Editor's Blog

Only Great Products Will Sustain the Green Movement

January 16, 2009
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For the last few years, anything green has received incredible attention. The high price of oil, the threat of global warming, and a strong economy have caused us to view the world through green-tinted glasses. I don’t know about you, but I sometimes feel like I am drowning in a sea of green.

Fast forward to today. Oil is cheap, icy weather engulfs the U.S. (global cooling?), and our economy stinks. Could the vast green sea become a puddle?

Let’s use the 2009 Detroit auto show to gain some perspective. Early hype has focused on all-electric cars, buoyed by their green factor. Is the Chevy Volt the next big hit? Can it help turn GM around? Will the automakers soon sell electric cars by the thousands?

Unfortunately, we’ve been down this road before. GM previously produced electric vehicles, but found the consuming public wasn’t very interested. GM could not sell enough of the cars to make a profit, so it pulled the plug.

As any good marketer will tell you, only innovative, high-quality, service-rendering products will become hits. To enjoy a long life span, hit products also need to keep outperforming all challengers. So the Chevy Volt will succeed only if delivers on its promises, and keeps delivering.

Need an example? The last mass-producer of VHS tapes just announced it is shutting down, a casualty of the more popular DVD format…which is expected to die shortly with the increasing adoption of Blu-ray technology.

So if you’re tired of all the green hype coming your way, relax. Only those products that offer truly exceptional value will last. All the green wannabes will disappear.

How do I know this? You told me. Actually, 414 of you told Clear Seas Research, which conducted a green construction survey on my behalf.

Specifically, 52% of you (readers of BNP Media’s architecture, engineering and construction magazines) said your top reason for shifting to green products and services was to spec/buy/install a “Better Product.” The next closest reason was to be “Socially Responsible” (44%), followed by “Owner’s Request” (42%), “Building Certification” (25%), and “Government Incentive” (25%).

You even told us some of the green products that are helping you meet customer needs in 2009. These include:
  • Solar heating products
  • Low/dual flush toilets
  • Low flow faucets/showerheads
  • Geothermal products
  • High efficiency equipment
  • Recycled carpet
  • Bamboo
  • Recycled flooring materials
  • Energy efficient insulation
  • Recycled roofing products
This survey was conducted in late fall 2008. But with our economy downshifting daily, I strongly suspect that construction pros are no longer selecting green products in order to be socially responsible. They are buying the best products.

So the next time a project manager, facility owner or homeowner asks you to green up their project, pick the products that will perform the best, not the ones with the most hype. Your customer will thank you now and for many years to come.
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GREEN horn !!

Michael Bourke
January 17, 2009
I need help. As the curerent owner of a sales rep agency - selling into the Home Improvemant market -I want to become proficient at selling Solar /electric and heating systems. but don't know where to begin!!! Where do I look to obtain the necessary training, knowledge and skills to effectively get this done. HELP !!

Going Green

Katie Rotella
January 19, 2009
Mike there are several avenues to pursue in today's market for green training and info. One great way is to get LEED certified. It requires some studying and taking a test, but most training can be done through online workshops and through mail-order training manuals. The US Green Building Council will be a great first-step. In the plumbing world, there's a great green wave washing over America in the form of GreenPlumbers USA. These are nationwide sponsored training opportunities for various green plumbing segments: low-flow toilets, rainwater/greywater reclamation, appliance efficiency, etc. Also, check with PHC manufacturers: many are now offering their own factory training on their new green/efficient products. And finally, don't forget to read up on all things green through your favorite trade magazines, websites and blogs! Best of luck.

Are you going to the AHR Expo next week?

George Zebrowski
January 20, 2009
The AHR Expo will be held Monday, Jan. 26th to Wednesday, Jan. 28th at McCormick Place in Chicago. The morning of the first day PM's hydronic editor, John Siegenthaler, will be conducting a seminar on "Solar Water & Solar Heating." Still time to register at www.pmmag.com/pmlive.

Conserving water, time and energy

Ken Palmer
March 7, 2009
There is a new tool out for the Stone and Tle industry. It conserves water, time and energy, yours. Tile Fab has a new Universal, fully self contained tile tub saw cart. It recycles and filters your water, saving both clean water and unproper disposal of contaminated water. A win win for everybody. No more dumping your waste in the customers yard. Time, mount your favorite tub saw on the Tile Fab Cart once and you're in business. It cuts your set up and tear down time by 99.4%. This sets up in 30 seconds or less, 30 seconds to cutting, thirty seconds tear down with no mess to clean up, it pays for it's self in about a week. Energy, no more lifting and struggling with your saw, the 16" foam filled wheels climb stairs nicely. It practically loads it's self in the truck at the end of the day. Save your back by one today and love your saw again like the day you bought it. go to www.tilefab.com and check it out.

New Thin Stone Products - StoneSheets

Tracy Gilbert
September 20, 2009
We have several different options for the lightest weight solid stone - or even solid surface - material to hit the market yet. We encourage people to use our products because not only do they solve the environmental issues, but it solves the practical inconveniences that have existed with stone for a long time. Our products install directly over cladding or tile, and weigh only 160 pounds for a full 4ft x 8ft panel, or we can make our materials into countertops or other items. Come see, and listen for our upcoming certification.... http://StoneSheets.com

Green Stone Substitutes

Roy Nott
October 7, 2009
It's Getting Easier to be Green Roy Nott President & CEO of Paneltech International LLC, the Makers of PaperStone How should a stone fabricator cope with this lousy economy? Demand has been poor for a long time and most economists contend that this isn't your normal cyclical downturn where we should expect a quick and complete recovery. In a November 16, 2008 Op-Ed piece for the New York Times, well known author Thomas Friedman summarized the terrible, complicated mess we are now in: ‘When these reckless mortgages eventually blew up, it led to a credit crisis. Banks stopped lending. That soon morphed into an equity crisis, as worried investors liquidated stock portfolios. The equity crisis made people feel poorer and metastasized into a consumption crisis, which is why purchases of cars, appliances, electronics, homes and clothing (and new kitchen and bath countertops- my insertion) have just fallen off the cliff. This, in turn, has sparked more company defaults, exacerbated the credit crisis and metastasized into an unemployment crisis, as companies rush to shed workers.' Trillions and trillions of dollars of home equity has literally evaporated into thin air. Over 25% of U.S. home buyers now have negative equity. Home owners (and commercial builders, too) are much more attentive to their spending. In many cases, new stone countertops will have to wait or lower cost alternatives will need to be found. Smart businessmen adhere closely to the old adage, ‘Stick to your knitting'. They are reluctant to stray very far away from the raw materials, customers and markets and business models that have made them successful in the past. And those who have served the construction and repairs and remodeling market for any period of time also understand its notorious cyclicality. It's time to just hunker down and wait out the next up-cycle, right? As Friedman's summary indicates, that could be a very long and painful wait. The easiest and most common route to giving the remaining countertop customers greater value- buying new equipment that permits us to become ever more cost efficient- is also especially difficult at a time like this. Internally-generated cash is down and financial institutions are far more reluctant to loan. And, with the increased prevalence of cut throat competition, this focus on lower and lower costs to give fewer and fewer customers better and better prices often becomes a no-win ‘race to the bottom'. But there is one demand segment that seems to be doing surprisingly well. Even as the general economy remains lousy, more people are jumping on the ‘green' bandwagon. According to the U.S. Green Building Council, the square footage of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-certified construction increased from 148 million at the end of 2007 to 284 million square feet at the end of January 2009. The September 2009 Harvard Business Review's cover? ‘How Green Will Save Us'. A new report from Delloite and GMA entitled Finding the Green in today's Shopper's notes that 54% of surveyed customers now integrate ‘sustainability' into their purchase decisions. And this percentage is growing. As the manufacturer of PaperStone, this may sound self-serving but, considering the preceding factors, why aren't more stone fabricators focusing on the growing market opportunities for green countertops? Stone fabricators often have the market relationships and they have adapted very quickly to new materials (e.g. engineered quartz). New green stone substitute materials like PaperStone are, if anything, easier to fabricate. Distributed efficiently, they can be installed at very competitive prices. Given the economy and the apparent business strategy alternatives, it's getting easier and easier to be green.



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