Al’s column

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NAME SEARCH: The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) is seeking names for its new e-newsletter and is holding a title-naming contest through April 30. The contest winner will receive a complimentary admittance to its International Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Council of Associations conference and trade show later this year. Hank Unck, IICRC marketing committee chairman, said, “We are open to any type of name pertaining to the Institute or the industry—funny, poignant or straightforward. Our hope is that a great title, coupled with great content, will help encourage people to subscribe to and read our bi-monthly updates,” which will be distributed to more than 13,000 recipients in the cleaning and restoration industries.


SUBMISSIONS: If you have an idea for IICRC’s new newsletter, you can submit to Courtney Scharff at Don’t forget to include your contact information. The winning entry will be determined by a panel of judges consisting of representatives from IICRC’s marketing committee as well as other leaders from the organization. The winning name will appear in the May 2013 issue of the IICRC e-newsletter, which has been revamped with new content, including facts about the carpet and restoration industry, profiles of IICRC registrants and certified firms and educational articles developed to help industry professionals improve their business processes. Vist to learn more about the association. To see its latest version of the newsletter, got to newsletter.


HOUSING NEWS: There’s been some mixed news about the housing market as some indicators say it has not been as strong as most would have liked, especially after a solid start to the year. But according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/First American Improving Markets Index (IMI) the list of improving U.S. housing markets expanded for a seventh consecutive month in March. The latest IMI includes 274 metro markets, a gain of 15 over February, with entrants from all 50 states. Rick Judson, a home builder from Charlotte, N.C., and NAHB’s chairman, said this is the second consecutive month in which every state is represented, but noted, “There could be an even more potent force for economic growth if credit for building and buying homes was more readily available.”


SOLID FOOTING: David Crowe, NAHB’s chief economist, stated with just over 75% of the 361 metros covered by the IMI now seen as improving, “the housing market is on considerably more solid footing than it was at this time last year.” While he expects the positive momentum “to continue,” Crowe cautioned, “it’s important to understand many markets are just beginning the recovery process, and numerous issues—from credit availability to the rising cost of building materials and emerging lot shortages—are slowing the pace of that advancement.” Nonetheless, Kurt Pfotenhauer, vice chairman of First American Title Insurance Co., said, “With the understanding there are still a lot of uncertainties in the regulatory arena, it looks like we are finally seeing the beginning of what could be a broad and deep recovery of the nation’s housing market.”


LABOR SHORTAGE: One area that may slow the housing recovery beyond the issues mentioned above is a shortage of labor as residential construction firms are reporting an increasing number of shortages in all aspects of the industry. The lack of work is partially attributed to the fact many skilled workers were forced to seek employment elsewhere during the recession and are no longer available. “What used to be high-paying, skilled jobs vanished as builders across the nation went out of business or were forced to let workers go,” Judson said. At its peak, more than 1.4 million housing related jobs were lost.


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