Even mediocre economic news is good news in times like these, and the fact that the U.S. shed a mere 345,000 jobs in May -- far less than expected -- came as promising news. Construction jobs, too, got a reprieve from their long bruising: 59,000 workers lost their construction jobs in May, half the number lost in April.
Here at the micro level of remodeling journalism, positive-ish stories are trickling in at an accelerating pace as well. Some remodelers' stories brim with unabashed confidence. Others are cautiously optimistic that recovery is ahead and that when it arrives, their remodeling businesses will be front-and-center in the minds of their clients.
Some upbeat reports from the past few days alone:
McAdams Builders, in Kirkland, Wash., for instance, entertained more than 100 guests at its recent open house. A local ice cream parlor served root beer floats, and visitors also enjoyed an office tour, seeing the showroom’s newly remodeled kitchen, and a project slide show that was frequently interrupted by voices saying, “That’s my home!”
New media are the principal means of regenerating buzz for this 33-year-old company, through an e-zine distributed to 600 people, a blog, a network-rich presence on LinkedIn, and a Facebook page, among other things.
“I also write a monthly article for the local newspaper,” says owner Len McAdams, but he reserves his greatest enthusiasm for Web media. “We can only sell so much work to the people who are my age, 65,” he says. To reach the younger end of his market, “the answer is somehow through the Internet. And I don’t think we can leave out any opportunities until we find the one that works,” he says.
A few more positive gleanings from the week:
The Artisans Group, in Olympia, Wash., is “actually getting a little wind in our sales (misspelling intended),” e-mails Chris McDonald, co-owner.
At Moroso Construction, in San Francisco, “We are really busy, which is spectacular in this tough economy,” Jeff Moroso says.
Conveying the mood in Texas, David Alpert, who develops marketing strategies for many remodelers at Continuum Marketing Group, reports that his remodeler contacts in the Lone Star state have said they “were having their best year and/or were expanding.”
In Philadelphia, the women and men of Myers Constructs are looking at a busy summer and fall thanks in part to their ongoing PR and social media blitz. On Twitter a few days ago, co-owner Diane Menke “tweeted” that the company’s website visits are way up in the past year or so -- a 40% boost in May over April alone.
Speaking of tweeting, an equipment rental company in Arizona tweeted last night that, “We see remodeling contractors doing well too -- there's $$ in updating vs. building from scratch.”
So there you have it: evidence that there’s plenty of life in remodeling, and it can only help to see the glass as being half-full -- and then to try new ways to fill it.