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

Success through collaboration

When you look at your trade contractors, your suppliers, product distributors, what do you see?

Are they a line item, an expense, a necessary evil or are they true partners?

It’s easy to look at your drywall guy, your lumber yard or your window supplier as someone with which you simply do business with, but finding new ways to partner can be an important way to succeed.

While the market seems to taking a slow turn for the better lately, it’s still tough out there, and most companies need all the help they can get.

Sometimes it’s simply about respect or even the language you use. Is your roofer, your concrete contractor, your plumber a “subcontractor” or a “trade partner”? As I learned from my time covering concrete contractors, that distinction really matters to many trades.

And, frankly, you should demand respect for your company. Ask your suppliers and the product manufacturers you deal with how they can help you drive business.

The remodeling business has never been more important to these companies. After years of being an afterthought compared to new home builders, remodelers are finally getting some notice. Take advantage of that.

An interesting pilot program is one that the Case Institute of Remodeling (an offshoot of Bethesda, Md., remodeler Case/Design Remodeling) is undertaking.

The institute is working with several manufacturers to give contractors free access to the Institute’s wealth of business management information. It’s just one example of the type of service you should be demanding. (Full disclosure: Professional Remodeler doesn’t have a stake in the Institute, but we do have a business relationship with Case co-chairman Mark Richardson.)

“Collaboration,” by the way, is going to be an important theme at this month’s Kitchen & Bath Industry Show April 24-26 in Chicago. The show will feature a “Collaboration Station” highlighting the importance of contractors, designers and installers working together.

NARI, NKBA and CEDIA are coming together to promote taking a collaborative approach to business and the area will be open throughout the three days of the show. Members of the three associations will also be taking part in seven panel discussions that will address specific ways companies can work together in areas such as energy efficiency, universal design and integrating technology.

I, along with our editorial director Patrick O’Toole, will be moderating those discussions, and based on our preparations, I’m sure it’ll be well worth your while to attend.

Go to kbis.com for more information on topics and schedule and be sure to stop by if you come to KBIS this year.

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