Remodelers — usually independent kinds of people — often try to reinvent the wheel. About a year ago, Tom DiBenedetto, owner of TDB Construction, realized that there was a better way to run a business; he decided to connect with other remodelers in his local area of Rockland County, N.Y. A core group of about 10 company owners meets in his office on the third Thursday of each month to discuss business issues on both a micro and a macro level. “Everything that happens in that room stays in that room,” DiBenedetto says.
One recent discussion about the current economy led the group to create a pamphlet for consumers on how to hire a home improvement contractor. “We were tired of fly-by-night contractors operating without a licence [required by the county] or improper insurance,” DiBenedetto says. The group met with the Rockland County licensing board and got the local home builders association to sponsor the piece. Various group members offer free seminars explaining county home improvement laws to homeowners and to contractors, as well as talks on how to hire a contractor.
Future group goals include seminars at the Rockland County Home Show, which normally draws 30,000 attendees, and developing a buying group for more leverage with distributors.
Although group members sometimes bid against one another in the marketplace, DiBenedetto says, “We each offer different products and services and a way to go about doing business,” so competition isn’t an issue.
Why not just join an association? “This is more laid-back. If you put people in a simple environment they’ll open up,” DiBenedetto says. “This is important in times like today.”