This year in color
If one would believe the headlines, it would seem that homeowners have their sights set on putting the cones and rods in their eyes to better use this year. That’s because a notable number of home improvement players are expanding not through new product lines or distribution regions, but through better color selection and even trend forecasting.
This goes beyond brands that decree their own Color of the Year, though companies like Pantone, Sherwin-Williams and Benjamin Moore have all thrown down for the 2015 superlative.
Color forecasting is becoming somewhat of its own science — or a thought-leadership imperative, depending on your perspective. Smart Carpet and Flooring president Brenda Phillips sees darker hardwood colors in the near future. Kohler and Benjamin Moore teamed up to take this to its natural conclusion: a 32-page catalog of design inspiration called “Collaboration in Full Color.”
Meanwhile, some companies take the more modest approach of adding more color options to their swatches. Just in time to kick off this rather multi-hued year, Dunn-Edwards Paints recently added a whopping 300 new colors to its Perfect Palette color system to honor nostalgic colors, as well as those trending today.
Starts break a barrier, barely
A million housing starts for the year seemed unlikely right up to the end. Even the optimistic forecasters at the National Association of Home Builders, on the eve of 2014’s final monthly report, doubted the industry would cross the million mark.
What happened, though, was the housing equivalent of a ninth-inning rally. After a disappointing November, the industry needed 72,800 December starts to break a million. It got 73,300, plus upwardly revised figures from the Census Bureau for the prior two months. The end result: a full-year final tally of 1,005,800 and the first seven-digit figure since 2007.
Looking ahead, NAHB chief economist David Crowe announced forecast total starts to reach 1,162,000 in 2015, with a super-sized 26% growth in single-family starts.
Nationwide Insurance chief economist David Berson was less optimistic. “Twenty-six percent? I hope you’re right,” he told Crowe during an International Builders’ Show press conference. “I think it’s probably aggressive.”
Many others will dismiss a 26% single-family growth forecast as wishful thinking, but the industry has been surprised before.
Pep talk for a new brand
Las Vegas — Does Super Bowl-winning coach Jon Gruden read the new Hardware + Building Supply Dealer (formerly Home Channel News)? I didn’t get close enough to ask him at a recent convention in Las Vegas, where he was the keynote speaker. But based on his remarks, it would seem so.
Much of the advice he gave to several thousand Design & Construction Week attendees comes right out of the HBSDealer playbook.
• “Accumulate knowledge every day.” This advice plays right into the hands of the new-and-improved HBSDealer newsletter (formerly the HCN Daily). It’s delivered to the industry’s collective inbox every day. It’s free. And it’s guaranteed accurate or your money back.
• “Stay on top of your own self motivation.” Gruden growled about the four E’s: Effort, Enthusiasm, Execution and Entensity (Email me, and I’ll explain). Those E’s guide our team — especially our sales team — as they extend our new brand to the industry.
• “Preparation and presentation go hand in hand.” It’s almost as if Gruden knows that the editors of Hardware + Building Supply Dealer are working ahead on the 2015 10-issue print lineup. Already on the drawing board are “Hardware Store All-Stars” coming in April, the annual “Industry Scoreboard” issue in June, and even the 2015 “People of the Year” issue in December. Also in the hopper are special co-op reports and a National Hardware Show companion issue.
• “Have a contingency plan.” We’ve all had big changes in our businesses. Consider Gruden’s example. One Sunday, his team owner gave him the game ball for setting a new record for wins as a coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The next week, the same owner gave him the game ball for becoming the youngest coach in the history of the NFL to reach 100 wins. Things were looking good.
“Four weeks later, the same owner fired my ass,” Gruden said.
• “Keep raising your bar, no matter what.” That’s sound advice for any coach or business owner, and it’s a policy that guided the creation of the new HBSDealer.com. In January, our team rolled out digital products injected with responsive design. That means our website and newsletter are optimized automatically for smartphone, tablet and computer screens — whatever platform the reader prefers.
Gruden’s keys to successful coaching apply to business people everywhere. “We’re all head coaches of whatever it is we do,” he said.
HBSDealer agrees. And we want to be part of your playbook in 2015. Thanks for reading. Check us out online, and tell us how we’re doing.