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Education and motivation at the ProDealer Industry Summit

San Antonio -- The ProDealer Industry Summit continued yesterday with a full educational program that covered everything from the latest U.S. census data and its impact on residential construction to succession planning for family-owned businesses.

Connie Podesta, a motivational speaker and executive coach, gave a well-received talk that helped audience participants identify their strengths and weaknesses using geometric shapes. David Vandenbroucke, a senior economist with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, delivered a dark short-term forecast but a brighter long-term outlook.

“I don’t have much comfort to give right now,” he said, citing the shadow inventory of foreclosed houses and the disproportionate amount of income consumers spend on housing. “We’re going to be seeing what we’re seeing for at least another couple of years.”

But like the Harvard Joint Center for Housing, Vandenbroucke predicted an upswing in housing construction based on growing population needs. “There is a long-term tide that is moving in, [and] it’s going to require building more houses,” he said.

A presentation on remodeling by Joe Emison, the founder of BuildFax, an organization that aggregates building permits from MSAs across the country, focused on the trend toward “comfort” remodels and repair work as opposed to renovations that increase the value of a home.

Jim Schaffer, a former LBM executive (Diamond Lumber, Erb Lumber and Builders Square) who now does consulting work for the industry, addressed the issue of employee compensation. Schaffer cited a Deloitte survey finding that 75% of the U.S. employment work force are either discontented, disengaged or discouraged. He warned the PDIS attendees that once the economy recovers, “It’s going to be your top performers that are visible in the [job] marketplace.” Among Schaffer’s suggestions were to avoid across-the-board salary cuts and hold managers accountable for employee retention.

A dinner banquet honoring TW Perry as Pro Dealer of the Year capped off day two of the conference. The event, which is co-sponsored by the National Lumber & Building Materials Dealers Association and Home Channel News, ends today with a tour of McCoy's Building Supply in San Antonio.

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