So much lies ahead, no reason to look back

By Bob Miodonski Publisher and Editorial Director In my time at CONTRACTOR, I've addressed you on an industry issue in this space every month since March 1994. For those of you scoring at home, that's 162 Editorials, including this month's. I thank those of you who have read most of what I've had to say and continue to subscribe to the magazine. For those who have read every single one of them, please

By Bob Miodonski
Publisher and Editorial Director

In my time at CONTRACTOR, I've addressed you on an industry issue in this space every month since March 1994. For those of you scoring at home, that's 162 Editorials, including this month's.

I thank those of you who have read most of what I've had to say and continue to subscribe to the magazine. For those who have read every single one of them, please look me up sometime and I'll buy you a beer.

This is my final Editorial for CONTRACTOR. I've accepted a position with another publishing company, and I'm looking forward to the opportunities ahead.

I leave the magazine on good terms and in good hands. You'll be reading the perspective of veteran CONTRACTOR editor Bob Mader next month in this space. The new management at Penton Media is investing in the magazine and its complementary properties, such as www.contractormag.com, the monthly CONTRACTOR e-zine and our Comfortech RoadShows.

I've written a farewell Editorial a time or two in my career for other publications, and the temptation always is to look back through the years. With all you've got to look forward to, however, I don't see the point of any of us dwelling in the past.

Depending on where you are in the contracting market, you have at least one of these three issues to get your juices going:

Green building. When MCAA President — and long-time green-building advocate — Dave Kruse sent us a letter to the editor for our April issue, he complimented us on an Editorial I had written in February on the green movement. He wrote, "For those of us who have been urging this for years, it is wonderful to see such widespread recognition in your magazine."

One side of me wants to shout that we were way ahead of the curve on this one; we were encouraging you to install environmentally friendly products and systems as far back as 1994, long before the green bandwagon started rolling. The bigger side of me realizes that it's wonderful that so many companies are jumping on the bandwagon now for the same reasons we've been saying all along: It's the right thing to do and it's good for your business.

Home improvement. I've mentioned a time or two before here that my wife is single-handedly trying to keep the remodeling market a˚oat with the various bath-and-kitchen projects that she has contracted out at our house. She's not alone, of course.

From "This Old House" to "Trading Spaces" to the entire HGTV network, TV programs have cashed in on the home-improvement craze and spurred it on. Many of you have found business in this burgeoning niche, and the trend lines are only heading up. The aging of both the nation's housing stock and baby-boomers such as myself are most responsible for the growth. Do-it-yourselfers are being replaced by the do-it-for-me generations, and you stand to benefit as more customers look for competent contractors who can transform their home-improvement dreams into reality.

Residential fire sprinklers. The resistance from builders to having sprinklers installed in their new homes is softening. Unfortunately, this is happening at the same time as the residential new construction market is slumping, so the growth of sprinklers in homes has hit a bump.

This will be temporary. As more municipalities insist on residential fire sprinklers in their building codes, this market will take off. The concern of many fire sprinkler contractors is that plumbers will seize on this opportunity and edge them out. The more philosophical among them say that whoever does the installation — be it sprinkler or plumbing contractor — must be properly trained to do the job correctly. The end results are saving lives and reducing property damage, so poorly done work is unacceptable.

Your business will benefit from these trends only if you are prepared for them. You have to keep up to date with what is going on in our industry and continue to educate yourself on how to run a profitable business with loyal customers and dedicated employees.

I hope you consider CONTRACTOR to be an important part of the information and education process, and will continue to do so. If you haven't done it already, you really should look into the additional benefits that you would gain from joining a trade association such as PHCC and MCAA or a best-practices group.

I've enjoyed my years at CONTRACTOR, in large part because I've learned a good deal about business and life from many of you. Thanks for the knowledge and information you've shared with me.