News Category: Business Operations

Happy Customers are Loyal Customers

At RailFX, we sell through our distributor network and communicate with the end-user regarding the installation of our products. As a manufacturer, it’s in our best interest to ensure a solid installation.

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Regal Ideas President Retires After More Than 20 Years with the Company

Effective immediately, Andrew Pantelides, vice president of marketing and business development, will be taking over Couillard’s responsibilities including sales and strategy for the company.

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Oldcastle APG Will Double Capacity for MoistureShield Composite Decking

Oldcastle APG will double its manufacturing capacity with a new expansion at the company’s MoistureShield plant in Springdale, AR.

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Best Practices for Deck Restoration

Regardless of wood type, all decks require a maintenance coat of finish to retain their beauty and ensure the highest level of protection from the …

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Fence Planner Software

Simpson Strong-Tie has launched Fence Planner Software—a robust, easy-to-use solution for simplifying and streamlining the fence planning process to create customized designs, compile a complete …

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Horizontal Vinyl Fencing Debuts with Barrette Outdoor Living in 2022

Barrette Outdoor Living, Inc., a leading provider of outdoor living products, recently debuted its new contemporary Horizontal Vinyl Fencing product line, featuring two styles — a full solid privacy option and one that features the company’s unique Decorative Screen Panel as an alternative to traditional lattice top. Both horizontal vinyl fence styles will be available in two widths and in a variety of colors — including a modern solid gray and two unique wood grain patterns. To make installation as easy as possible, Barrette Outdoor Living designed a special channel that allows infill boards to slide into place and lock securely. “We’ve seen the market trending to a popular style of wood and vinyl versions of horizontal fencing for the past few years,” said Patrick Ianni, Director of Product Management at Barrette Outdoor Living. “With our new system, we are able to offer an easy-to-install, kit-based version of this trending style.” The launch of this vinyl fencing is yet one more addition to the company’s expanding line of products that are compatible with its wide assortment of design-forward Decorative Screen Panels, which also includes pergola, railing infills and privacy screen kits. All vinyl fencing manufactured by Barrette Outdoor Living features SolarGuard® technology that provides fade resistance; StayStraight® rails that prevent long-term bowing and sagging; and StaySquare® gate designs thatprovide increased strength and structural integrity. About Barrette Outdoor Living, Inc.®:  Barrette Outdoor Living empowers homeowners to bring their personal outdoor space to life — however they envision it — by providing fencing, railing, decking and complementary outdoor products that beckon people to embrace their Outside SideTM. Barrette Outdoor Living is proud to be an American manufacturer, with 14 locations throughout North America that provide outdoor products sold through specialty retailers, home centers and lumberyards. Featuring more than 75 patents, Content supplied by

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Marketing Your Business One Image at a Time

As a professional deck builder — a team of one or many — marketing your business may be low on the list or something you farm out for someone else to do. Word of mouth and repeat business may keep your project pipeline steady, and that’s great. Or your marketing may be high on the list if you lack a robust project schedule. In that case, there are some easy ways to get you going. With so many marketing options to consider — updated website, social media posts, Google my business, Google reviews, advertising, blogs, etc. — there’s one essential marketing tactic your customers and prospective customers love to see: project photos. Build Your Image Portfolio Building an image portfolio is often overlooked and is easily accomplished with your smartphone, whether you snap a completed project, work in progress, before and after, no matter how big or small the projects. Your customers and potential customers are searching for inspiration, so give it to them. Building a deck may be an essential part of your project. But also consider the finishing touches like your railings. Are they just there for safety? Or are they an architectural focal point? Is there a view? Was there a before and after transformation? Highlight the obvious and build a visual story. Maintaining a View This recent deck and railing project in Northern California showcase panoramic and unobstructed views. The owners converted a 1970s ranch-style home on a slope perched high in the hills in Carmel, and the view was the highlight of the home. In addition to many windows, the extensive deck off the back overlooks the valley, and by adding cable railing in silver by RailFX, their view is not interrupted. They liked it so much, they added it to the interior staircase. Before and After

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Deck Specialists of the Year: StoneCroft Construction

Evolution Specialist of the Year Q. How did you get your start in construction? I have always enjoyed building things. I grew up on a rural family farm in Kansas and I learned to weld things out of metal as a teen. From personal experience, we knew that if we built something on the farm out of wood, we would need to replace it. However, if we built it out of metal, our grandchildren would be able to use it one day. We moved out to Colorado Springs in 2012 because we had always wanted to live near the mountains. Two years later, StoneCroft Construction was born. From the very beginning, we’ve focused on building decks because these structures blend our love of construction and the outdoors. Q. When did you first come to use steel decking framing and why Fortress Evolution? We assembled a beta deck with Evolution steel deck framing in 2018—it was hook, line and sinker. I knew it was a fit for us. Our company focuses on building decks that are as beautiful as they are strong, and as strong as they are beautiful. Steel framing allows us to carry out this vision. We made the complete shift to the Fortress framing system a year later and never looked back. In fact, we just completed our 58th steel deck framing project. We believe in steel because here in the Southern Rockies, wood is exposed to dramatic fluxes in temperature and extreme weather conditions. The dry heat of summer, paired with the wet, cold of winter, can wreak havoc on wood frame decks. It’s not uncommon for typical builder grade decks around here to show signs of deterioration after exposure to moisture or begin warping with drastic changes in temperature. These issues can cause critical places Owner:

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What is your building philosophy?

“Building” and “philosophy” may seem like subjects that are on opposite ends of the spectrum, but the latter should come into play for builders. Most successful contractors don’t just build stuff. They have a mindset that includes specific ideas of what they are about. They develop their own style, the customer experience they want to deliver, and the types of projects they want to build. They possess beliefs of what reflects well on them as a builder, and a proven approach to people. They have set standards that they operate within and look at their business as a long-term undertaking. They understand that decisions made now affect them in the future. They build and maintain a reputation accordingly and know what they want to be known for. They don’t just take jobs. They match themselves up with projects and customers that fit. They don’t just ask customers what they want and give free estimates. They consult and help them understand their options and lead them through a process. The best will not deviate from their standards even if a customer would spend money with them for something cheaper. They realize that sometimes something cheaper doesn’t reflect well on them in the long run, so the profit gained up front doesn’t outweigh the potential consequences of a less than stellar reputation down the road. Their philosophy is to operate in a way that includes most, if not all, of the above aspects and one that they can be proud of. It also provides the best chance of a positive long-term reputation, success as a business, and profitability. So, what is your approach to building? Do you challenge yourself with the job types or do you offer options because they are easier to build? Do you deliver the kind of projects you

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Contingency

With any luck, the global pandemic will soon be in the rearview mirror. It has been devastating for countless families and small businesses who have suffered loss of life and livelihood. Ironically, for anyone who has anything to do with building, the pandemic has created unparalleled consumer demand for home-related products and services. That combined with historically low interest rates has caused a buying frenzy that has resulted in labor and material shortages not experienced in recent times. A shortage of skilled labor certainly is not breaking news. However, who would have dreamed that we would experience vinyl and potassium shortages and that lumber prices would go through the roof? Making a decent profit can be a challenge under the best of circumstances, but it can be a real chore when labor and materials are in short supply and prices fluctuate at the blink of an eye. That’s where contingency comes in.  The Oxford Dictionary defines contingency as “a future event or circumstance which is possible but cannot be predicted with certainty.” That pretty much describes what’s going on in construction world. The idea of including a contingency in your cost estimates should not be a new phenomenon. A contingency is a cost that should be included in every cost estimate even in the best of times when prices are stable, and labor is readily available. You might say that you don’t need a separate line item for contingency because you mark up your labor and materials such that you can make a decent profit. That might work for some, but for many who offer material and finish allowances to their clients, it can be problematic and confusing. You will always need to mark up your product to make a profit. And you should also always include a contingency to

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