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A Renovation Barometer, from Houzz

BY HBSDealer Staff

Labor continues to pose a top challenge for renovation-focused firms, with nearly four in five general contractors, remodelers and design-build firms reporting moderate-to-severe shortages across a wide range of skilled trades.

That’s one of the findings from the first-quarter “Houzz Renovation Barometer.” But despite the tight labor market, there’s widespread confidence in market growth.

The barometer produced readings of 68-75 in the first quarter of 2016 (Jan.-Mar.), which are 6%-10% higher for architects and designers, 14%-17% higher for general contractors /remodelers and design-build firms, and 9%-26% higher for specialty firms than Q4 2015 scores.

The readings for Q1 2016 are in line with scores for the same quarter in 2015, with the exception of architects and outdoor specialty firms, which report somewhat weaker confidence in Q1 2016.

The Houzz Renovation Barometer study is conducted quarterly and presents analysis of responses to an online survey sent out to a national U.S. panel of architects, interior designers, general contractors/remodelers, design-build firms, and building/renovation and landscape/outdoor specialties.

“While Barometer readings continue to reflect year-over-year market improvements across industry groups, these gains are somewhat less widespread than those we saw in the same period of 2015,” said Nino Sitchinava, principal economist at Houzz. “Consistent with our projections in the Houzz State of the Industry report at the beginning of the year, we are seeing early evidence that 2016 will be a year of more moderate yet steady growth for residential renovation and design businesses.”

The full report is here.

Labor continues to pose a top challenge for renovation-focused firms, with nearly four in five general contractors, remodelers and design-build firms reporting moderate-to-severe shortages across a wide range of skilled trades, consistent with 2015 Barometer findings.  Three in four firms reporting shortages are hiring employees or subcontractors in those in-demand trades.

In order to attract young workers, the following steps are in play:
• 39%, remodeling-focused companies are offering on-the-job training;
• 21%, leveraging social media to help promote job opportunities to new talent;
• 8%, partnering with local colleges to offer training programs;
• 8%, attending recruiting events; and
• 6%, each for giving talks at local colleges and local schools.

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Disruption alert: Wayfair teams with Porch

BY HBSDealer Staff

Wayfair already describes itself as “one of the world's largest online destinations for home furnishings and décor.”

Now it’s teamed up with Porch.com to help install or assemble what it sells.

Through the Porch Retail Solution, Wayfair.com shoppers who need help with tasks such as furniture assembly and installation of products such as lighting and plumbing will be able to purchase those services at checkout and set an appointment with a qualified Porch professional. The partnership will be available to Wayfair.com customers starting in 15 markets, including Dallas-Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and Chicago, making it more convenient for Wayfair.com customers to complete home improvement and decorating projects from start to finish.

“At Wayfair, we pride ourselves on a customer service-driven retail experience, and with this Porch.com partnership, we are able to offer services that further enhance the shopping experience and make home decorating and renovation easier for our customers, ” said Steve Oblak, senior VP and general manager, Wayfair. “Porch is ideally positioned to deliver quality home installation services through their ever expanding network of background-checked and guaranteed professionals and we look forward to delighting our customers with this enhanced offering.”

Porch is available online, through the Porch App and also through an exclusive deal with Lowe’s – it’s an in-store resource in over 1,720 Lowe’s stores.

“At Porch we are building a network of the highest quality professionals that is helping millions of homeowners get projects done,” said Matt Ehrlichman, CEO and chairman of Porch. “Now in one retail experience, Wayfair.com delivers on the product selection to help shoppers find the right item, and we are delivering on the assembly and installation.”

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Mitek appoints a second director for national builders

BY HBSDEALER Staff

MiTek appointed Trace Biles as a director of national builders and supply chain for MiTek Builder Products.

Biles will focus on sales to large national U.S. home builders. Biles joins Patrick O’Malley, another director of national builders and supply chain, who was appointed in the Fall of 2015.

Previous to arriving at MiTek, Biles was MASCO’s director of national accounts, where he led strategic direction and sales for top-20 national home builders at the corporate, regional, and local levels. Previous to that, Mr. Biles worked at American Woodmark Corp., where he was general manager of the Texas division.

“With his past work with large home builders, Trace brings a highly specialized knowledge to MiTek Builder Products sales efforts,” said Tom Mort, MiTek Builder Products’ senior VP for sales and marketing.  “With the very attractive product programs, technical support, and services we have in place for large home builders, we see increasing opportunities to place MiTek Builder Products with them, and we couldn’t be happier to have Trace as part of the team that leads this effort.”

The company said Biles will be a key team member in furthering interaction between MiTek Builder Products and MiTek’s Residential Supply Chain, which supports builders and the supply chain through the Sapphire Suite of software solutions.

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