By Paul Deffenbaugh
The U.S. housing market has been through the worst recession in
the history of housing. In fact, 2011 will probably be marked up as
the worst year during that period. While the previous years'
demonstrated the meaning of "bubble," it was last year's anemic
performance that took the prize for futility.
On October 9, the metal construction industry will gather at the
Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Ill., for
METALCON International 2012. For architects, contractors, building
owners and suppliers interested in the metal construction industry,
this is the most important gathering of the year.
Since 2008, the goal of every business in the construction
industry has been to survive. We've all made the hard choices
forced by reduced revenues. Shrink the budget. Reduce workforce.
Shutter locations. Identify new sources of capital. For those that
moved aggressively to get their business models in alignment with
the new reality, now seems to be a time to breathe just a bit
With the recent high-profile ouster of University of Virginia
President Teresa Sullivan, there has been a lot of discussion of
how corporate tactics work. If you're unfamiliar with the story,
Sullivan was asked to resign rather than be fired by the Board of
Visitors because-as they stated later-they felt she was not driving
change in the university quickly enough. In particular, the board
was concerned the public university was failing to keep up with the
new demands and opportunity of online learning.
Where is the hottest residential market in country right now?
Phoenix, if you can believe it. Phoenix was may not have been the
epicenter of the housing industry collapse, but was right on the
edge. Today the market is making a strong comeback. Why?
Our standards of customer satisfaction are not being set by our
competitors or ourselves. They're being established by companies
such as Disney, Fed-Ex and Mercedes Benz. The experiences our
clients have with these and similar companies establish a deeper
understanding and expectation for customer service.
All of us dream of leading meaningful lives. To give our time
here a purpose. For those of us in the construction industry, there
is a unique testament to our life's work in the form of the
buildings we design, construct, supply materials for or own.
A strong building is constructed on the foundation of a
company's culture. The design is important, of course, as is the
precision of the engineering and the quality of the products. But
if the company constructing the building has a flawed culture, the
building will be flawed. Why?
For years, Modern Trade Communications has published Metal
Home Digest to help home builders, remodelers and architects
understand the techniques, opportunities and values of the use of
metal in home building and remodeling. The characteristics of
metal-its durability, adaptability and design presence-all suit the
residential environment well.
It's a cynical world out there and getting marketing messages
through to an audience that takes a jaundiced eye to any hint of
self-promotion can backfire. We are bombarded daily with marketing
messages. You can't sit in an airport lounge, pump gas or stand in
a checkout line at the grocery store without having some message of
"buy, buy, buy" flash at you.
When I talk to contractors in the metal construction industry, I
always ask, "How do you compete against your quality competition?"
I find it's a good way to get them to articulate the best aspects
of their companies, rather than just the mundane.
A friend of mine often observes, "You can't make a green product
with a brown company." She applies the admonition equally to
products and services, not caring whether the company is a building
product manufacturer, commercial contractor or magazine publisher.
The point is that companies who claim they make a green product
can't truly assert that if the back end of the business is as brown
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