Standing for Something

There is a great quote from Tom Chappell, co-founder and CEO of Tom’s of Maine: 'Success means never letting the competition define you. Instead you have to define yourself based on a point of view you care deeply about.'

By Dean Horowitz, Publisher | September 30, 2000


Dean Horowitz, Publisher

There is a great quote from Tom Chappell, co-founder and CEO of Tom’s of Maine: "Success means never letting the competition define you. Instead you have to define yourself based on a point of view you care deeply about."

Chappell sells natural personal care products in an arena with the likes of Colgate-Palmolive, Procter & Gamble and Kimberly-Clark. These giants have a firm position on mass merchandisers’ shelves and a large customer base with repeat purchasing habits.

As Americans, we vote with our time and money. While most of us purchase the giants' products, Tom’s of Maine has established its own loyal customer base because of comparable product quality, but also because of what the purchase represents to the buyer. Tom's customers reaffirm their moral code by selecting Tom’s toothpaste. Isn’t that extraordinarily powerful?

As the publisher of Professional Builder, I have come to understand the value of this core approach slowly, but I am now a firm believer in its merits.

Is Professional Builder simply an industry publication? No. It must be firmly established as a vital living entity within the industry it serves. It is not exclusively a magazine -- for a magazine simply carries information -- nor is it about the individuals who fill its pages with content and advertising. Professional Builder begins with those individuals believing in our industry so deeply that the end result of their efforts is not theoretical but practical -- that together as an industry we can solve our problems, directly and earnestly. It isn’t about listening, though listening has a great deal to do with it. It isn’t about joining organizations, though we are members. It is about realizing a blurring of the lines so each individual in this industry’s team fulfills his or her responsibilities in achieving the greater goals. Each hour, each day.

Professional Builder demonstrates this with its Learn section, which provides continuing education units via an alliance with the NAHB’s Home Builders Institute.

It is about championing the labor issue by delivering needed dollars and visibility for SkillsUSA-VICA and Job Corps programs.

It is understanding that housing is no different than any other industry in its requirement to provide a quality product. We demonstrate our commitment through the National Housing Quality Award program with the NAHB Research Center.

It is a belief in technology not for technology’s sake but for how it can be effectively incorporated into a builder’s business processes. Professional Builder’s sister Web site,, ushered in the industry's first online technology conference, the eConstruction Conference. It presents the ideas of more than 30 leading authorities and offers technology vendors the opportunity to present their offerings. PB helped craft the content so it properly delivers value and avoids sales messages.

It is a monthly testament to the value of solid business skills. Professional Builder used to be about "helping the builder make a buck." Now it is about delivering the content that will ensure the builder makes a buck today and in the future.

It is a commitment to land. This is the area that affects builders and receives only topical attention in trade magazines. We are focused on presenting content that ultimately eliminates the "sprawl" debate and replaces it with viable solutions that match community needs.

It is about wrapping ourselves in the championing of green building as an issue because it is rich in opportunity for our industry and does not have to be one that fragments.

Has value-based marketing worked for us? The results are demonstrated in high readership scores and peer recognition, such as the recent National Gold Award from the American Society of Business Press Editors.

To paraphrase a pop song, you got to stand up for something or you will fall for anything. By respecting our customers and delivering a product rich with social and moral responsibilities, we all profit.


Related Categories