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Congratulations go out to Iris Harrell and her Mountain View, Calif., remodeling company. Harrell Remodeling was recently named by Inc. magazine as one of the top workplaces in the country. The editors recognized Iris and her company for the Employee Stock Ownership Plan they have in place, amongst other successes. You can read more at Inc.'s website.
The 2011 Housing Giants Ranking Report shows that the Housing Giants are taking advantage of this slow period to focus on what they see is the top opportunity, working on improving operational efficiencies to boost profit margins. (Professional Builder Magazine, May 2011, p 28-44)
So I don't know what to make of this one, posted earlier today on HousingZone:BuildFax Remodeling Index Shows Top April on Record. I'd love to believe it's true -- that we're really seeing remodeling activity hit it's highest mark since 2004. Everybody else seems to be projecting a slowdown, although the anecdotal evidence I'm hearing supports the idea of a surge this spring.
The impact of quality management on home builders is dramatic. For example of builders that used the National Housing Quality Award criteria to help drive their business performance and went on to win NHQA recognition, 94% are still in business despite the recession. The use of Quality Management Systems (QMS) has also shown significant impact. A study conducted by Duncan Prahl of IBACOS, Serge Ogranovitch of The Potomack Group and Denis Leonard of Business Excellence Consulting, focused on the impact of QMS and its impact.
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. -- This spring offered the opportunity for Professional Builder editors to make educational presentations in 30 markets around the country. We supplied the builder-segment education for the series of Pro Expos sponsored by a coalition of building industry partners.
Got to spend some time over at the Bosch headquarters yesterday. To show off the toughness of their new line of drills, they dropped two of them 532 feet from a hovering helicopter. It may not have been a practical application, but I was pretty impressed. You can see video I shot of the demo below.
A tool referred to as the “Quality Life Cycle” provides a strategic mechanism to chart and sustain quality while proactively countering shortcomings of its implementation, such as stagnation and limited application, which can ultimately result in failure. The quality life cycle was developed as part of a UK and US research study, allows for the characterization and visualization of the various complex stages and dynamics of quality. It allows charting of not only the current status of quality in an organization but also its historical development or life cycle.
All the remodelers out there who thought that the EPA RRP lead paint rules weren’t going to be enforced may want to think again. The EPA announced in May it would be pursuing action against a Rockland, Maine, remodeler for alleged violation of the RRP rules. The EPA has said that Colin Wentworth is facing fines of at least $150,000 for multiple violations.
There are many ways to determine how successful a process or project is. These methods normally involve detailed metrics and may include cycle-time reduction, number of process steps and customer satisfaction. The more improvement projects there are, however, the more difficult it is to monitor their progress, especially in relation to one another and at a high level. 
Lead paint continues to be getting a lot of buzz, what with the NAHB's lawsuit against EPA, the first fine coming down last week and more. Here's my video update on the latest developments. We'll also have more on lead paint in the June issue of Professional Remodeler, mailing soon.
At a time when the housing industry is facing a severe glut of inventory, depressed real-estate values, tighter lending standards, and a lethargic path toward recovery, it seems ludicrous to even mention the terms “lot” and “shortage” in sequence.
As the broad range of topics discussed in this blog clearly shows, Quality Management involves a wide range of issues. Perhaps the National Housing Quality Award criteria best reflects this. It covers Leadership, Strategic Planning, Performance Management, Customer Satisfaction, Human Resources, Construction Quality, Trade Relationships and Business Results. So where to start your Quality journey?  This fishbone diagram was developed with IBACOS for the DOE Expert Meeting on Quality Management Tools and Integration for High Performance Homes in October 2010.
POSTED 5/19/2011 So for all those remodelers who thought there was no reason to follow the EPA's lead RRP rules? Yeah, you might want to think about that again. The EPA has cited a Maine remodeler for not properly following the rules after two of his employees were recorded removing paint from a home with power tools and without containing the waste properly. It's the first EPA action under the rules that went into effect last year.
We all have a long list of improvement projects we would like to work on. The problem is picking which to focus on now and which to leave until later, it is all about the resources available. This is a simple tool to help prioritize. Consider the ease or difficulty of implementing your projects, for example the number of people involved how long it will take. Then the impact or benefit from each using this matrix, this might be the potential increase in customer satisfaction, reduction in defects or cycle time. Note on the table where each of your project lies.
While we’ve spent the better part of the past four years analyzing just how dramatically the housing market has changed during the great bubble burst — shrinking home sizes, historically low housing starts, the glut of foreclosures, more-stringent mortgage requirements, and even the threat of the mortgage-interest deduction going by the wayside — it’s interesting to note how much the housing market remains the same.
The purchasing decisions we make every day aren’t about logic. We’re constantly making emotional decisions to buy or not buy something, whether it be a candy bar, an iPad or a new car. Oh sure, we can come up with plenty of perfectly good reasons why we do these things (“It’s OK, chocolate has antioxidants” or  “I’ll be so much more productive if I have a tablet” or “It gets much better gas mileage”), but the reality is it’s all rationalization.
First off, most companies mix up 360 reviews and employee reviews. 360 reviews involve feedback from peers, superiors, and those the employee manages or that work with him or her at a lower level. This provides a well-rounded (360-degree) perspective. They need to by anonymous (as much as possible) and must provide honest feedback. This includes feedback on negatives, but in such cases they should be provided in a constructive manner and they need to provide some examples or depth to the feedback.
Missed our recent webinar with Rich Harshaw on “Micro-Marketing Strategies for Remodelers: How Narrowing Your Prospect List Can Increase Your Results”? You can check out the archive here.
Theory of Constraints is based on the premise that the rate of achievement is limited by at least one constraining process. Only by increasing flow through the constraint can overall throughput be increased. Assuming the goal of the organization has been established then the steps are:
New-home sales guru and Professional Builder columnist Bob Schultz is conducting a free sales and marketing webinar tomorrow at 2 pm EDT, titled “Bootstrap Sales and Marketing for Builders.” Schultz says that even in this slow market thousands of buyers are out there looking for new homes every day. It's important to build a sales presentation that tells your story and puts your homes in the best possible light.

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