Archive for the 'Helpful Hints' Category



Hiring Tips & Advice

“Rebuild Your Team” by Steve Linsky

At some point in the near future (we hope!) you may need to add new employees to your team. It’s been so long since most companies have had to recruit employees that sometimes the skill set to get back into that groove may have eroded by the layoff of your HR folks, or actual recruiter, in the past.

Okay, what’s next? Here are a few ideas from an old recruiter (me) below. Note that I am including Social Networking to find folks as well as the old tools.

  1. Look at past high quality employees that may have left you and go back after them. They’re your best bet, since there would be little training needed.
  2. Network through your own employees for recommendations for folks they know in your field (maybe give a cash incentive, as well.)
  3. Use your LinkedIn account to see who your present connections are linked to within your industry to find targets.
  4. Place a note on your Twitter account that you are looking for help, in 140 characters or less, then re-tweet it a couple of other times over the next several days to hopefully show up at the right time on a prospective hire’s timeline!
  5. If you have a Facebook business page, and you should if you don’t now, place a note on your status of your openings. Hopefully, it’ll get liked and shared by others to spread the word. You can also place a Facebook ad on your home and profile page to show when anyone opens it.
  6. Use Craigslist. Great tool! You can customize by location and by using a couple of different job category placements. You do need to keep updating the advertisement to keep it current, but it’s worth the effort.

Lastly for today, place definitive ads that clearly state the qualifications you require to eliminate the unqualified “tire kickers” who will apply to anything. Remember the TV ad series that showed a guy applying for everything, including Brain Surgeon and Nuclear Scientist?

Good luck! We hope the day comes soon when your biggest problem will be hiring more people!

Steve Linsky
Marketing and Sales Specialist
Green Initiatives Coordinator
Past HR Director at National Lumber
National Recruiting Manager at Wickes Lumber
www.national-lumber.com

Getting Your House Ready to Sell

Getting ready to show your house for sale?

One thing about being in the retail business is that you move a LOT! After 15 moves and selling most of my houses myself, I consider myself as someone that knows how to prepare a house to look like a home to your prospects. Simply put, but effective, here are my tips:

  • Touch up the exterior landscaping to make it bright, neat, colorful and inviting. $500 will buy you new plants, shrubs, colorful throw pillows and a new bench for the yard.
  • Repaint your entrance door and door jambs to make it inviting.
  • De-clutter your interior, get rid of your knick-knacks, refrigerator pictures and everything you can on your countertops.
  • Get your house interior professionally cleaned (unless you are good enough to shine it up by yourself, especially the kitchen and bathrooms.)
  • Paint the interior rooms and ceilings wherever they need brightening up.
  • Add flowers and plants to the interior
  • Hire a professional stager if you can to give you another perspective. If that’s not economically possible, bring in a friend who has the “touch” for interior design based on their own home.
  • Clean up your garage and basement by bringing all of the extra stuff to charity resale operations like Goodwill or Salvation Army. The tax credit will be worth much more then what you’d get at a garage sale.

Everyone likes to look at a clean shiny, uncluttered and welcoming home. Do the work before you show your place and I guarantee you that the time, effort, and cost will come back to you by selling faster and getting the price it’s worth. Make people want to buy your place because they fall in love with it.

Steve Linsky
Marketing and Sales Specialist
Green Initiatives Coordinator
National Lumber

Keeping Up to Date with Industry Developments and Seeking Expert Advice

Partnership, collaboration, strategic alliance, business adviser… all mean the same thing: someone in the know that you can count on to help you with your questions, ideas and problems as they occur. There are many folks who can help us clear up issues and they may in fact come from some unique places, like:

  1. Your competition – Other contractors who you see at meetings or even in the coffee shop. What has happened to you, inevitably has happened to someone else. There are not many folks that won’t offer advice when asked for it.
  2. Your supplier salespeople – They should be considered as unpaid employees and most will treat you as a business partner if they are smart enough to realize that you butter their toast.
  3. Trade meetings and general training sessions – Go in with a list of questions! These are great opportunities to find out what is going on and to solve problems. People like to assist folks they know: “Brothers in Arms” so to speak.
  4. Social networking – The 20% of your brothers in your industry that are already on Twitter, Facebook, and other networks already know that they can get questions answered by reading what other folks are doing online and by gaining from the jewels and tidbits that are online daily. If nothing other then to keep you current, you should be on these, especially to see what your competition is doing!
  5. Paid coaches or advisers – Not everyone can afford this option, but if you go this route, be sure to check with other folks to get references for the best person available in your market.
  6. Websites specifically for your industry – Trade magazine websites, government sponsored sites, industry sites, etc. We post highly relevant links to such websites on our Facebook page every few days.

What else do you recommend to keep up to date on your industry or occupation?

Steve Linsky
Marketing and Sales Specialist
Green Initiatives Coordinator
National Lumber

Contractors: Why Twitter or Facebook?

Question? Are we only talking to each other on Twitter? Does Facebook only keep you in contact with your own unique group? In essence, what do you as a business person get out of the effort? My initial list of reasons to be on social networking sites is below…

1. Connect in a personal way with present, former and hopefully future clients.
2. Social networking offers an opportunity to promote and collect ideas and opportunities.
3. It lets you see what others in your industry are doing.
4. People like to do business with people they know. Do Facebook and Twitter contacts view us as People They Know?
5. Does it really open up a window of opportunity? Or is it just something to cater to our egos and social instincts?

What do you think? Are you in fact getting any leads or business from your efforts? Or is it more for fun and incoming ideas and relationship building? Comments welcomed!

Steve Linsky
Marketing and Sales Specialist
Green Initiatives Coordinator
National Lumber

Locating New Employees

Another great expert article from National Lumber…

Locating New Employees for Your Company
by Maria Fratiello, PHR & Director of Human Resources
National Lumber, Mansfield, MA

Recruiting the best employees for your organization is an ongoing challenge. Position requirements need to be determined. Payroll costs for an additional employee need to be looked at. Additionally, a salary range for the position should be determined. Look at in-house employees first. Providing opportunities for current employees boosts morale and can make your current staff members feel appreciated. Your employees can also recommend candidates to your company. Try spreading the position availability throughout the industry. A company website is an effective way to attract potential employees. Your vision, mission, values, goals, and products can be portrayed. Create an employment section which describes your available positions and contact information. Post your available position on an Internet site* or local college job board. Consider using temporary staff** as a solution to “try a person out” in a position.

A key component in determining whether the candidate fits the company culture is conducting a job interview. Narrow down applicants to those whose skills and work histories match the job description. Pre-screen applicants over the phone to make sure candidates understand the job and salary range  this could save time and money. Select candidates to bring in for face-to-face meetings. Have a second member of management meet the finalists to get their opinions on who seems like the best fit for the company.

Pursue every avenue to assure that the person you hire can do the job and contribute to growth. Be sure they are interested in the position and are satisfied with the salary. Make certain the candidate agrees to participate in a drug screen, background check, physical (depending on the position), and provides references. (The job application should have a sign-off giving permission for this.) You can make the job offer contingent on the results. Anyone who has stated qualifications dishonestly or who fails to pass the checks should be eliminated as a candidate. Unfortunately, past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior.

If you have any questions or comments, please email Maria directly at mfratiello@national-lumber.com

*Sites such as: www.employri.orgwww.careerworks.orgwww.craigslist.org

** Companies such as: Labor Ready, HW Temps, Monroe Staffing, East Coast Staffing

Buying Trucks – Expert Articles from National Lumber

From employment, to vehicle maintenance, to vendor relationships, National Lumber is striving to bring you informative content by compiling articles from our in-house experts.

Buying a new work truck? Here is what we look at…
By John Intravaia, V.P. of  Operations at National Lumber

Buying a new work truck is not too much different than a consumer buying a new car.  That is, we start with what features we need for that truck.  Then we shop around and settle for the dealer and/or manufacturer that will give us the best value for our money.  The internet gives us a lot of information, especially with the pickup trucks.  Fleet manager Bob Perry spends a lot of time with the various dealers acquiring information and price quotes.

For the heavy duty trucks, we typically will look at Freightliner, International and Kenworth for manufacturers.  We require certain specifications.  For example, our lumber trucks typically have heavy duty axles, tires, engines, suspension and transmission to better handle heavy loads over rough, jobsite terrain.

We also put a high value on driver comfort and safety.  Some trucks have noisier cabs than others, and some have smaller cabs than others.  We need trucks that have a big wide-open windshield for driver visibility.  And, with the small jobsites, a tight turning radius is always best.

For the last 4-5 years, Freightliner has meet our expectations regarding specifications at a fair price.  So, we have gone with them on the last seven of our lumber trucks.  On the pickup trucks, Ford gives us the best value.

How do you as a contractor determine what you need? And what brands or dealers do you favor?

Understanding R-Value and Avoiding Insulation Scams

Green Building Advisor has a great article on understanding R-value and avoiding insulation scams.

Here is an excerpt of this article:

“Some marketers of radiant barriers or spray foam insulation imply that R-value measurements are meaningless. On the contrary, R-value is a useful measurement. But just because you know a product’s R-value doesn’t mean you know everything necessary to predict heat flow through a wall or ceiling. R-value is just one factor among many to be considered when deciding which insulation to use. Builders must also understand many other topics, including air leakage and moisture movement. No one has yet invented a ‘magic number’ that replaces the requirement for builders to study and understand building science principles.

Does radiant heat pass through insulation like radio waves?

Another scare tactic employed by some marketers of radiant barriers is the idea that conventional insulation materials — sometimes called ‘mass insulation’ — allow radiant heat to pass right through them. Scam artists have been known to warn builders that ‘mass insulation is transparent to radiant heat.’ The implication is that a layer of aluminum foil is necessary to prevent radiant heat from traveling like radio waves right through a deep layer of cellulose.

In fact, most mass insulation products do a good job of stopping radiant heat flow. Radiant heat easily travels through air (for example, from a wood stove to nearby skin) or a vacuum (for example, from the sun to the earth). But radiant energy can’t travel through a solid material.”

Read the entirety of this article on the Green Building Advisor blogs.

National Lumber is here for all of your insulation needs. We are a proud retailer of Guardian insulation products. Learn more by calling 1-800-370-WOOD (9663) or by visiting national-lumber.com

Free Remodeling & Building News, Plus Best Practices

We here at National Lumber PRO Force have been enjoying a new, free daily e-letter that provides remodeling news, best practices and peer-to-peer engagement. It’s produced by Leah Thayer, an award-winning former senior editor at Remodeling magazine. It’s free to sign up, fun and engaging, and you’ll get it first thing every weekday morning. Enjoy!

Click here to sign up for the Daily5Remodel Newsletter

» Click here or on the image above to sign up for the daily5REMODEL newsletter

Buzzing on d5R
What’s the good news? “The strong survived the worst and they’re even better and more efficient than ever.
On health care reform: “Before the law was even signed last year, my premiums went up 23% in anticipation of some form of legislation.”
On a unified industry voice: “No change will happen without focused local and national efforts.”

What some remodelers are already saying:

“Daily5 has turned into a priority read for me and I wanted to let you know I was skeptical that it would be like all the newsletters I don’t read… but I think you have really captured the pulse of modern information distribution.”

“It’s upbeat, useful, fun, and eclectic. I haven’t seen anything else quite like it.”

“This daily update really is different. It’s diversified, not too heavy, gives lots of options and pulls industry and industry-related news together. I can glance at it quickly and decide what I want to see more of.”

“The quality and breadth of information is staggering!!”

“I read it on my blackberry in the AM!”

“Finally, a one stop shop for all my home improvement news!”

You can visit the Daily5REMODEL website by clicking here or on the logo in the sidebar.

To learn more about National Lumber’s PRO Force, visit www.national-lumber.com/pro

Free Deck Design Tools from Azek and Latitudes!

Azek Decking Products Latitudes Decking and Railing

AZEK Deck and Universal Forest Products (manufacturer of Latitudes Decking) are offering some great free deck design tools on their respective websites. The AZEK Deck Color Selector will help you decide what stains and finishes will work best with your home. UFPI’s’ Latitudes Deck Visualizer is a great tool to create your dream deck online, print it out, share it with your friends and family, and even email it to your contractor!

National Lumber is a proud retailer of AZEK Deck and Latitudes Decking products, as well as DecKorator connectors. We also carry Benjamin Moore Paints and Stains at five of our locations, as well as Cabot Stains. For more information, click on the brand names to learn more about these quality products from National Lumber’s eShowroom!

National Lumber
www.national-lumber.com/decks

“Red Means Lead” – LeadCheck For Drywall and Plaster

LeadCheck of Natick, MA logo

LeadCheck of Natick, MA

LeadCheck of Natick, MA has just announced that the EPA has recognized them and their products indefinite recognition for compliance with the RRP law. In a few weeks, they will have this recognition for testing for plaster and drywall, a very important place to check for lead paint. In the meantime, please check out the new technique and instructions on how to test for lead paint using the LeadCheck kits. Remember, “Red Means Lead!”

Additionally, LeadCheck now has a call center with EPA RRP Lead Safe certified pros that can answer any questions about not only LeadCheck, but about the entire rule in general.  The number is: 1-800-262-LEAD

LeadCheck lead testing kits are sold at our National Lumber retail locations. Please call or check out your local store for details.


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