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The Home Depot is dedicated year-round to providing builders, remodelers and other contractors with a customized shopping experience that helps them save time and money. This particular time of year is unique for retailers – perhaps even more so for companies like The Home Depot that also serve professional customers. With the holidays and Black Friday shopping fast approaching, we are offering a customized, pre-Black Friday collection of savings for our Pro customers available today, Nov. 20, through Dec. 3. 
Collaboration is far and away one of my favorite aspects of the building industry. In fact the practice of Lean Design demands collaboration between the architect or designer and the building team to eliminate waste and maximize appeal. This week we are exploring a Lean Design that was created for an urban infill lot. Mike Miller of Mike Miller Building Company in Northville, Michigan and I designed the home in collaboration. We worked together to maximize the space and efficiency of the plan while implementing some of today’s hotter trends. Let’s take a closer look:
Day in and day out, you’re faced with challenges – finding skilled labor, differentiating yourself from competitors and navigating ever-changing regulations. With so many pressing business details to focus on, it’s more important than ever to find and maximize efficiencies to maintain profitability. All trade professionals and contractors need to position their businesses for long-term success while still achieving profitable growth in the short term. Specialized budget and time-saving programs can change the dynamics of your business and give you the competitive advantages you need.
Repairing or remodeling a bathroom that meets and exceeds a client’s expectations while staying on budget can be a challenging and time-consuming task. It’s important to find a balance between demonstrating product knowledge to help guide clients and leveraging retailers like The Home Depot to help you save time and money.   Position yourself for success by using the latest bath remodeling trends to identify opportunities to suggest modern, on-trend upgrades while also minimizing the time it takes to complete the job.  
After Superstorm Sandy’s storm surge damaged much of their home, the Santos family raised the structure 12 feet. But it’s not the house-on-stilts look you’ve come to expect.
Process, well love it or hate it we NEED IT! It may not be exciting creating it, setting it up, but process is so very important. I thought the following quote from Tom Peters put it perfectly, especially for our industry.
Last year, nearly 30 percent of new homes in the U.S. had partial or full basements, according to the Census Bureau’s Survey of Construction. The heaviest concentration continues to be in the Northeast and Midwest, where more than 70 percent of new homes were built atop basements.
The 2015 National Housing Quality Award recipients are: DSLD of LA, Gold EYA of MD, Gold French Brothers of NM, Silver These are great examples of builders driving excellence in every aspect of their business. There is a feature article about these winners and their journeys at this link: http://www.probuilder.com/home-building-striving-continuous-improvement
A key factor of insulation system performance is the installation.
When addressing the increasingly stringent new building codes, avoid overlooking the simple solutions that can directly contribute to sustainable, energy-efficient building performance. For today’s building professionals, the popular saying holds true: work smarter—not harder. One simple and effective solution I recommend incorporating into the building process is joint tape. Today’s joint tape products represent a high-impact, low-cost solution that can help meet new energy code requirements.
Regardless of the season, decks have become an extension of the home. Many homeowners want to expand the footprint of their entertainment space by allowing the home to flow out onto the deck. This opens new opportunities for contractors to provide more amenities than they would otherwise consider when creating a deck project.
“Breakthrough means change, a dynamic, decisive movement to new, higher levels of performance……..Breakthrough is, then, the creation of good (or at least, necessary) changes, whereas control is the prevention of bad changes. Each is necessary for survival and health of the company. Through lack of control, the company heads for its doom slowly, in an atmosphere of constant turmoil, irritation and abrasion. Through lack of breakthrough, though all may be serene internally, the company is headed for some swift, mortal shocks.”   Juran, Managerial Breakthrough, 1964, p 2 & 4
Since 2006, the North American Deck & Railing Association has annually promoted “Deck Safety Month” each spring. The program raises awareness among consumers about the need to inspect their deck and can help them prepare for the outdoor entertaining season. Homeowners and/or past clients who are assessing the safety of their decks may ask a contractor to provide a more thorough inspection.
“Of the primary goals of Quality, Cost and Delivery, Quality should always have the highest priority. No matter how attractive the price and delivery terms offered to the customer, the company will not be able to compete if the product or service lacks quality.  Practicing a Quality First credo requires management commitment because managers often face the temptation to make compromises in meeting delivery requirements or cutting costs. In doing so, they risk sacrificing not only quality, but the life of the business as well.”     Masaaki Imai, Gemba Kaizen, 1997, p6
This link will take you to the Pence & Freese 2010 Baldrige Application (They earned the Baldrige Award for Performance Excellence for the small business category)  The application at the below link is 50 pages of amazing insights to how this company applies quality management.
Deck projects can expand to include a wide range of applications, such as light-commercial projects at restaurants or hotels as well as a variety of marina and dock projects near waterways. The possibilities can be seen in a recent dock project completed by Innovative Marine Solutions Inc. of Breiningsville, Pa. The project involved a dock system for a facility in North Wildwood, N.J. IMS crews installed a custom dock, gangway and aluminum substrate by combining the panelized fastening system from TimberStrong with deck boards from NyloDeck in its “Desert Spice” color.
Expanding homeowners’ outdoor living spaces has become one of the top remodeling projects. The projects often involve upgrades to better-quality materials, which usually means considering the variety of composite and alternative-material deck boards on the market. Composites can provide low maintenance and longer life. But they’re not all created equal. Here are key tips to consider when helping homeowners decide on the best choice for their project.
Outdoor living spaces are expanding, with larger decks and more attention to the entire yard. This trend gives homeowners ways to extend their entertaining spaces. As projects expand their scope, contractors can suggest amenities that add value while making their proposal more attractive.
May has been declared “Deck Safety Month” by the North American of Deck & Railing Association, a program the group started in 2006. Today, homeowners are more aware of the need to keep their deck safe, but they often don’t know what that entails. Knowing what they can do to be safe can help create a closer bond with customers—and bring in more business.
Perhaps two of the most famous quotes related to strategic planning are: ‘In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.’ Dwight D. Eisenhower and ‘No strategy survives first contact with the enemy.’  Moltke the Elder.

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