Latest Articles in COLUMN

  • Those who ignore the knowledge, buying power and participation of women in the home improvement marketplace, a longtime male-dominated niche market, do so to their economic peril. The Lowe's home improvement chain set out to prove this premise about five years ago and came up not pink, not green, but golden. The blue's answer to Home Depot's well-established orange, which included wider aisles,... more »
  • People have called me a cynic. And given today's economic environment, I am certainly a realist. A recent panel presentation held in conjunction with the Remodeling Show in Baltimore, however, gave me pause, and suggested to me that perhaps I should improve my attitude. The session, hosted by Ply-Gem Windows, featured window dealers enjoying increased sales despite the tough times. One key... more »
  • "I want a job like yours where I can get paid to write about what I did for my summer vacation," my son remarked. He was responding to my comments that I thought there were elements of Roman architecture, both ancient and medieval, that were relevant to today's development of U.S. building codes, and that I thought I would mention them in my next column for this magazine. We had just... more »
  • So it's ugly out there, no doubt, but I'm sort of sick of talking about it. That's not to say I won't continue talking about this wretched economy, but I've decided to give myself a Time Out. I'm done talking about how terrible the economy is. For a minute anyway. Maybe two. It's hard to remember what's so terrible with the state of the Union when I just spent more than a month getting to know... more »
  • By the time you’re reading this, the Beijing Summer Olympics will have long since closed. But as I write this, we’re deep into Olympic obsession mode (at least my household is). I know the Olympics themselves are now yesterday’s news, but if you’ll indulge a gal a bit, I’m hoping to strike up a conversation about China. About four years ago, not long after I first... more »
  • It's no secret that small and large businesses are shifting marketing resources from print to online activities that can add value beyond lead generation. Local search marketing, including pay-per-click advertising on search engines, is the leading interactive medium for retailers and dealers. Growth in revenues at newspaper and local television station Web sites indicates many companies are... more »
  • The past several months, I have been feeling bombarded with headlines about housing market woes, a lackluster economy and the rising costs of gas. Throw in the industry-specific reports of another window or door plant that's closed down, it can get depressing. When so many headlines are gloomy, it's a real pleasure to put the focus on new products and technologies that highlight creativity and... more »
  • Last March I suggested in this column that the handwringing over the housing slump and the general recession that many were sure it would bring were overwrought. Let's see, some six months later, where all that stands.In essence, the jury is still out. True, the housing crunch and its economic downturn have reached epic proportions and remain the highlight of campaigns for Presidential hopefuls.... more »
  • While it's nice to ask customers “how are we doing?” it’s important to track how your competitors are doing too
    What is your competitive advantage? I have been asking that question frequently in my recent market research with building materials companies. Amazingly, the answers are generally all the same.Here is a brief summary: Our culture, our quality, our experience and our people. The “four feel goods” account for 95 percent of all responses.This begs the question–If everyone has the... more »
  • Many public comments submitted related to energy conservation
    The last opportunity to submit proposed revised language for the 2009 International Codes passed in June with the deadline for public comments. Comments were limited to those topics already addressed by code change proposals that were submitted in 2007 and heard during the International Code Council code development hearings in Palm Springs in February 2008. ICC received over 1,000 public... more »