The United States of Home Improvement
In this wide, expansive nation of ours, there’s an even wider variety of perspectives, climates and local histories to contend with. There are also major regional differences in homeowner behaviors.
For a better understanding of these state-by-state differences, Porch.com — the online platform that matches homeowners with home improvement professionals — created an infographic that tapped into its vast collection of data. Here is a peek.
Though residential construction was a fairly catch-all category (which also happened to be the most prevalent on a national scale), some states reflected strong niche trends. Hawaii, for instance, was the only state to have solar installation in its top three.
Read on to find out the rest of our diverse nation’s remodeling secrets.
From the Issue: Weather Up
At no time is a hardware store more in its element than during a particularly bothersome snowstorm or hurricane. In recent memory alone, the U.S. has weathered wildfires in California, floods in Texas and record-breaking snowfall in Boston. In these times, the neighborhood go-to destination is suddenly a must-go destination, a place that’s reliably open to supply rock salt, shovels and other crucial items.
Temperatures may be reaching peak highs across the nation, but many retailers are already thinking about winter storm products at the same time that they’re stocking summer landscaping goods. With applications ranging far and wide, here are a few types of products that illustrate the powerful relationship between weather and home improvement retailing.
Frost King EPDM Rubber Weatherseal
At a guarantee of 10 years, EPDM Rubber Weatherseal is Frost King’s most enduring weatherstripping product. The self-stick tape is designed to resist hardening, cracking and freezing, and it’ll spring back into shape time and time again. Frost King is a brand of Mahwah, New Jersey-based Thermwell Products. (frostking.com)
Simonton StormBreaker Plus 300VL Windows
Not all windows are created equal — some are better built for nature’s rougher seasons. The 300VL model from Simonton is buffed up with laminated glass, fusion-welded frame construction with reinforced profiles, and a fully interlocking meeting rail. (simonton.com)
Briggs & Stratton Snow-Shredder Serrated Auger
At no point is weather more of a force in need of reckoning than at the height of the winter storm season (just ask Boston). Homeowners in snow-prone regions need equipment they can rely on, such as a snow blower featuring SnowShredder technology, which breaks up compacted snow and ice with 14 serrated surfaces. (briggsandstratton.com)
Abundant storm water is no match for this flexible pipe system that can be used above and underground, fitting virtually any environment where standard drainage presents a challenge. (ads-pipe.com)
Portacool Cyclone 1000
The ability to take the weather into one’s own hands makes a very appealing proposition for the average hardware customer. This portable evaporative cooler can lower temperatures by as much as 30 degrees Fahrenheit, simply by using water and the ambient air around it. (portacool.com)
DAP 3.0 High Performance Sealant
DAP’s 3.0 Window, Door, Trim & Siding Sealant pulls out all the stops to protect homes from drafts and other unruly weather effects. Plus, it acts fast, becoming 100% waterproof and paint-able in 30 minutes. (dap.com)
Rust-Oleum Restore 10X Advanced Resurfacer
This coating’s M.O. is eliminating the need for deck repainting. Restore 10X is 10 times thicker than traditional paint and provides strong water repellency — and it also works on wood decks, most composite decks and concrete patios. (rustoleum.com)
Westinghouse 8KPRO Generator
This generator is built to withstand all kinds of conditions, thanks in part to a GFCI Protected Control Panel with covered outlets. With less than 5% Total Harmonic Distribution (THD), it also features a full cage steel frame, remote start and quick drain system. (westpropower.com)
Weber Premium Grill Cover
Outdoor spaces are meant to be enjoyed, but for when the weather’s not looking particularly barbecue-hospitable, a heavy-duty cover protects grills and makes for an easy add-on sale at retail. (weber.com)
Ames Research Lab Blue Max Coating
For the most extreme waterproofing applications, Blue Max’s adhesive, high-strength elastomeric liquid rubber formula creates an impenetrable barrier that resists cracking and peeling, maintaining its flexibility in temperatures ranging from -30 to 150 degrees Fahrenheit. (amesresearch.com)
True Value takes training on the road
Chicago-based True Value Co. brought its innovative in-store national training program to another 400 people recently.
Introduced at the co-op’s March Reunion in Dallas, the training program is described as an in-store, face-to-face, personal, concise and carefully organized “chat.”
“Each of these chats or training segments focuses on a single top-priority customer service skill at a time,” said CEO John Hartmann in an interview with HBSDealer. “They get it in chunks focused on positive defining moments — for example, the greeting, the support for the purchase and checkout.”
The program was customized for True Value and the hardware store setting with the help of Achieve Global, a firm that specializes in leadership and training.
Part of the idea behind the training technique is to provide a solution for hardware stores that struggle to find the time to train the employees on the front lines.
“What’s really exciting is that it is not computer-based training; it’s not classroom training — all the co-ops have something like that,” Hartmann said. “This is actually tailored, and it’s flexible so the store owner or manager can deliver it right through a casual conversation in their store.”
In fact, Hartmann was one of 26 co-op leaders who underwent training and fanned out across the country for three days in June to bring the training concepts — along with the chats — to the retailers. About 400 people went through the training (including Hartmann’s classes in Grand Rapids and Lansing, Michigan).
Co-op leaders are planning another three-day journey for July, plus more dates in August to bring the training to the frontlines. True Value intends to reach 1,000 people before its Fall Reunion in August.
Hartmann didn’t go as far as to say that classroom and computer training were obsolete. But he did emphasize that retailers wanted something new in regard to engaging associates in the stores. “One of the things that helped us is we listened to our retailers,” he said. “Our retailers told us they wanted new and creative ways to deliver training in a concise and effective amount of time.”