Sunday, May 22, 2011

Story of one flooring manufacturer's effect on it's town

This blog post is a follow up story to my last blog post about the impending tariff on imported Chinese hardwood.
Mannington is a family owned, fourth generation, flooring materials manufacturer. It is one of the most recognizable brand names in the floor industry. They manufacture tile, hardwood, laminate and carpet products.
However despite producing quality products and having a very recognizable brand, they were just one of the many U.S. based flooring companies that were deeply affected over the past decade by the Chinese hardwood flooring importers. Not only did the unfair advantage the Chinese companies have affect Mannington, it affected its employees and the communities their plants were located. The following link shows a video of how they all are starting to rebound after the good news of the impending tariff:

Brian Heltzel

Sunday, May 15, 2011

U.S. vs. Chinese hardwood flooring, who will win?

U.S. vs. Chinese hardwood flooring, who will win?
Many people are speculating how the new tariff on hardwood flooring importerd from China will affect the current industry. Many people are excited to see the playing field leveled for U.S. based hardwood floor manufacturers. Some consumer hate to see the low prices of Chinese hardwood flooring disappear.
With the details of the tariff rumored to become more clear in the next 7-10 days when the regulations are expected to be inforced, many people are waiting impatiently to see how they will be affected. Whether they are a manufacturer, distributor, dealer or consumer, every player in this industry will have to make changes.
Here is a link to an article published by Hardwood Flooring magazine that goes into more detail of the investigation and outcome of the practices of the Chinese government and hardwood manufacturers:

Brian Heltzel

Saturday, May 7, 2011

How To Choose Your Remodeling Contractor

As anyone who has any experience working with a Home Remodeling Contractor will tell you, finding the RIGHT contractor for your project is never as simple as just finding the lowest price. Less tangible items like your ability to communicate and feel comfortable working with your contractor will inevitably be much more important in determining your eventual satisfaction with the job – particularly if it’s a large renovation project.

Ask Your Friends,Family & Neighbors

More often than not, we have someone close to us who has remodeled his or her home in the past. Ask around to your friends and family to see if they have any recommendations for a Remodeling Contractor they had a positive experience with.

You can also start your search with local building associations, like the Building Industry Association of Lancaster, PA, the National Association of Home Builders or the Better Business Bureau for accredited contractors in your area. First and foremost, you want to make sure the contractors you find specialize in Home Remodeling and not Home Building. While they sound similar, they are VERY different.

After you get a few names, find their website online to do a little beginning research.

Get Several Specific Written Estimates

Different contractors can vary widely on pricing and level of detail even when bidding for the same job. Make sure and get several estimates (at least 2 or 3), especially if it’s a big project. As much as possible, make sure that you explain the job fully to each of the contractors to ensure each one bids on the same exact job so that you can compare the estimates more effectively. You may consider brainstorming or jotting down your own ideas for the project ahead of time so you are prepared. You also want to make sure they are professional contractors who guarantee their estimate. You don’t want to find out after that fact you owe them A LOT more than you were told!

Can They Provide References?

A true professional Remodeler should be able to provide you with references of homeowners they have worked with. Talk with these past clients of your prospective contractors’. Some good questions to ask are: Were they satisfied with the work? Was the job site kept clean? Did the contractor keep to the agreed-upon schedule? Did the contractor return their phone calls and/or emails?

DO NOT Automatically Accept the Lowest Bid

The old saying “you get what you pay for” applies here. A higher bid may be worth the price in better materials, workmanship and reliability. A large number of complaints filed against contractors are the result of homeowner taking the lowest bid and then being unhappy with the low quality of work. Even when the contractor promises to do the same job, be careful – often unprofessional and inexperienced contractors will bid a job extremely aggressively in order to get it. If the work takes longer than originally planned, the contractor can feel ‘squeezed’ by the budget and try and cut corners. What you ‘save’ up front could easily cost you when they don’t guarantee the estimate and charge you much more then promised. It could also actually DECREASE the value of your home because of unprofessional work.

Is Your Contractor Properly Insured?

Always ask your contractor for a copy of his proof of liability insurance and workman’s comp insurance or the name and number of his/her insurance agent to call and verify proof of coverage. A short phone call can save you hours and hours down the road, as well as A LOT of money.

Most Importantly… Do You Trust This Person?

When it comes down to it, the most important thing to check is your own instincts. How do you feel about this contractor working on what is probably your single largest investment – your home? Do you trust this person inside your home? Around your children? Can you communicate well with this person about the project? Are they ‘in tune’ to your needs? Are they an expert and experienced in the type of project you’re looking to get done?

I hope you found this information useful. Choosing the right contractor for your project is the first & most important step to guaranteeing your satisfaction, and will make all the difference in the long term. If you have any questions, feel free to email me at

Brian Heltzel

Monday, May 2, 2011

National Remodeling Month!

May is designated as National Remodeling Month because more people begin remodeling projects in May than any other month.
Have you been thinking about remodeling your home or business?
Many people are asking themselves the question on whether or not they should remodel with the current economy and housing market. We find that many people are finding it difficult to sell their homes in this economy so they are making the decision to stay put in their home and make improvements. Not only will these improvements generally improve the value of your home, but presumably your quality of life as well.
The average American home is over 30 years old, and more than 80% are over 16 years old. An older home may need considerable repairs, or just revamped with modern amenities. Remodeling may be a component of good maintenance, providing an opportunity to improve and upgrade as needed repairs are made.
When looking for a qualified contractor for your next home improvement project, start by asking friends or family members who have had a good working relationship with a remodeling or flooring contractor. Contact your local BBB or NARI organization. Taking these steps will help ensure you find a quality contractor to help protect your investment in your home.