TotalHousehold aims to streamline the process of hiring contractors
Former hedge fund manager Jeff LaCava is setting his sights on the startup realm: specifically that of the remodeling industry, where there’s opportunity to bring digital tools into the contractor selection process.
TotalHousehold.com is an Angie’s-list type website where homeowners can go to find local home contractors, share their experiences and access an online forum related to home improvement topics. The site also features a dedicated blogroll, an evolving contractor FAQ and more.
The site works both ways, however, with contractors marketing their services via profile pages that include project galleries, client reviews, videos, testimonials and promotions.
LaCava was inspired to build the site after trying his hand at home improvement — he flipped four homes since his first purchase in his twenties, but realized that finding professionals wasn’t an easy process.
“As a homeowner, I was always frustrated that there wasn’t a reliable online resource I could use to research both a contractor’s credentials and customer ratings and reviews,” said LaCava. “The ones that do exist either do a disservice to the homeowner, the contractor or both. At TotalHousehold, we recognize that those are two distinct groups with different needs, but that they also depend on each other. Our mission is to make all manner of home improvement more efficient for both.”
The home improvement industry is taking some strides toward digitizing and streamling the consumer experience. Other recent examples include the BulbFinder tool from Bulbs.com, which helps customers pick the right bulbs for their lighting needs.
As a means of setting itself apart, TotalHousehold promises zero in the way of a subscription fee and no unwanted calls from contractors.
Kansas City region sees beginnings of new IKEA location
Construction is now underway for a new Merriam, Kan. IKEA location. With the erection of the steel structure underway, the building is slated for completion in fall of 2014.
“It is exciting to see the steel frame of an IKEA store take shape," said Mike Ward, IKEA U.S. president. "So we are very pleased that the construction progress keeps us on track to open our Kansas City-area store next fall. We know that IKEA Merriam will meet the home furnishings needs of customers throughout Kansas, Missouri and beyond who have not had an IKEA store close enough to them to allow for more frequent visits. We are glad construction is going smoothly on our plans to bring IKEA to the heartland of America.”
The Kansas City-area store will measure 359,000 sq. ft. on an 18.4-acre lot along the eastern side of I-35 and Johnson Drive.
Customers can expect to find approximately 10,000 products within its confines, as well as 50 room-settings, three model home interiors, a supervised children’s play area and a restaurant serving up the requisite IKEA offerings.
The new location is set to add 500 jobs during its construction, as well as 300 positions within IKEA upon completion. Seventy food-service jobs will also be available within the Restaurant, Swedish Foodmarket, Cafe Bistro and coworker cafe.
Unique to the area will be a geothermal system — the largest in Kansas and Missouri — to provide heating and cooling to the store.
Home Depot retools the Husky brand
The Home Depot house brand has a new look, and according to the company, some new quality control.
Jim Recore, divisional merchandise manager for private brands at The Home Depot describes the Husky brand as one of about four that are “absolutely key to the success of our private label program.”
Home Depot changed the color emphasis — from red to black — and also some improvements to the grips and handles and overall design of the tools.
As part of the normal course of business, the Depot merchants took a look at their offering. “We took a deep dive,” said Recore. “And there was some feedback that we weren’t happy with from our customers and associates.”
Compared with red, the new black color has the advantage of appearing cleaner to the naked eye, even when dirty, Recore said. But more importantly, the color announces the change to the consumer, he said.
The Husky brand dates back to the 1920s and the Husky Wrench company of Milwaukee. After nearly a century of buyouts and mergers, Home Depot acquired the brand name from Stanley about a decade ago.
In the last year and a half, the brand launched air tools, low-vibration sanders, a “reactionless” air ratchet, and stepped-up tool storage, Recore said.
“We really have not moved pricing substantially,” he added.
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