Jonathan Sweet is the editor in chief of Professional Remodeler, an award-winning trade publication for remodelers and home improvement contractors. He started his career covering homes and small businesses at a daily newspaper and has spent more than a decade writing for several construction trade publications including Qualified Remodeler, Construction Pro and Concrete Contractor+Jonathan Sweet

Reason to believe in recovery

A preview of our February issue:

I’ve just gotten back from the International Builders Show, the industry’s big show for all things residential.
I’ve been going to the show since 2000 and this was easily the smallest one yet. That’s the bad news. The good news is that it was also the most optimistic I’ve seen people at the show since the housing boom.
2009 was sort of the year of shell-shock — the realization that after the financial market crashed and burned in the fall of 2008, this was not going to be an easy recovery. A real sense of “Where do we go from here?” Last year, the sense I got was one of “We’ve survived, but we’re hunkering down.”
This year, I actually heard some optimism, especially about the remodeling market. Building product manufacturers see remodeling as a real bright spot. Many of them told me that the early signs (such as inquiries and product shipped) are positive for 2011.
The remodelers are optimistic, too. Most of the ones I talked to in Orlando (and those I talk to everyday) are seeing surprising strength in the market, with stronger-than-usual demand last November and December and early this year.
There’s plenty of reason for long-term optimism, too.  At the same time, there’s a realization that it won’t be the same as it was during the boom.
Clients can be more picky now. More and more we’re part of a “reputation economy” as GuildQuality founder Geoff Graham puts it in our February cover story.
This month we talked to Graham and several remodelers about how tracking customer satisfaction can improve the bottom line. In this new era of remodeling, that’s more important than ever. Clients are going to give feedback and wouldn’t you rather get it on a customer service survey before it shows up on Facebook, Angie’s List, Twitter or somewhere else?
That’s just one example of how the market is changing and we’re continually working to help you navigate those changes.
That’s why I’m so excited to announce that longtime industry guru Mark Richardson is joining the Professional Remodeler team. Mark’s experience in the industry makes him a welcome addition to the pages of the magazine.
Mark, the co-chairman of Case Design/Remodeling, will be writing a monthly column for us starting next month, as well as contributing Web video and other content. But more importantly, he’ll be working closely with the editorial team to help us address the issues remodelers care about.
It’s just one part of a brighter future for us here at Professional Remodeler and the entire remodeling industry.

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