Quality is not about tunnel vision, a focus only on the reduction of variation in production alone. Quality is no longer just about the product, but the management of all operations and should be integrated into all aspects of a business. Focusing on every aspect of a business requires a systematic look at an organization to discover how each part relates to the other.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before. 
An article in today’s Wall Street Journal shed light on investors who are buying foreclosed homes, fixing them up, and renting them out. Flippers and speculators were blamed for inflating the housing bubble of the past 10 years; now they’re getting prospective buyers, who are afraid of missing out on cheap homes, off the fence. How times have changed.
The past few years have been excruciating for the National Association of Home Builders’ International Builders’ Show. However, the falling attendance and exhibitor space that has plagued recent shows has stabilized, and the overall mood of the trade show has improved dramatically as remodelers and builders have garnered more business recently.
“I’ve got a 40-page company policy and about 40 Hispanic employees. Any advice when it comes to translation?” This question came at me during the Q&A session following a Landscape Spanish Seminar I hosted outside Chicago last week.   
The courtyard, an ancient concept for bringing natural light into homes while preserving privacy, is in full flower in America today as lots get tighter and the popularity of outdoor rooms increases. Courtyard homes have been around for years in those parts of the U.S. that get plentiful sunlight for a good part of the year (such as California and Colorado). But there’s no reason a home in Massachusetts or Minnesota can’t have one too, as long as it’s designed properly.
Wanted: Woman who could get me out of a third world prison. This is how Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO of, articulated what he was looking for in a wife. Before this explanation, he started with the adjective “resourceful.”  
Last June, Retrofit Chicago’s Commercial Buildings Initiative was launched as part of the Obama Administration’s Better Buildings Challenge. Today 32 buildings are participating in the CBI, a voluntary effort to increase energy efficiency in commercial buildings larger than 200,000 square feet. The goal is to reduce energy use by at least 20 percent within five years.
As I travel the country working with builders I am always on the lookout for emerging trends. There is a hot one cooking right now—decorative ceilings.
In 2008 the Dallas Cowboys were the featured team on HBO’s Hard Knocks. Hard Knocks is the reality documentary series that takes you behind the scenes during an NFL training camp.
Yesterday I attended a Construction and Safety Expo outside Chicago. General contractors, Sub-contractors and Safety Suppliers were dishing on their skills, networking and drinking by noon.  
A little off the beaten path—but well worth the drive—is Mason City, Iowa, home to the last standing Frank Lloyd Wright hotel. My partner and I had the pleasure of staying at the Historic Park Inn last week. The 1910 landmark is so named because of its location across the street from Mason City’s Central Park.
Do you remember the last time you received a piece of personal U.S. mail (not counting bills)? According to a recent study, the average American receives a piece of personalized U.S. Mail every six to seven weeks – and this includes birthday, holiday and other family generated cards. Wow, what a metamorphosis in personal communications in the past 20 years!
A question that regularly arises is how to sustain quality management or to put it another way, what are the reasons for quality management failing?  There have been two significant studies on this issue and their findings cited the following obstacles. Lack of leadership for quality Lack of planning for quality Inadequate resources for quality Inadequate human resources development and management Lack of customer focus
As a self-confessed Frank Lloyd Wright dork, you would think I already knew about the Historic Park Inn in Mason City, Iowa—the last remaining Wright-designed hotel on the planet. But it wasn’t until I received my copy of Arts and Crafts Homes magazine that I learned about this national treasure. Originally built in 1910, the Park Inn Hotel was recently restored to all its Prairie School glory. The hotel has 27 guest rooms, one of which has been renovated in period style complete with the original claw-foot tub.
As we closed the books on 2012, many readers reported to Professional Remodeler that business has been picking up steam, according to a survey conducted in late 2012. Forty-six percent of remodelers reported their 2012 revenue increased compared with 2011; 20 percent reported no change in their revenue 2012 versus 2011, according to “Forecast Looking a Little Brighter,” which appeared in the December 2012 issue of Professional Remodeler. As for 2013, nearly 80 percent of respondents expect 2013 to be the same or better than 2012.
In late October, Hurricane Sandy destroyed much of the Eastern Seaboard. In the days following the superstorm, Professional Remodeler was on the phone with remodelers located in the devastated aftermath asking them what, if anything, they could do to help residents impacted by this natural disaster. Many remodelers reached out to their customer base in an effort to assess damage, which primarily consisted of roof damage to residential and commercial properties caused by high wind and uprooted or fallen trees.
A good friend of mine who is also a 40-year veteran of the construction industry has taught me a lot about relationships over the past few years. He has been a tireless advocate of relationships his entire life, spending countless hours working, molding, and shaping both his personal and professional contacts. I have to admit, I admire the amount of time and effort he puts into his relationships, and it’s paid off tremendously. Often times I’ve walked with him on a jobsite, a tradeshow floor, or visiting a contractor’s office, and everyone knows him.
This past summer, staff members of Professional Remodeler convened in a conference room on the outskirts of Chicago to review this year’s Design Awards. Sorting through a few hundred entries over the course of a day and a half is a Herculean effort to say the least. So we enlisted the help of our remodeling friends: Gino Benvenuti, owner, Benvenuti & Stein; Craig Durosko, founder and chairman, Sun Design; Tom Kelly, owner, the Neill Kelly Co.; and Michael Klement, principal, Architectural Resource Inc.
Many of you are looking at this editorial page and probably wondering: Where’s Jonathan? And who is this new guy? Recently, long-time Professional Remodeler Editor in Chief Jonathan Sweet decided to take on another position in publishing outside of the construction industry, one that would allow him to return to his roots in Minnesota.


Overlay Init