NARI Metro DC held its 2018 Education Day Wednesday. NARI offered twelve different classes across four sessions which covered topics related to design, management, and the field. REMODELING's Marisa Mendez attended the event as a guest. Below, you'll find some top takeaways from the four sessions Mendez attended:

The "Art" of Quartz Countertops
This class discussed the manufacturing process of quartz slabs as well as the advantages to using it in projects.

  • Quartz is the second-most abundant mineral in the world. It's a seven (7) on the Mohs Hardness Scale.
  • It is found primarily in the US, Canada, Brazil, China, Germany, and Madagascar. Each location can have an impact on quartz's design, color, and more.
  • To create a quartz slab, manufacturers combine quartz dust (which makes up 85-93% of the slab), pigments, resin, and other additives, then submit it to extreme pressure in a mold. The resulting slab is a nonporous, hard, and dense material.
  • Manufacturers can create quartz slabs in almost any color and can mimic the look of natural stone. They are also able to create more consistency within the stone.
  • Quartz can withstand up to 290 degrees Fahrenheit of direct heat, though it is recommended to use a trivet under something like a hot pot to prevent damaging the quartz. Too much heat can cause the additives in the product to burn, leading to discoloration. Once burned, the product likely cannot be fixed and will need a complete replacement.
  • Quartz is Greenguard certified.

Small Crew Efficiencies and Eliminating the Lumberyard Runs
This class explored ways in which businesses with small crews can be more effective. It also provided tips on how to limit runs to the lumberyard during a project.

  • Planning ahead is crucial for small teams. Be sure the lead carpenter/field staff is creating its own list of to-dos and a time frame in which to complete those tasks.
  • Also be sure the lead carpenter is planning ahead; they should know what they want to do three weeks ahead, two weeks ahead, one week ahead, and tomorrow. They should be sure they order all tools and materials well in advance so that the items are onsite the day they are needed. (This will also help to eliminate lumberyard runs)
  • Be on the look out for new ways to complete tasks faster and safely. Encourage your staff to think for themselves and innovate new ways to get tasks done more efficiently; don't stick with "the way you've always done it."
  • Eliminating lumberyard runs also takes a great planning, as mentioned above. Create a standard cheat-sheet that outlines all of the tools and materials you need for specific jobs, like framing, to reference when ordering materials. These sheets can help you avoid running to the store for smaller items like nails or blades.
  • You know lumberyard runs are bound to happen, no matter how much you plan. The homeowner should be paying for those runs. Try to work those runs into your budget.

Developing a Culture of Accountability: A Fresh Apporach
Without accountability, you and your employees lack knowing who is responsible for what. When an issue arises, finger-pointing ensues. Here are a few tips for creating accountability in your company.

  • Read The Oz Principle by Roger Connors, Tom Smith, and Craig Hickman. It goes into more detail about many of the principles below.
  • Accountability needs to be active, not reactive. You and your employees should focus on solving problems now and preventing them in the future, not blaming/punishing people for mistakes.
  • Connors, Smith, and Hickman say that accountability needs people to "see it, own it, solve it, do it."
  • See It: Both you and your employees need to see your responsibilities; ask, "what can I do?"
  • Own It: Admit your part in the situation. If there is a mistake, confess to it. With employees, be sure you show them how they play parts in certain situations.
  • Solve It: Figure out what you and your employees can do. In case of your employees, help them figure out what to do, but do not tell them what to do. Keep the goal in front of them and allow them to think freely.
  • Do it: Implement the changes and solutions. DO NOT change the goal: Change the behavior and processes.

Estimating ... Free or Not?
In this panel discussion, three local business owners discussed when and why you should charge for estimating and design.

  • Ballpark estimates can be free, but in-depth, detailed estimates should have a fee. You deserve to be paid for your time.
  • Educate the homeowner on why you charge for estimates (and/or design). A detailed estimate means that there are no hidden fees within the project and both parties have a great understanding of the scope of work.
  • There are no "free" estimates. All estimates are somehow paid for. Explain to clients that they can either pay for all the free people or only pay for what they use.
  • The estimating process can also be a good indication of how well you and the homeowner will work together. If they are difficult during this process and continue to complain about the fees, they will likely be a nightmare to work with.