Patrick L. O’Toole is the former editorial director and publisher of Professional Builder, a 77-year-old publication that is read by 112,000 builders each month. Previously, O’Toole served as editor and publisher of Qualified Remodeler magazine. He started his career as a reporter for the Associated Press in Chicago. He holds a B.A. from Miami University and a masters degree in journalism from Columbia College.
Richard Dugas, the CEO of PulteGroup, did not want to throw cold water on the party, but he deserves credit for at least pointing out that housing still faces a number of regulatory and financial obstacles as the market recovery begins to get traction. Such was the tidal wave of positive energy and good news at a recent housing investor conference that even a slight note of caution, from Dugas (whose firm just delivered very positive quarterly results), stood in sharp contrast to other commentary that day.
Every so often, when a number of positive changes occur right on top of each other, it makes sense to communicate them directly to you, our readers. This month, I am pleased to highlight several significant changes and improvements to Professional Remodeler magazine and HousingZone.com.
SAN FRANCISCO -- One of my first stops on the PCBC show floor was to visit my friend Dave Wilson of Liners Direct, a manufacturer of acrylic bath products that is pushing the innovation envelope in many ways.
Notes from PCBC 2011
SAN FRANCISCO – This annual conference and trade show for builders hosted by the California Building Industry Association for more than 40 years has certainly seen frothier times. In 2004 and 2005, exhibits sprawled across three large show floors. This year, it fits neatly into one hall anchored by a bedrock stable of exhibitors and attendees.
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. -- This spring offered the opportunity for Professional Builder editors to make educational presentations in 30 markets around the country. We supplied the builder-segment education for the series of Pro Expos sponsored by a coalition of building industry partners.
Several of us at Professional Builder are traveling the country this spring, speaking at The Pro Expos presented by Pella. The events are being held in 30 cities. For us, it is an invaluable opportunity to connect with builders, architects, and developers and to hear their strategies and tactics for managing through the downturn.
On a snowy Washington morning last December, a group of us from Professional Builder had the privilege of spending a couple of hours with NAHB chief lobbyist Joe Stanton and key members of his staff. The purpose was to conduct an interview, which appeared in PB in February. Our aim was to simply get an update on upcoming issues facing builders.
1. Forget about it.
(For those in the Northeast, fuggedaboudit.)
Typically associated with senility and soft-mindedness, forgetting may be an asset in the coming months and years. Builders and remodelers must somehow purge the memory of the go-go housing market of 1995 to 2006. We will not see its like again for some time. But the memories of easy sales, fast turns of inventory, and lotteries to buy homes in new communities are strong.
When this magazine was launched as Practical Builder in the spring of 1936, the outlook for Americans and the rest of the world was far bleaker than what we face today. Back then we were in the throes of an extended economic downturn that would only subside after World War II ended nine years later. Since that time — 1945 to the present — housing and the American Dream have been inextricably linked.
Two years ago, at the height of the global financial crisis, investor Warren Buffett pulled out this gem of a quote to describe the situation. “It’s only when the tide goes out that you learn who’s been swimming naked.”
And while this is an accurate expression of what happens to weak businesses when there is a downturn in the business cycle, it seems particularly apt as a description of the builder market before and after the housing market bubble burst.