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Gary Zajicek is my guest blogger. With 35 years experience in the industry from carpenter to VP of Construction and Customer Relations, he has achieved the National Housing Quality Award Gold, AVID Best in Customer Experience Award, Energy Value Housing Award, PB Builder of the Year and many others and as someone who understands how to leverage Quality Management I have always valued his insights.
I recently re-read Moby Dick and have to say that I was stunned by how vivid and modern it seemed. I felt transported to the streets of New Bedford, Mass., in the 1820s and to the decks of the whaling vessel Pequod. The clarity of the writing and its vibrancy are among the many reasons why Moby Dick is considered one of the Great American Novels, and Herman Melville, a giant among great writers.  
There’s a 1920 California bungalow for sale in Los Angeles that is tiny (480 square feet) and expensive ($449,000) … and yet, very appealing. The reason for the high price tag is the home’s location in Los Feliz, a hot spot for younger celebrities and regular schmoes who want to rub shoulders with said celebrities. Los Feliz is also close to downtown L.A. and features a bustling district of restaurants, bars and boutiques.
An article that was published in The Atlantic a couple of weeks ago got me thinking about McMansions, which were ubiquitous during the housing bubble. Big and bland, the McMansion became synonymous with middle-class excess, argues author Jordan Weissmann. After the housing-market crash, people came to their senses and home sizes shrank somewhat.
It’s been seven months since Hurricane Sandy slammed the Mid-Atlantic and New England shorelines. Sadly, for most Americans, the storm has become a distant memory. As for the victims, many are fighting insurance companies for fair compensation for the damage sustained, which has curtailed rebuilding efforts.
I recently read an article written by Bill Lurz, a former colleague at Professional Builder. Bill is now editor-in-chief of AvidBuilder.com. If you’re acquainted with Bill or have read his articles, you know how deep his knowledge of this industry runs.
More employees quit their jobs and the dramatic impact of a new yogurt company! These two stories over the past few days reminded me of the value of the Quality Management and specifically the National Housing Quality Award (NHQA) criteria, specifically the need to focus on Employee Satisfaction (even during economic downturns) and the constant need to be aware of new organizations and products entering your marketplace. 
Whenever I come across an article in the Wall Street Journal touting some new-home trend, I see it as a sign of mass appeal. Take the story in the May 2 issue about the growing numbers of home buyers who are jumping on the net-zero bandwagon.
Servant leadership emphasizes an increased service to others, a holistic approach, promoting a sense of community and the sharing of power in decision making. Such leaders see power and authority as ways of helping and inspiring others to grow, not for exploiting, ruling or taking advantage. At its core, servant leadership is a long term approach to life and work, which has the potential for creating positive change throughout society with a focus on ethical behavior and a concern for subordinates. (Greenleaf, 1977, Greenleaf & Spears, 2002, Ndoria, 2004, Ehrhart, 2004)
The late Roger Caras, president emeritus of the ASPCA, once said, “Dogs are not our whole lives, but they make our lives whole.” No dog lover would disagree, and now architects are chiming in with a new art exhibit called Architecture for Dogs.
My eight-year-old son was asked recently about what I do. After describing my activities, typing on the computer and talking on the phone, he finally told his classmate, “He’s a magazine guy.” I find this amusing because I don’t think of myself as just a magazine guy. Frankly, the focus around our office is home building. We spend a lot of time at industry events, with our ears to the ground, attempting to discern movements in this incredible business. It’s a big job. 
Very few industry trade shows exude a raw enthusiasm and excitement like the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show. Last month in New Orleans, the lift in the overall residential construction market was quite palpable. So I asked many of the show attendees how they managed through the downturn, and if they are seeing more and better jobs now that home building and remodeling are stronger. The number of kitchen designers and custom builders who challenged the premise of my question—that their businesses must have experienced a decline over the past few years—struck me.
It’s well known that Frank Lloyd Wright-designed homes, while they’re architectural masterpieces, often have structural issues such as leaky roofs. Wright also disdained such modern must-haves as large kitchens and abundant storage.

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