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FROM THE TAILGATE
Sage advice from the trenches
By Ron Jones
The Excuse Train
In the three-plus decades that I have been deeply embedded in the shelter industry, I have come to know developers, designers and builders in every state of the U.S., and I have yet to meet a single one who doesn’t think he or she can perform successfully against the competition in their respective markets. A shared trait among all of them is that, given a level playing field, they are just as smart, innovative, determined and capable as all the guys they go toe-to-toe with for customers.


Interestingly, this doesn’t often manifest itself as arrogance—rather, it is a genuine sense of self-confidence that comes from knowing their business, their industry, their communities and their own team’s abilities. The most successful ones have learned how to stay on top of consumer preferences, new products and systems, codes and regulations, the ever-changing financial landscape, vital relationships with trade contractors and suppliers, and they’ve learned to maintain a realistic sense of their own limitations.


Then along comes green building, and they start to bolt for cover. Even now, many of these same building professionals react as if they have been confronted by something completely foreign, and sadly, they begin groping for excuses. I can’t count all the times I’ve heard them say something like, “my framer isn’t into high-performance framing” or “my plumber won’t take a chance on that new piping product” or “my HVAC guy doesn’t bother with Manual J, he sizes mechanical systems his own way.”


To these kinds of statements I always respond the same way—by asking: “Who is working for whom?” “Whose name is on the yard sign?” “Who is sitting down to closing with the buyers?” “Whose phone is going to ring when there is a performance issue or complaint?”


At that point they often reach back in the excuse bag and pull out the old standby, “Yeah, but my customers won’t pay for green.” And I’m always ready with my own standby, “Bull!”


Trying to tell me that buyers won’t pay for better performance, comfort, durability and reliability is like trying to convince me that people don’t want indoor plumbing. It is utter nonsense, and not just because I say so. In all of the builder surveys we conduct here at Green Builder Media, the message that builders keep sending over and over is that if it were not for their adoption of green building, they would be out of business already. It’s practically universal.


09.2011
64

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