The latest news and other interesting stuff.
October 27, 2017
The ProDealer Summit in Phoenix last week was highlighted by Ivy Zelman’s presentation. Ivy is the founder of Zelman and Associates who is focused on US housing market analysis. Ivy, known as “Poison Ivy” by her bosses at Credit Suisse when in 2006 she called the housing bubble in the midst of the robust market we thought would never end. She followed up to call the 2012 bottom, again more accurately and ahead of her peers.
Following are my notes from her presentation:
Age in place: Retired people are staying in their single-family homes past 80 years of age, limiting the supply of homes for millennials. Remodeling is driven by debt/equity ratio in housing. Currently 30% of single family homes have no debt, 5% have greater than 20% equity, 4% are underwater. Combined with the single family home average age of 41 yrs., Ivy is “Bullish in Remodeling”. People have money to spend and homes need the upgrading.
Construction labor market is tight, but not getting worse having leveled.
Land development is at the most active point since the downturn with developers profiting from subdividing C grade raw land. A reflection of the high demand.
The increased flexibility and support from the banking industry providing home mortgage loans is a story not getting out. FHA loans for 3.5% down for borrowers with 620 FICA scores are widely available.
Home mortgage interest tax deduction changes will be limited to homes over $500,000 and home owners with an annual income over $100,000 (which only make up 14% of home owners). Second homes will likely lose the tax deduction. Overall, Ivy believes it will have little if any impact on the housing market.
Demand: Millennials are getting married, having babies and wanting space to grow their families. Surging demand beyond obstacles, new homes are in broadly short supply.
Ivy is projecting housing starts to increase 12% in 2018 and 10% in 2019. As of today, the top 10 publicly traded production builder stock prices are up on average 82% in the past 52 weeks. Wall Street seems to agree with Ivy’s calculations.
When the question was asked whether increasing prices of softwood and panels will be an obstacle, her comment was along the lines of “don’t hesitate to increase your prices they need your materials.” National Production Builder profit margins are 19-22%, the market demand can handle the increase in material expense.
The gasp from the crowd was hard to miss.
Published every other week by Ivy and her team, The Z Report is rooted in proprietary research and opinions and void of advertisements, focusing exclusively on rich content for executives and business leaders that removes all the noise of volatile and unreliable macro data. We encourage you to visit The Z Report webpage to learn more and sign up for a free trial subscription.
Dr. Robert Dietz, the Chief Economist from NAHB, also presented. His review was more conservative projecting 7% increase in single family housing in 2018 and another 7% in 2019. Student college loan debt increasing 220% in the past 10 years, 1.9% GDP projection, and labor constraints were highlights to his position.
These slides in his presentation I found the most interesting. US Wage Growth is 2.5% across all industries, seems like a low hurdle for our industry to draw talent from other sectors.
Overall US Productivity from all industries from 1993 to present has increased 25%, over the same time period the construction industry is a flat 0% increase. In the past 25 yrs. construction productivity has not changed. The World Wide Web was first tested in 1993, fax machines, pagers, 4% of the population had a giant box cell phones, this was the technical status of 1993 – and the construction industry productivity is the same as 1993. What an immense opportunity! The dealers that develop productivity improvements in construction will have the greatest competitive edge and profits will follow. Might be a solid topic to start your next strategic planning session?
August 28, 2017
It is convenient to blame the talent pool when leaders are struggling to generate quality candidates. As you run your normal traps, internet job posting, leveraging your network, offering finder fees to your people ask the key question; What steps are you taking to access the talent rich, Passive Candidate Pool?
Sourcing Passive Candidates can be difficult as the best professionals are not job searching. Rather they are focused on their day to day challenges at work, while supporting their families and personal well-being. Hiring companies face more complex hurdles when attempting to reach this talented group. Following is a list of natural obstacles companies face when trying to source Passive Candidates:
- You are a competitor, creating an inherent atmosphere of distrust
- Confidentiality breach, risking candidates’ current career position and income
- Your network is designed to know your customers, not your peers. Certainly not your peers outside of your served market area
- Your angle is to sell them on your position, making your actions predictable and biased
- It’s a time and resource drain for leaders
Misura Group approaches professionals to help them reach their personal and professional goals. As a 3rd party, that guarantees confidentiality, with personal coaching expertise and a database focused on the Building Products industry nationally provides us with the resources to be effective with the toughest search projects.
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August 14, 2017
“To be egoless one must withstand repeated attacks of success” – Ryan Holiday
If you think you are safe from the silent darkness of ego, the book’s rich stories of powerful leaders who have fallen at their own hand may shift your perspective. Whether subjecting yourself to the Greek tragedy, or minor displays of ego driven behavior, understand that it comes with being human and affects everyone. Ego is the salve we all crave that soothes the fear and insecurity. Following is an action overview of the book Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday. The book caught my attention after reading that when Pete Carroll asked Bill Belichick what recent great steps he has taken to improve his team, Bill sent him a copy of this book.
Here are the top 10 steps to manage your ego:
1: Be fact driven. Suffocating egos with facts and hard data is effective. Warning: one must develop great intestinal fortitude to become effective at this step. Ignorance is bliss behind rose colored glasses.
2: Pursue regular self-evaluation with detachment. The reason 360 Degree reviews are so effective. With detachment is key.
3: Embrace continuous improvement. The first step in learning is admitting there is much you don’t know, further being concerned that what you think you know, might be wrong.
4: Avoid passion, focus on purpose. Passion is unbridled enthusiasm and a form of mental retardation, deliberately blunting our most cognitive functions. Purpose is like passion with boundaries.
5: What is your purpose? What are you here to do? Answer these questions every day.
6: Create a grand purpose that is larger than you. Now your standards of achievement have become more difficult and easier at the same time. Might be my favorite point of the book.
7: Stay present with decisive action. A person who thinks all the time has nothing to think about except their thoughts losing touch with reality. Idle action allows depression and anxiety to set in, both of which are merely our egos at work.
8: Do not talk or write about your potential success. It saps your energy away from taking action. Silence is the respite for the confident and strong. The only relationship between work and chatter is one destroys the other. “Those who know do not speak, those who speak do not know.” Lao Tzu.
9: How do your Performance Standards rate? Compare yourself or business model to industry peers. Best way to fool yourself is to stay in your bubble.
10- Have a mentor to look up too, peer to compete with and someone you are mentoring. Many do this at work where personal economic rewards are the goal. Challenge yourself to also achieve this in an environment absent of economic motives. Might be the most powerful words I took out of the book. A clear path into the most powerful universal energy.
“If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.”
― Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms
To your measured success and resiliency through failure! -Tony
July 21, 2017
“There are no bad soldiers only bad generals” – Napoleon
The book The Generals by Thomas Ricks struck such a chord with me on the topic of leadership and team building, that I feel compelled to share the key points of the book. With the global political crisis looming in September of 1939, General George C. Marshall received a clear directive from FDR. His mission was to build a world class army, and fast. He inherited a feeble ill-equipped army of 190,000 troops. Many of the officers were hold over veterans from WWI waiting to retire. What was the first step he took knowing he had to build a giant Army 40x its current size? He fired 600 officers, keeping only 11 of 43 Generals. He created a preferred leader profile and objectively removed those leaders who were risk averse, plodding, or lacking the energy, passion and skills needed to perform at the top most level.
What was the outcome of this risky leadership move? From 1939 to 1944 the Army grew from 190,000 troops to over 8,000,000. It was an army that made mistakes, but learned and adapted from those mistakes at a pace that left British leaders astonished. The initial firings created opportunity, attracting the best young, flexible and eager to learn leaders who were engaged in growing their military careers. In 1941, Eisenhower was a Colonel, rising to become a 3 Star General and Commander in Chief of the Allied forces in the following year; that is 3 promotional levels in 1 year.
General Marshall’s secret was respecting the strategy of relieving officers as being part of the process of individual development and growth, and is essential to protecting the desired organizational culture. Accountability becomes the energy behind adaptability, when leaders delay terminations, they also diminish the rigor of the organization’s culture. The risk of getting fired is the price leaders pay for having a high level of autonomy and the freedom to be self-directed. General Marshall said, “When a general complains of the morale of his troops, the time has come to look at his own.”
What is the greatest factor in determining the outcome of wars: strategy, tactics, logistics, technology or personnel policy?
The American forces in the Korean War suffered from poor leadership under the egomaniacal General MacArthur who was removed by Truman for cause. He was replaced by General Ridgeway, who was capable and effective, but the military leaders struggled to recruit officers to serve in Korea for fear it might blemish their career paths. Unfortunately, the US Army continued its rapid decline through the 1960s and ’70s. Ricks makes a compelling case that the devastation of the Army’s culture was a result of their policy of 13-month tours for soldiers, and 6-month rotations for officers, combined with little to no enforcement of performance standards. The My Lai disaster and the lack of repercussions for the officers and top leaders conducting the cover up was the defining peak of “Good Ol’ Boys” policy among the Army’s generals. My Lai was so embarrassing, the Army decommissioned the entire Americal Division. You can read of the blind ego of LBJ, and the incurious and foolish General Westmorland, but modern generals agree, the personnel policy of new young soldiers with no experience being led by officers with no experience on 6-month rotations was the prevailing failure. Protecting Officers’ careers became the primary goal, not protecting soldiers, ethics or winning the war.
Does your company suffer from Institutional Mediocrity?
Fast forward to modern times, rarely is a general relieved. The few times it does happen it’s for personal foibles, not for performance in command, and it is done by civilian leaders, not within the ranks of Military leadership. In the Iraq War, a private who loses his rifle receives a heavier penalty than a general with weak command who loses the battle, or even the war. General Mattis is the one of a few Army leaders to relieve a general in the past 20 years. General Mattis was quoted as saying, “Even Jesus Christ had 1 out of 13 not make the cut.” His vision of accountability driving adaptive growth is a glimmer of light.
What is the result of this culture in our time? Brigadier General Mark Arnold commented that when 94% of all Colonels receive a promotion in the same year, “that rings loudly of institutionalizing mediocrity”. The personnel equivalent of Gresham’s Law is that bad leaders drive out good ones. A study in 2010 by the Army Research Institute concluded “that the main reason talented people leave is not the lure of a lucrative civilian career, but because mediocre people stay in and get promoted.”
Thomas Ricks does his homework as Pulitzer Prize winning authors should, referencing personal letters, diaries and testimonials delivering a nuanced perspective of every general since WWII, in a quite candid style. It’s a leadership themed book with much to be mined. Many stories of great generals, Bradley, Abrams, Ridgeway, DePuy can be added to the list alongside Marshall and Eisenhower as models for us to strive towards. Reading how tactical focus not only undermines the ability to think strategically, but seems to erode desire to do so was insightful. However, by far the most shocking revelation are the seemingly endless examples of the power of personnel policy.
What does this mean to the leaders in the Building Products Industry?
For 20 years I have had the privilege of watching and working with many owners, leaders and companies across the US as a national recruiter. Here is what I have learned:
- We can accurately predict which companies will gain market share by the strength of the owner and the top leader of the company.
- We actively list the best owners and leaders to target as our clients.
- We are as diligent listing the weak and incapable owners and leaders whose egos make them helpless, as we know it will be easy to recruit away their best talent.
- Both lists are equally important.
Rigorous 360 reviews and re-assigning or firing poor leaders are essential tools in building great companies. Your people deserve the best leaders providing the best chance of winning in this competitive world today.
July 5, 2017
Talent acquisition is one of the most important factors in the success of a business. Done right, a good hire will make a huge impact on your organization – and likewise if done wrong, the negative impact could be detrimental. You know what you are looking for in a leader – so why work with an external recruiter to find talent? Ask yourself these three questions to see if your current strategy is yielding the best results.
Do you really know your talent pool?
Sure, you can post your open position on a job board and receive multiple applications. But what percentage of the talent pool is actually looking? Of those looking, how many are actually a good fit for your company? Recruiters find the best talent – regardless of whether they are job hunting. We have the ability to not just fill a job, but find the individual who aligns best with all aspects of the position and your company.
Do you have the time and resources to find multiple truly qualified candidates to choose from when hiring leadership?
An open position is costing you money. Can you afford to wait for talent to come to you? A recruiter brings in pre-qualified candidates so you can get right to the selection process. But not all recruiters are created equal. We consistently provide 5-7 qualified candidates within 2-3 weeks so the candidate can begin making an impact on your organization.
Is your current strategy working?
To find the right candidate you need access to a national network of top talent – passive candidates who probably view you as a competitor. You have to remove the barriers of emotions, biases, and complacency. As a third party, we can remain objective and focus on the opportunity. Bottom line, there is an individual that is the best fit for the position and your company – and we will find them.
Do you really know your talent pool? Do you have 5-7 candidates to choose from when hiring for leadership positions? Is your current strategy working? If you answered “no” to any of these questions – contact us today to learn more about how working with Misura Group can make an immediate impact on your organization.
May 30, 2017
Companies typically spend more on hiring in sales than they do anywhere else in the firm – but the right sales hire can bring in a huge return on investment.
In the HBR article “The Best Ways to Hire Salespeople” Frank V. Cespedes and Daniel Weinfurter reinforce some key tactics in hiring Sales professionals:
- Hire for the task
- Focus on behaviors
- Be clear about relevant “experience”
We would rank their 8-point score card in the following order:
Ability to learn:
If you are teaching a sales class, what 3 books will you reach for to prepare?
Outdated books often equal outdated thinkers; those who struggle trying to solve new world problems with old world thinking.
And those who can’t list any books, well… move on!
Prioritization of tasks:
How do you manage your time?
Triaging time is key. Don’t use the word “prioritization” and see how long it takes for them to bring it up.
Develops sales leads:
What is your business development practice?
The best have a practiced system they are continually evolving.
Who is a perfect client for your top competitor?
Knowing your company’s value proposition and how it aligns with your customers’ needs is a solid first step. Knowing the competition is better.
Commits time and effort:
How do you move through the emotional lows of the selling cycle?
Resiliency is an art and science. The best know both.
How do you manage the risks of a multi-tasking profession?
Sales is a common landing zone for those with ADHD. Awareness is the key.
What do your customers need that they are unaware of?
Uncommon and hard to find in an OSR. It can be a struggle finding this in a VP of Sales, much less Sales Managers.
Controlled work approach:
Are they consistent?
What are examples of inconsistencies in your work habits? If they have nothing, they are insecure and lying. To be human is to struggle at times with inconsistency.
Be tough, strategic, and consistent with your interview process!
Are you taking control of your sales? Learn more.
May 18, 2017
Why do leading private equity investment companies like Building Industry Partners trust Misura Group to help them grow? We know the best industry leaders. Building Industry Partners is focused in the U.S. middle-market building products industry.
“We have high expectations, but Misura Group has delivered excellent President talent for our Evergreen Lumber and Split Rail Fence companies.”
– Zach Coopersmith, Managing Partner, Building Industry Partners
Recent 2017 Placements
Organizations that focus on their people first win big. Contact us to discover the excellent talent in our industry.
February 20, 2017
“Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” ~ Yoda
Simply stated, our mission is to help professionals navigate planfully through their careers.
Our recent article on non-competes was written with the intent of enlightening professionals to the common miss-steps. The themes and human patterns are there for you to compare with what you see from your perspective, in your world:
- Ego and emotions clouding the judgement of otherwise top critical thinkers and professionals.
- New employees feeling vulnerable to prove their value at great legal risk.
- People paralyzed with fear blindly making legal comments, with some companies leveraging that fear to their benefit.
January 9, 2017
We would like to congratulate Building Industry Partners and Allan Breidenbach, CEO of U.S. Fence, for their recent acquisition of Binford Supply. Binford Supply, is the second addition to support U.S. Fence’s install and distribution growth strategy.
Misura Group placed Allan as the CEO of U.S. Fence last year and we have enjoyed watching him impact the business. If you are a great company searching for a great leader in the building materials industry, contact us and we will help find your next successful executive leader.
January 5, 2017
It has been pleasure partnering with our long-time clients and building new business relationships with some of the industry’s leading companies. We value the trust they have in our firm to bring impact to their organizations.
November 14, 2016
In the ProSales Article “Life After LBM“ Craig Webb did a terrific job of outlining succession planning challenges facing our LBM owners and leaders.
July 23, 2016
Misura Group is honored to collaborate with LBM Journal at their upcoming conference in Charlotte September 6-8. This year’s event will be filled with presentations and open panel discussions allowing for best practice sharing and learning.
- Increasing Your Sales In Today’s Hyper-Competitive Reality
- The “Wow” Factor: Making Your Company a “Best Place to Work”
- Panel Discussion: Real World Strategies to Attract, Hire & Retain Millennials
- Panel Discussion: M&A Strategies: True Tales & Horror Stories
- What Next? Is Your Company Ready for its Next Chapter?
- Beyond Selling Sticks: Grow Your Business by Leveraging Services
- Strategy Z: Overcoming the Tyranny of Price Competition
- Getting Paid: Credit Management Strategies that Work
Conference Promotional Offer
Visit the LBM Strategies 2016 Conference website to learn more about the conference and to register. And now through July 31, apply promo code LBMTM16 and receive a $250 discount on your registration fee.
May 20, 2016
I am excited for the LBM Strategies 2016 Conference and honored to be listed with the excellent collection of industry leaders. As the conference approaches, I’d like to highlight the following event taking place:
Panel Discussion: Real World Strategies to Attract, Hire, and Retain Millennials
- Wendy Whiteash, SVP of Culture, US LBM Holdings
- Caitlin Stoll, Happy People Department Leader, Drexel Building Supply
- Moderated by Tony Misura, President, The Misura Group
Wendy, Caitlin and I will highlight the personal stories of recruiting success hiring the next generation. The stories will deliver insight and dispel the myths around the LBM industry being unattractive to Millennials. Through discussion, we will break down the barriers and misconceptions and sift through the stereotypes to reveal what’s real and what’s not.
January 5, 2016
It has been a pleasure partnering with our long-time clients and building new business relationships with some of our industry’s leading companies. We value the trust they have in our firm to bring impact to their organizations.
Mill Creek Lumber & Supply
Gary Poulos – President
Rick Vancil – Executive VP
Greg Kimbrell – District Mgr.
James Wallace – GM
HPM Building Supply
Adrian Murphy – Sr. Buyer
The Detering Co.
Analisa Pratt – Design & Sales
JP Hart Lumber Company
Duane Sanders – Div. President
Brandon Natale – VP Purch
Marvin Window and Doors
Jason Carmichael – Terr. Mgr.
Mill Creek Carpet and Tile
Gary Cissell – President
Building Industry Partners
Allan Breidenbach –
Great Southern Wood
Jeff Biddy – SYP Buyer
Cornerstone Building Alliance
Rakky Putnam –
Sales & Purchasing
We look forward to contributing to your success in 2016!
The Misura Group Executive Recruiting Team,
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