What are the biggest challenges and changes you are currently facing at both the customer and production levels?
CHRIS SMILES: The labor market is an issue,
in part because of the demand for labor and a shortage of tradespeople. Within our industry, we all share a lot of the same sub-contractors. So, we’re jumping up and down right now, trying to get sub-contractors that are in a position to leverage competitive pay. That means I’m going back and forth constantly trying to keep every- thing on an even keel.
And turnover within the labor market is a problem. Looking at just the framing trade,
we use the same framing company for all our houses. Even though it’s the same company, there are new and different people coming in all the time. In retraining them on what a house is supposed to look like, the next thing I know, I’ve got $3,000 or $4,000 more in supplies on this house than another house just like it. It is critical to have professional trade partners today.
ASHLEY KENT: With business being so good right now, I think trade partners may be over- committing on jobs. They’re taking on more work but it’s taking twice as long, so it has become harder to get quality work or to get that work done under a good production timeline.
In terms of homebuyers, something I’ve
seen from the sales side of the industry is peo- ple want what they want – they watch HGTV and think they can renovate a home in a week within a certain budget. People have very high expectations – they want what they want and want it at a low price.
When it comes to tech, we have a lot of re- tirement-age buyers who are very savvy. They get on Facebook and the NextDoor app that
so many neighborhoods use now. They’ll ask on those sites, “What should I include in my house?” And when they come in to talk with us, they’ll have a list of 50 bullet points of features they want or think they should have based on what their friends on social media have said.
JASON AKINS: Technology has changed the homebuying process somewhat and, of course, it’s not necessarily a challenge. But people
will often get on Houzz.com and then come in with a million pictures from their account even if they don’t have a clear idea of what kind of home they want.
From a builder perspective, the biggestissue I have is nding people who care aboutthe work they’re doing. They often don’t care; they just show up and do a job.
We de nitely have some good tradespeoplethat we use time and time again for projects but the problem isn’t the company or owner; it’s often the changeover in terms of employees and that learning curve that has to happen every time. Insuring trade partners have systems and pro- cesses to deal with these challenges is crucial.
CEE EDWARDS: A challenge after Hurricane Florence was handling the additional custom- ers. The way we approached it was to just sep- arate hurricane-related work from our normal day-to-day operations.
The unfortunate thing for them – and the fortunate thing for us – is that waiting on the adjusters and insurance claims has kind of staggered the installations and the needs. So, that’s helping us with the labor aspect of it.
I think we’re going to see people still coming in because they’re waiting on insurance money or waiting to decide what to do with it.
An ongoing challenge for us at Markraft
is ensuring we continue to have a skilled workforce of cabinet installers and craftsmen. They’re a dying breed and, as the older ones are aging out, we have been looking at ways to bring in new tradespeople.
We recently partnered with a construction management class at Cape Fear Community Col- lege (CFCC) and talked to them about how they could make a good living as a cabinet installer.
From there, we put together an apprenticeship program. We have a graduate of CFCC’s con- struction management program apprenticing with us now. We pay him a full-time hourly wage and we are teaching him everything we can about the industry. We also implemented an intern program for a current CFCC student who can work part- time, and we pay and train him the same way.
We’re trying to train them while they’re in school and coming out of school to let them know they can make a good living with us.
For a quarter century, Majestic has offered a wide selection of products for homebuilders, from counter tops, shower enclosures, shelving, door hardware and accessories for kitchens and bathrooms, in North and South Carolina. Acquisitions just within the last year of many well-established companies – including Builders Glass & Hardware Inc. in Wilmington and similar businesses in Greensboro and Charlotte – allow Majestic to be the most professional trade partner. Visit www.gomajestic.com or call (910) 762-2252 for more information.
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