitions for colleges and universities to design and build the most effective and energy efficient house – are making great strides to prepare future architects to find the best solutions for creating sustainable homes, focused on solar power.

A key objective for the students was to ensure that the Nottingham H.O.U.S.E. would comply with the U.K.’s code for sustainable homes. The Code covers nine sustainability issues such as responsible sourcing of materials, limiting consumption of drinking water, health & wellbeing and of course Energy & CO2 emissions, the latter being the most important and the one that will be progressively converted into Building Regulations towards zero carbon. The students also have to live in the house to demonstrate its effectiveness and energy efficiency.

Saint-Gobain U.K. has partnered with The University of Nottingham, not only with many of the products but also with technical expertise.  This home meets both Code Level 6 of the code for sustainable homes and Passive House standards which, I am told, is an industry first for the U.K.

This type of partnering is a wonderful way to provide the designers and innovators of tomorrow with real world experience working with professionals who are currently designing and perfecting products for the marketplace. 

We should all take a closer look at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon when it comes around again in October 2011.  From what I saw of the Nottingham H.O.U.S.E., it is well worth the time.

Eric Nilsson

Eric Nilsson

Eric Nilsson is Vice President, Corporate Marketing for CertainTeed Corporation.

Ecobuild is an Eye Opener for the Green Movement

Saint-Gobain booth at Ecobuild 2010

Saint-Gobain booth at Ecobuild 2010

In early March, I attended the Ecobuild 2010 Conference and Expo in London, England to see how the sustainable and green awareness message and activity level is handled in the United Kingdom and Europe.  Our parent company, Saint-Gobain was an event sponsor and large exhibitor at this event displaying our sustainable solutions and systems. This show is the equivalent of the GreenBuild Conference and Expo held annually in the U.S.  It was an eye-opener, to say the least.  The U.K. is far ahead of us in the development and integration of energy efficient products. The show had 1,000 exhibitors, attracted 41,000 attendees, and hosted 600 speakers on sustainable topics. The enthusiasm on the show floor ran high. It is clear that even in this time of downturn in the construction industry, the goal of a lower carbon built environment continues to accelerate in other parts of the world.

The heavier emphasis on energy efficiency at Ecobuild verses the trade events I have seen here in the U.S. could be because the cost of energy in the U.K. is higher for both homes and automobiles. In addition, government regulations are more stringent with regard to requiring industry to reduce carbon emissions.

Not surprisingly, there was a strong emphasis on insulation products, primarily fiberglass but also reflective foils and foam insulations.  I am an Insulation guy so I was particularly interested in these products. A new product I saw was a wood fiber insulation product that is used in side walls as a replacement for other types of insulation. Solar panels, either for roofs or ground installation, were also heavily displayed.

But most intriguing was the fact that in every product display, regardless of its place in the building structure, for example a roof truss or steel stud, the marketing story had some energy efficiency twist to it.  They weren’t just selling wood, roofing or insulation every product had an element of how the product contributes to saving energy and reducing the carbon footprint.  The small effort to include more energy efficiency visuals and words in terms of the products we promote would go a long way in raising the consciousness of energy efficiency in the U.S.

The construction industry could learn a good lesson from the activities that the U.K. is undertaking in terms of the development of energy efficient products, and in generating awareness of energy efficient products.  We shouldn’t wait until regulations change or mandates kick-in to step-up sustainable product development and implementation.  The momentum started over there could easily be transferred over here which would not only be good for our planet but also for our pocketbook.

 

 

 

Eric Nilsson

Eric Nilsson

Eric Nilsson is Vice President, Corporate Marketing for CertainTeed Corporation

 

 

Reaching Abroad for Sustainable Solutions

Hello, my name is Eric Nilsson and I am Vice President, Corporate Marketing for CertainTeed Corporation 

ENilsson_Who says “there’s no such thing as a free lunch?”  Well, I am here to tell you that there is—bu you have to be in the Philadelphia area to take advantage of it.

At CertainTeed, we are excited to be members of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), having the opportunity to interact with the design community and to sponsor the upcoming, complimentary luncheon at the AIA, Philadelphia Chapter, featuring David M. Adamson, a consultant in sustainable construction from England on September 29, 2009.

Adamson, a Professor of architecture at Cambridge University, has been involved with sustainable design and life-cycle analysis in both his academic work and as a consultant for the British government. His expertise is on the economic value of sustainable design building practices as a matter of public policy. For example, he is a member of a team that advises Cambridge University on the design and construction of new buildings, and making sure they are built according to sustainable design standards. He has also worked as an advisor to the British government doing a similar task, but on a national scale.

CertainTeed president and CEO, Peter Dachowski, invited Adamson, a long-time colleague, to stop in Philadelphia prior to another engagement in the U.S to present “The Shift to Whole-Life Value in Building Procurement Principles: A View from the U.K.” One of the main themes of the talk concerns the change in the underlying cost-benefit analysis that defines how government agencies and other public institutions plan, design and construct buildings.

The policy has shifted from merely reducing costs to providing maximum value for whatever dollars are spent. This is what the shift to whole-life value means: when a whole-life cost-benefit analysis that includes environmental costs is performed, it is seen from a public policy perspective.  A sustainable building is the best value for both the occupants as well as for society at large.

This is a great opportunity for the design community in Greater Philadelphia to learn about the efforts taking place in the U.K. with regard to sustainable design. You can register for the luncheon by phone 610-341-7298 or email buildingsolutions@saint-gobain.com.