Another one bites the dust!

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Train Wreck

A train wreck waiting to happen-

By Paul Lesieur  Minneapolis Remodeler

The remodeling industry is a wild and varied culture, you have Mom and Pop companies that do very well and much larger and more highly leveraged companies all taking a share of the same pie. Industry standards vary from company to company with the personalities of the owners having as much to do with a companies success as the quality of the work produced. Larger companies can market to create a perception of value selling at a higher price and do quite well without putting a face on the company. The smaller companies can more easily respond to changes in the clients moods and many times deliver a project at a lower price point and they have the advantage of being more like the people they sell to. In other words, who you see is what you get.

In this diverse industry we have professional organizations that commit to raising standards and create an awareness to the public that an organization member delivers a better product, is more stable and would generally be more ethical, but is this the truth?

Truth in advertising is hard to qualify. I am a member of 3 professional organizations, the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, the National Kitchen and Bath Association and the National Association of Home Builders. In these groups I have met some truly remarkable people, including tradespeople, vendors and associate members such as marketing and sales consultants. I have met good people and met some shysters. Not much different than your typical church or government group.

Recently one of these organizations had a highly placed member close down his business, who knows the reason. Did he grow his business to his failure point? Maybe, or was it the economy? Who cares, the business is gone and hopefully the closing did not affect anyone in a negative way. But this does raise questions. How effective are these groups in enforcing their supposedly higher standards, and do these standards affect all members in the same way?

I am one of the smaller companies and have ridden the high and low points our industry has experienced. As an idealist with a hope for an equitable group experience I joined the national organizations with the expectation that all things would be equal. That wasn’t the case. Every group has its directors and its the job of the directors to see the shareholders get their moneys worth. The recent bank failures and auto industry troubles have proven that although the directors have done very well it has been at the expense of the shareholders. Favoritism and inside deals have sweetened the pot for the few at the top and left the cleanup to those at the bottom. I wonder if this isn’t the case for my trade group.

Having been in business for many years, some good and some not so good I have managed to make it this far by delivering a decent product and being fair and ethical to my clients, no one is left holding the bag for my company. The recent demise of one of my groups leaders may be nothing more than a change of scenery for the company owner, although I doubt that. The reality is that this company, which swore to uphold the best values for my profession, hit the wall and once again I will have to defend my profession. Are they bad people? No, they just didn’t have what it takes to be the leaders they thought they were. Will my professional group do damage control, yes they will have to! Its disappointing and regrettable that once again an obviously visible proponent of a group dedicated to raise the bar in my industry has proven to be the type of entity he was trying to exclude.

In summary, should this organization be punished for its laxity in monitoring its members? No, I don’t believe so, but the question remaining is, are these organizations really building better businesses?
Yes they are. The actions of a few should not affect the group as a whole, the fact that a leader found himself in the exact predicament that he suggested only happened to others less sophisticated than himself just means we need to pick our leaders more carefully.

MN Contractor – Paul Lesieur

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