President

Scott Sedam, president of TrueNorth Development (www.truen.com), spends most of his time working in the trenches with builders, suppliers and trade contractors. His Lean Builder blog appears weekly at HousingZone.com. He welcomes your feedback at scott@truen.com.

Last week’s big announcement of the merger of StanPac and Ryland Group, creating a new member of the Top 5 Homebuilders, spawned a flurry of articles and blogs, most of them suggesting the kingdom

The shortage of qualified trade contractors is a problem that vexes the entire industry and finally people are waking up to it, largely for the wrong reasons.

So who's going to build entry-level? Great question, but until it's solved, everyone else building the move-ups will see their opportunities restricted.

One of my “guilty pleasures” – you know, things that you should be embarrassed to admit you love – is the John Travolta movie, The Phenomenon.

During Operation Desert Storm in the early 90s, France’s decision to not support the U.S. intervention revived an old joke from the World War II era.  

It has been long been said that “homebuilding is a local business” and as much as I’d like to think that Lean always transcends locality, that is not always the case. Last week during one of our LeanWeek events in Austin, the head of a drywall installation company asked about using 54” width drywall—aka “stretch board”—in lieu of standard 48” widths for 9’ ceilings. Nine foot ceilings are rampant in Austin and so many other markets these days—unless of course they are 10’.

I wrote my first article on the coming trade shortages last October about the perils and politics of immigration policy. I wrote the second one in December providing a 10-step immunization plan to protect a builder from the effects of trade shortages. I receive so much mail, pro and con, that for February I published two of the best letters and commented on them.

When I travel with my wife, or sometimes just run to the grocery, cleaners or hardware store, she frequently has to remind me, “Scott, remember, you are NOT in charge here.” Many of you fellow Leanistas know the drill. You hardly ever see a restaurant, a checkout, a meat counter at the supermarket, a parking lot or God help us a TSA line at the airport – in our out – that we could not spend 5 minutes rearranging and save folks a ton of time and money.

My December column just came out on HousingZone.com and you can read it here: http://www.housingzone.com/scott-sedam-how-do-you-lead-leader or in the Professional Builder magazine.

I travel this country meeting with builders virtually every week and between my monthly Professional Builder article, my weekly blog on HouzingZone.com and our Lean Building Group on Linkedin.com, I hear from many more. As housing is picking up in most parts of the nation, I am beginning to hear a lot about labor shortages. Just last week I received a note from a builder lamenting how in central Florida there is a bidding war for framers and drywall contractors. I have also heard it coming out of Texas.

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