Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Westchester Homes Produce Fantastic Video

When it comes to producing high quality homes, very few factories do modular homes the way Westchester Modular Homes does in their NY factory.

When it comes to producing high quality videos showcasing their homes, few do it as well as John Colluci at Westchester Homes.


Westchester Modular Homes of Fairfield County - Better Quality Homes from Ted Hartlett on Vimeo.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Good Old Fashioned Paper Resume vs. Linkedin

Even though the good old fashioned paper resume may seem like it is outdated and has its place back in the dark ages, be advised that you should not count on LinkedIn exclusively to tell your story. Linkedin has not replaced the paper resume. A great resume should be the catalyst that tells your story and sells you and your ‘skill sets’. That is not to say you should not refer someone to your LinkedIn profile. The point being, it is prudent to have the good old fashioned resume on hand to be sent to a prospective employer. 

For example: if you are an Engineer, you can submit your resume for a position and in a cover letter refer them to your LinkedIn profile so they can see examples of your work, drawing designs, etc.  Even as technology has advanced, the resume remains an integral part of the hiring process. The key to remember is a less than stellar resume can also work against you. To keep that from happening, we have a few tips to side step any mistakes a candidate might make. You’ve probably heard them before but we think they bear repeating because in our experience, these mistakes keep repeating themselves.

1. Making grammatical errors and typos
According to a 2013 CareerBuilder survey, almost 60 percent of employers identified resumes with misspellings as one of the top mistakes that led them to automatically deep six a candidate’s resume. Spell check is not always reliable either. It is critical to check and recheck spelling, grammar, and punctuation. It is easy to transpose letters and to overuse or misuse punctuation (especially commas). We can’t all have an English Professor at our disposal but it is important to have someone you can trust to review your resume after you've reviewed it numerous times yourself. It may sound silly but it can even be helpful to read your resume out loud to yourself to see if you pick up on anything that doesn’t sound quite right. You can also set your resume down for a day or two and return to see if it reads exactly as you want it to. 

2. Submitting incorrect information
It may appear to be obvious, but getting the details wrong or not clarifying the details can get your resume tossed into the reject pile fast. When you put an incorrect phone number down or are inaccurate with your job titles or dates of employment, it makes your resume look less than credible. If you say you're detail-oriented, and incorrect information is on your resume, it can reflect negatively on you. Make sure your references still have the same phone (cell) numbers and email addresses. It also may be wise contact them to alert them that they may receive a call from a potential employer to make sure their information is still accurate. A wrong number can be called by a prospective employer and a job title can be verified with a former employer. Make sure they are accurate and your references can be reached. Also make sure your title, etc., is the same as your previous employer says it was.  

3. Don’t give everyone the same resume
Remember that your resume should not be generic. You should tailor your resume to the position’s job description, to market your ‘skill sets’. No two positions are alike. Make sure your resume reflects the position you are seeking. In a CareerBuilder's survey approximately 40 percent of employers identified resumes that are too generic as one of the mistakes that may lead them to automatically place a candidate’s resume in file thirteen. For example, if you have a Commercial and Residential Modular background but the position is for a Residential Modular candidate, make sure you emphasize your Residential Modular background. This form of personalized resume is focused to the needs of the client. If the job description says the position requires P&L experience, integrate this language into your resume using real examples of your P&L background and the results you achieved.

4. Be careful with formatting and style
Formatting is important. If you're going to use bullets, they should be the same size and shape in each section and align from page to page. Also, make sure your resume style progresses with you. In some cases you may want to remove those early jobs that aren’t relevant to the Modular or Manufactured Housing Industry.

A History of Prefab Houses

Prefab is a buzzy topic in architecture and design circles right now, but it's hardly a new concept. The idea of building houses in factories and shipping them to their destinations is at least a century old.

One of the first prefabricated homes was built in Germany and fit on slab construction by architect Robert Krafft and the engineer Friedrich Förster in 1929 for the major industrial companies Hirsch copper and brass works was developed (HKM). 

The copper houses were one display at the 1931 International Colonial Exhibition in Paris and won a Grand Prix Award and was later shown at the German Building Exhibition in Berlin. By 1933, at least 54 of these manufactured homes were produced.

These are Kupferhaus homes built in the 1930's

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Modular Home Built with Huge 3D Inkjet Printer

Leave it up to those technological Chinese engineers to develop not only a HUGE 3D printer to build homes, they can build one in a day and have already started several factories to produce them.

Would it be well received in the US? They seem to be better than the storage containers we are currently embracing for homes.

Modular Housing Industry's #1 Failure

Did you hear the one about the site builder that wanted to go modular? He ordered a house from a factory, lost his shirt and never built another modular home.

That is what happens to a vast majority of site builders that want to try modular. Here is a very typical scenario of what happens when he/she decides to go the modular route.

For arguments sake, let’s assume that a factory rep contacted the builder and set up an appointment to talk about buying modular homes. When the rep sits down and talks about the advantages of modular, he/she will always say that modular homes cost less and that the builder can make more money. They may also mention that the home has about 20% more material and goes together in a day. I’ve heard many sales reps say that the home is only on the production line for about a week and that everyone working on it are highly skilled professionals.

Then the rep invites the builder for a factory tour and shortly afterwards ships a designer package to the builder which may include samples of flooring, siding and trim along with all the brochures they can find laying around the factory’s sample room and a handful of house plan books. Usually at this point the rep declares it a win for the home team and sits back and waits for the builder to send over some quotes and order their first home.

After a few weeks, the factory’s Sales Manager calls the rep into his office and asks why the new builder hasn’t sent anything over to quote or worse, hasn’t ordered anything. The rep calls the builder and finds out that they currently have only one prospect and not ready to send anything over to have quoted.

The rep reports back that the builder is close to ordering their first home and the Sales Manager gets off the rep’s back; at least for a couple more weeks. The rep decides to never try prospecting site builders again and sticks with working to switch established modular builders over to their factory.

In some cases the site builder buys a home from the factory and because of little or no help in understanding the basics of building a modular home ends up losing money and swears to never build another modular home as long as they live.

What should have happened is for the rep to have been trained in what a “new to modular” builder should expect in what they will be receiving from the factory, how to work with subs, how to market and sell modular homes and how the service departments works to help them in case of a problem.

In too many cases, the rep is not prepared to do any more that be a Vanna White and flip through possible solutions after the builder makes a call and asks for help. In a lot of cases, the builder will begin to feel a total disconnect with the factory.

And we wonder why site builders go back to making sawdust instead of buying modular homes.

I’ve been asked numerous times what can be done about this problem. Here are my suggestions:

  • Develop industry training courses for Sales Managers and reps to better prepare them to understand the home builder.
  • Every “new to modular” builder must attend an “industry sponsored” training program where they will learn what is involved in building their first home.
  • Industry training for the factory team to promote and develop marketing and business plans for the builder.

We all ask who could do this for the factory and builder and nobody seems to have an answer and more often than not, the factory folks don’t want to spend any money to help themselves because of they are afraid that a well trained staff and educated builders will jump from factory to factory.

I am issuing a challenge to every factory owner, GM, Sales Manager, CEO, COO, CFO and sales rep to come up with suggestions that will bring in a new wave of successful “new to modular” builder. Send them to me at modcoach@modularhomecoach.com and I will personally start putting together programs and people to get this started.

Everyone says that modular is the future of homebuilding but nobody at the factory level is preparing to see it become reality.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Excel Homes Delivers Apartment Complex to New Jersey

Excel Homes just delivered a nice apartment building to Madison, NJ for Royal Wave Development.

The Ridgedale Condominium Project is located in Madison, New Jersey and is a large three story apartment building catering to high income residents of the Madison NJ area. The building consists of 13 large living units on three levels over parking and storage space.

Modular construction is being used by more developers than ever because of controlled costs and time to completion. Being able to complete these projects in a few months instead of up to 18 months for site building, means that the revenue stream begins quicker and the entire project is more profitable.

When Frank Hanlonfhanlon@excelhomes.com, from Excel’s Liverpool, PA plant brought in this order, he knew that once the developer uses modular for the first time, it wouldn't be their last. If you need a project completed quicker and with a tighter rein on costs, modular is the way to go.

Here are pictures of the Ridgedale Condominium project.

April's Builder Breakfast Brings Industry Leaders Together

My monthly Builder Breakfast has grown so much from its humble beginnings of just a single builder meeting with me and talking about the problems of modular housing into what it is now, a forum for the entire modular home industry’s future.

This month the number of people that wanted to attend was so large that I had to move it to Holiday Inn convention center. Attending were factory people, modular home builders, engineers, Architects, Norm Hall from Simspon-Strongtie and Tom Hardiman, the Executive Director of the MHBA.

Jay Barlow, Barlow Engineering, was the featured speaker for this meeting and talked about the importance of bringing in an engineer during the beginning stages of builder talks with the customer. Waiting until the plans are drawn and the contract signed can mean thousands of dollars out of the builder’s pocket. It was eye-opening for everyone.

Jay Barlow, circled; Chris Minium, PBS to the left of Jay; Anthony Zarrilli, Zarrilli Homes in NJ; Ken Semler, Express Modular; Dan Hobbs, GM of Hancrafted Homes and Denise Jacoby, Director of Frederick County Builders Assoc.

Tom Hardiman from the MHBA talked about all the areas that our association is working in to help promote modular housing and lobby for our industry in just about every state. He also invited everyone at the breakfast to join us at the “Best Practices” conference in Philly next week.

Tom Hardiman, Executive Director of the MHBA

Finally Harris Woodward, owner of FinishWerks in Savage, MD, showed us how he builds “High Performance” houses and the inherent advantages modular housing gives him in achieving Energy Star ratings in the 50’s and below without adding much to the homebuyer’s total building cost.

Harris Woodward, Owner of FinishWerks in Savage, MD

And finally, after the breakfast ended about 10:30, there were groups of people continuing to talk in the lobby and nooks everywhere with some of them even going to lunch.

This is what happens when the movers and shakers from the modular housing industry get together and talk about our problems and solutions. 

If you are interested in joining us for the May Builder Breakfast on Wednesday, the 21st, drop me a line at Modcoach@gmail.com.