Looking back on trends and changes over the past year, I find it difficult to separate what's going on in the larger world from the home remodeling industry. As Americans, our tolerance for risk is relatively high. However, we also need stability and predictability. With horror and chaos everywhere around us -- the September 11th attacks, the stock market downturn, and the Enron/WorldCom corporate crime spree -- the home has come to represent both an economic and emotional retreat. It's real, and we control it.

As remodelers we've moved ever closer to the role of providing sticks and bricks therapy for our society. Many remodeling organizations understand this dynamic and have experienced healthy growth in the past year.

Another dynamic I see is the influence of technology on our industry. The effect of the Internet on communication and research has been so significant that many remodeling companies are struggling to keep up with it. They should try even harder, or they may find it difficult to compete in the future. --Mark Richardson is president of Case Design/Remodeling, Bethesda, Md., (301) 229-4600, mrichardson@casedesign.com.