Patrick L. O’Toole is editorial director and publisher of Professional Builder, a 77-year-old publication that is read by 112,000 builders each month. In this capacity, he is also responsible for the editorial direction of Professional Remodeler magazine and HousingZone.com. Previously, O’Toole served as editor and publisher of Qualified Remodeler magazine. He started his career as a reporter for the Associated Press in Chicago. He holds a B.A. from Miami University and a masters degree in journalism from Columbia College.
1. Forget about it.
(For those in the Northeast, fuggedaboudit.)
Typically associated with senility and soft-mindedness, forgetting may be an asset in the coming months and years. Builders and remodelers must somehow purge the memory of the go-go housing market of 1995 to 2006. We will not see its like again for some time. But the memories of easy sales, fast turns of inventory, and lotteries to buy homes in new communities are strong.
I agree with Mark Richardson, our new columnist on Professional Remodeler and Custom Builder magazines. As keynote speaker at the ProExpos by Pella held in 30 cities this spring, he is telling attendees to forget the good-old days because we are now getting to the point where it is a hindrance to our thinking. Too many people are still mentally on the sidelines, waiting for the market to come back. Evaluate today’s market and local conditions with a clear, fresh set of eyes.
2. Eliminate waste.
Your company may be lean when it comes to personnel. Most firms have reduced headcount in recent years. But a rigorous analysis of your operations with an eye toward eliminating needless steps will lower your costs and potentially allow you to meet the market with a lower, more profitable price.
Former Pulte Quality czar and current Lean Management guru Scott Sedam has conducted 65 Lean blitzes at home building firms around the United States and has found that, on average, home builders can eliminate $8,400 on each home they build simply by collaborating with trade partners and designers in searching for areas where needless steps and extra materials creep into the process. To learn the basics of Lean Building see our Top Ten list on for getting started with Lean, http://www.housingzone.com/hz/article/top-ten-feature-10-steps-adopt-lean-building or you can send an e-mail to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.