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©2009 Marvin Windows and Doors. All rights reserved. ®Registered trademark of Marvin Windows and Doors.












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Landmark Homes: Designing flexible and functional living

4 President’s column Calculate PBA’s value to you

7 PBA benefits add up New Member Benefits Calculator shows that it pays to be a PBA member

11 Builders Benefits: It’s worth checking out Builders Benefits health insurance program is offered exclusively through PBA Benefits Trust

12 Builders know best A roundtable discussion from PBA members highlights the best advice they’ve received

14 Meet the builder Plan to attend this year’s Meet the Builder Oct. 15 in Duncansville

Member Insider Member briefs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . On the hill.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Scaffolding safely . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ‘Time and materials’ practice evokes questions. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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Keystone Builder

Volume 6 • Issue 5 • September/October 2009

18 Member spotlight





Cover designed by Chris Anderson

8/19/09 11:57:03 AM

Keystone Builder cover designed by James Robinson

Associate Vice President Jim Miller, Lancaster County BIA Secretary Ray Venema, West Branch Susquehanna BA Treasurer Joe Harcum, Wayne County BA Immediate Past President Ray Fertig, York BA Executive Vice President Doug Meshaw Editor Eric C. Wise Associate Editor Chris Anderson

PrintComm Staff Publisher Kevin Naughton Assistant Editor/Publication Director H.J. Hormel Graphic Design Jason Gabel Advertising Sales Manager Brenda Poe Advertising Sales Jeff Pinwar • 800-935-1592, ext. 118 Address correspondence to: Keystone Builder 600 North Twelfth Street Lemoyne, PA 17043 Phone: 800-692-7339 or 717-730-4380 Fax: 717-730-4396 Web: E-mail: Advertising does not imply acceptance or endorsement of the products contained in the publication.

President’s message

Vice President Joseph Mackey, Pocono BA

by Gene Kreitzer • PBA President

President Gene Kreitzer, Lebanon County BA

Calculate PBA’s value to you


s I meet with members from my own local association and throughout the state, one thing that catches me off guard is that so few members are taking advantage of all the benefits Pennsylvania Builders Association offers. I suspect that if you surveyed the 143 directors who attended the PBA board meeting in July, you would find that the majority are not aware of every one of the 27 core benefits the association has available. Of course, some benefits are well known to just about everybody, and the group as a whole has members who are taking advantage of each benefit. But my goal is to have every member use all the benefits to which they are entitled. Members are no different than anyone else in trying to assess their business expenses, and we know association membership is an expense that comes under review. That’s why we want members to understand the value of their investment – plus what it could be, if they took better advantage of their investment. This issue of Keystone Builder documents the new PBA Member Benefits Calculator, designed to show members the value of belonging to the statewide builders association. A narrated slide show that explains and walks you through the process of filling out the scorecard is posted at As you will see from the article and Benefits Calculator scorecard (on pages 7-9), the calculator breaks down each benefit and helps you assign a value for each. I have heard from members who have come up with $500 or more – several times the amount of their dues that goes to PBA. In addition to the 27 core benefits from PBA, members have access to dozens of benefits from their local associations and from National Association of Home Builders. Check in with your local association and visit the NAHB web site at to ensure you capture all the benefits of your three-tiered membership. Once you take a few minutes to fill it out, the PBA Member Benefits Calculator is an eye-opener. Take a look, and you will find why being a member of PBA pays you back. s

Publishing and advertising sales services provided by:

2929 Davison Rd. • Flint, MI 48506 Phone: 800-935-1592 • An Exclusive Publication of the PBA Keystone Builder magazine is published six times a year by the Pennsylvania Builders Association®, Editorial Offices, 600 North Twelfth Street, Lemoyne, PA 17043. With the exception of official association announcements, the statements of fact and opinion that are made herein are the responsibility of the authors alone and do not reflect an opinion or philosophy of the officers or the membership of the PBA. Materials may not be reproduced without written permission from the PBA headquarters. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Pennsylvania Builders Association, 600 North Twelfth Street, Lemoyne, PA 17043. SUBSCRIPTIONS: Subscriptions available through membership to the Pennsylvania Builders Association.


I Keystone Builder • September/October 2009

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Built to Stand the Test of Time

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Introducing Builders Insurance Group to Pennsylvania Longevity. Stability. Reliability. These are the hallmarks of Builders Insurance Group. For over 16 years, we’ve delivered competitive prices, flexible coverage and technology solutions to our partners in residential and light commercial construction throughout the Southeast. Now, we’re pleased to bring our proven products and attentive customer service to Pennsylvania. Workers’ Compensation and General Liability from Builders Insurance Group is available exclusively through the independent insurance agents of Keystone Insurers Group.


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To locate an agent in your area, visit or call 1-888-892-5853. KSBM_0909.indd 6

8/19/09 11:57:07 AM

PBA benefits add up! M

by M.H. Morrison embers of Pennsylvania Builders Association know that there are benefits to their membership, but the recently developed PBA Member Benefits Calculator puts a price tag on them. Many may find that joining PBA actually puts money in their pocket. The goal of the new tool is to help members utilize all of their benefits. However, the calculator only outlines PBA benefits and does not take into consideration the myriad of benefits provided by local builders association and National Association of Home Builders. “Traditionally PBA has attracted members because of our strong insurance programs. But today, PBA offers so much more,” explained Scott Elliott, PBA public relations director. “The new PBA Benefits Calculator informs our members about 27 other major PBA benefits that are available to them automatically but which they might know nothing about.”

New calculator The PBA Benefits Calculator consists of two parts: a narrated multimedia program and a paper scoresheet for “calculating” the value of each of 27 primary PBA member benefits and membership as a whole. The calculator is available online at, or a CD can be requested from Chris Anderson at canderson@ or at 800-692-7339, ext. 3011. In either format, the multimedia program is 29 minutes, but the “slide show” has an easy-to-follow table of contents so that viewers may move to areas of particular interest. Rich Robinson, administrator for PBA’s Member Rebate Program, said that while the calculator itself (the printable document) is very strong, “the video is more powerful. You can see how to recoup your dues easily, without even writing anything down.” Also, local builders associations affiliated with PBA have copies of the Benefits Calculator and presentation. Staff members from PBA are attending local meetings as another avenue for understanding the new calculator and all of the benefits of membership.

Calculator as recruiter The PBA Benefits Calculator was designed to not only retain members and remind them of the value of their membership, but also to recruit new members. “It is an excellent sales tool to grow membership numbers, especially when you add the value of NAHB and local membership to the equation. Even on the lowest dollar rating of the many benefits, a prospective member would be hard-pressed to not come up with a four-fold value for the investment,” said Chuck Hamilton, executive officer, Lehigh Valley Builders Association.

Growing and retaining membership is important to PBA for a variety of reasons. When lobbying in Harrisburg or meeting with legislators, a larger association membership makes more of an impact. With a larger pool of members, the potential for even greater savings on group insurance increases. At the same time, PBA operating costs are lowered, while allowing for better service and more benefits. “Members tell us that networking is the number one PBA benefit, so having more members offers even more options to make networking successful,” said Elliot. He added that within two hours of the calculator being posted on PBA’s web site, a person, who had watched the program, inquired about membership. “This shows the program can work as we’ve envisioned it.”

The hows and whys PBA’s innovative Benefits Calculator and presentation was developed by PBA’s public relations department as a team project over the course of about six months, first using PowerPoint and later an inexpensive software program that created the current presentation. Robinson said that in this economy everyone is looking to add to the bottom line and keep overhead low. The benefits offered by PBA can do just that. He pointed out that the Member Rebate Program recently gave back $100,000 to 109 members. That works out to an average of $981 per participant. “PBA deserves credit,” he said. “Other associations might have one or two benefits. PBA strives, even in a market like this, to give back to their members. That’s what the calculator shows – what PBA has put together for its members.” s

September/October 2009 • Keystone Builder

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Benefit description

Calculate savings

Networking opportunities

Value to member = ? • Board mtgs, regional mtgs • Meet the Builder • Cmte involvement • And other gatherings

PA One-Call

PBA covers $50 annual fee

Member Rebate Program

Typical builder = 5-10 houses/yr Ave. rebate/yr = $950

Office supply discounts

Yearly amount spent on office supplies X 10%

Marketing advantage gained from use of PBA brand

Value to member = ? • Use of PBA logo on all marketing materials • Increased credibility of your co. image

Hire a lobbyist to monitor legislation or to move bills forward

$100/hr to monitor, estimated private sector cost $2,500/month on retainer to advocate Issues: RTT, impact fees, building moratoria, UCC, registration & licensing, stream buffers, etc.

Access to UCC consultant

$50/hr estimated value to hire private consultant

Access to regulatory consultant

$50/hr estimated value to hire private consultant Issues: Chesapeake Bay, stormwater management, endangered species, environmental regs, etc.

Access to PBA field representative

$50/hr estimated private sector value

Access to a technology consultant

$50/hr estimated value to hire private consultant

Access to PR consultant

$50/hr estimated value to hire private consultant (Includes customized media contact lists)

PBA educational seminars

$100/seminar is the market value Issues: Marketing, media, home sales, technology, selling to builders, stormwater management, etc.

Discounted rates on PHRC seminars

$35 savings each seminar; $120 savings annual conference

Annual educational audio CD

$50 suggested value

Keystone Builder magazine 6 issues/year Devoted to housing industry topics

Annual subscription to local paper = $100-$300 Annual subscription to Newsweek = $40 Annual subscription to Reader’s Digest = $15

TradeSecrets 24 issues/year

$25 suggested minimum value


Value to you

I Keystone Builder • September/October 2009

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Benefit description

Calculate savings

Daily news clips

If purchased individually = $4,000/year Value to you?

Op-ed columns to influence public debate statewide

$2,400 real cost to produce. Value to you?

Associates Council

Value to you

• Value of information that helped you make a sale? • Value of professional development advice?

Work force training certification

How hard to find skilled trades people = ?

Discounted insurance rates

What are you saving? • Health insurance • Workers’ compensation

Aflac medical/disability insurance

Cost to employer = $0 Cost to retrain when employee leaves = ?

Comfort Home program

Value of this marketing advantage?

Statewide PBA awards

Value to member = ? • Marketing advantage for award winners • Prestige for industry from statewide PR

PBA Industry Action Fund

Helps PBA and your local fight legal cases: Mandatory fire sprinklers, unfair DEP regulations, and more

Issue advocacy

Example: “PA Prosperity Report” countered Brookings claims that sprawl is hurting our state’s economy

Web site with homebuilder info available 24/7

Value to member = ? Home improvement contractor registration, UCC info, monthly building permits by county, online seminars, and more

Total of member benefit savings = Cost of your PBA membership = GRAND TOTAL OF YOUR ANNUAL COST OR SAVINGS =

September/October 2009 • Keystone Builder

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I Keystone Builder • September/October 2009

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MemberInsider September/October 2009

Member briefs

Spur new business in only three minutes, attend Meet the Builder 

NAHB supports home improvement stimulus bill

Imagine making as many business contacts in one night as you’ll make in months. Imagine more competitive bids and finding new suppliers and subs. Now, stop imagining and attend  PBA’s 2009  Meet the Builder! on Thursday, Oct. 15, 6:30-8:30 p.m., at the Duncansville VFW, about 10 minutes from Altoona. Meet the Builder is a trade show-type event during which associates meet the region’s top builders. Associates (PBA members pay $35 per person, nonmembers pay $75 per person) have three minutes to meet one-on-one with builders, allowing time to introduce themselves and products or services. Builders (PBA member builders attend for free, nonmember builders pay $75 per person) gain exposure to a diverse group of suppliers who ensure their current vendors’ bids are competitive.  This year’s Meet the Builder will focus on members from Blair, Bedford, Centre, Indiana, Armstrong, Somerset, Cambria, Huntingdon, Clearfield, Mifflin, Juniata and Franklin counties. While the event will focus on this region, anyone is invited to attend. Joe Galantino, a 2007 and 2008 Meet the Builder attendee, said, “I’ve been to two Meet the Builder events, and walked out of both with multiple jobs. It’s definitely worth the price and even a drive across Pennsylvania.” For more information and to register, visit or contact Chris Anderson at 800-6927339, ext. 3011.

Congress is now considering the proposed Home Improvements Revitalize the Economy Act, which would provide $2,000 ($4,000 for joint filers) in tax credits for taxpayers investing in home improvements that meet selected environmental standards. The bill would reward those buying environmentally friendly products during 2009 and 2010.

Board endorses Kevin Brobson, Joan Orie Melvin for judicial posts PBA’s judicial task force presented the board with recommended candidate endorsements for the state appellate judicial seats to be decided this year. After debate about the qualifications of each candidate, the board decided to endorse Kevin Brobson of Harrisburg for Commonwealth Court and Joan Orie Melvin of Pittsburgh for state Supreme Court. Further information about these important elections will be forthcoming.

PBA members encouraged to ‘do business with a member’ The PBA associates council is working to reinvigorate the message of doing business with other PBA members. Giving other members an opportunity to bid on your projects gives you more competitive pricing, while also helping fellow members who are looking for work. Everybody wins! In the next few months, you’ll see this message appearing more frequently in PBA publications as a reminder that when members do business with members, we all benefit.

Successful trade students listed on PBA web site PBA members now have access to a list of students who were awarded PBA Skills Certificates based on achieving the competent and advanced levels in both written and practical exams. The PBA endorsed trade program utilizes the National Occupational Competency Testing Institute exams for skills assessment in carpentry, plumbing, masonry, electric and HVAC. Members are urged to contact students who have achieved competent or advanced levels in testing, as they have demonstrated advanced knowledge of their chosen trade. Visit to access lists of 2008 and 2009 graduates recognized for their trade skills.

Coalition earns significant NAHB grant The Northeast Pennsylvania Builders Association Coalition earned a $22,500 grant from NAHB that matched local contributions. Continued on page B Member Insider • Keystone Builder

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PBA supports revisions to home improvement contractor law

On the hill

The state House is considering a bill already approved by the Senate to revise the Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act that took effect July 1. PBA leaders identified issues that have developed and negotiated a remedy with key legislators and the attorney general’s office. At press time, PBA expected that the bill, Senate Bill 973, would reach a full House vote before the summer was over. Issue: The law sets a maximum one-third deposit for home improvement contracts at $1,000, a threshold that is unreasonably low for contractors. Remedy: SB 973 raises the deposit cap to $5,000. Issue: All home improvement retail installers are limited to collecting a maximum deposit of onethird the cost rather than the total price. Remedy: A retail installer who desires to collect 100 percent of the cost when the order is placed can file an irrevocable letter of credit to the attorney general in the amount of $100,000 per store location under SB 973. Issue: The state budget does not provide the attorney general additional funding for enforcement of the Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act. Payments for registration fees are deposited in the state’s general fund. Remedy: Contractors’ $50 registration fees would be placed in a restricted account controlled by the attorney general. Issue: Requirements in the current law mention special order materials that “have been ordered,” which is unclear and can cause confusion among contractors. Remedy: The text will be changed to special order materials “will be ordered” for clarification.

Sprinkler mandate may be removed by law Several legislators are supporting the passage of a law to remove a requirement for residential fire sprinklers from the 2009 International Residential Code before it takes effect in Pennsylvania. Background: Pennsylvania’s technical review and advisory committee voted against eliminating fire sprinklers or any other items from the Uniform Construction Code prior to its implementation. The state Department of Labor and Industry is expected to adopt the code for implementation in January 2010. PBA opposes the sprinkler mandate imposed following controversial International Code Council hearings in 2008. Proposal: Affordable housing advocates including PBA support House Bill 1809 and SB 1001, identical bills that would allow municipalities the option of requiring sprinklers in single-family homes rather than forcing a statewide sprinkler mandate. Update: PBA expects legislators to hold hearings to discuss the merits of a sprinkler mandate by October.

member briefs Continued from page A

Funds will be used to promote awareness and membership growth in local builders associations through mixed-media advertising in the region. Local associations participating in this coalition include the Lackawanna HBA, Wayne County BA, Pike County BA, BIA of Northeastern PA, Carbon BA, Endless Mountains BA and Pocono BA. These seven local associations have done an impressive job of leveraging the $22,500 NAHB grant to increase the total value of the complete advertising package to more than $60,000, including the match being provided by local media outlets. This grant award demonstrates the value of locals joining together to accomplish more than any could have achieved alone. B

Follow PBA on Twitter for up-to-the-minute news With more companies using the much-publicized web site Twitter for instant customer communications, PBA is now taking advantage of this new technology, too. Members are urged to sign up for an account to follow the activities of their state builders association online. Twitter is a great tool to receive timely news briefs relating to the housing industry (each message is limited to 140 characters), and PBA will be using the service to share housing industry news, member benefit information and more. PBA would also like to follow members’ companies’ “tweets” to keep up-to-date with your business. Visit PBA’s Twitter page at To create a Twitter account, visit

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Scaffolding safely by M.H. Morrison alls from scaffolds are one of the leading causes of serious and fatal injuries in residential construction, according to the National Association of Home Builders, making it imperative that employees follow safe practices when using this ubiquitous piece of construction equipment. While one article cannot cover every scenario and precaution, the following information touches on the highlights of scaffolding safety. Cliff Jones, an instructor, College of Construction and Design at the Pennsylvania College of Technology, said the top safety violation he saw when he worked on construction sites was not properly leveling, plumbing or creating a mudsill for the scaffold. He said that he saw workers throw a rock at the base of a scaffold buck instead of using adjustable feet, or those who would allow the scaffold to just sink into the mud.



OSHA rules


The following rules are a brief overview of the very extensive regulations

from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. • Guardrails or personal fall arrest systems are required for workers on platforms more than 10 feet high. • Working platforms/decks must be planked close to the guardrails. • Planks are to be overlapped on a support at least six inches, but not more than 12 inches. • Legs, posts, frames, poles and uprights must be on base plates and mudsills or on a firm foundation. They must be plumb and braced.

Safe use In a detailed online presentation from NAHB, a list of some of the most important requirements for the safe use of scaffolds includes: • Erect/dismantle all scaffolds according to the manufacturer’s instructions. • The capacity of a scaffold must support four times the intended load. • Stable footings consist of base plates, screw jacks and mudsills. • Platforms should be at least 18 inches wide; ladder jack, pump jack, top plate, and roof brackets can be 12 inches wide.

• The front edge of all platforms should be within 14 inches of the face of the work with the exceptions of three inches for outrigger scaffolds and 18 inches for plastering and lathing operations.

Training Jones said that there should be training on all aspects of scaffolding, such as how to set it up, including how to pick up the bucks and planks to prevent injuries; how to use a safety harness; how to tie off a safety harness; and how to use a ladder to access the scaffold. “I’m a proponent of safety meetings at work,” he added. NAHB’s presentation emphasized that all employees must be trained prior to working on scaffolds and that a qualified person should conduct the training.

Resources Both the Occupational Safety & Health Administration at and NAHB at have information about scaffold safety as well as the regulations governing its use.

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‘Time and materials’ practice evokes questions under new home improvement contractor law by Jim Hutchins his is the ongoing saga of time and materials, and how this practice relates to Act 132, the state’s Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act. In the 14 years of discussion that preceded the passage of the act, the time and materials practice was never mentioned. I can tell you that I have never dealt with a topic where there are more suppositions, presuppositions, assumptions and presumptions. The problem is that most people cling to their own preconceived notions – they are mostly wrong. It is the definition, folks, that is the primary problem with time and materials. Most assume they know but do not. So, forevermore, here’s the definition: “Time and materials” is a construction practice where the contractor and homeowner first agree on a total sales price under which the contractor will perform the home improvement and the owner will pay the contractor under the home improvement contract based on the actual cost of labor at a specified hourly rate and the actual costs of materials and use of equipment. Plus, the owner will pay an agreed upon percentage of the total costs or a fixed amount to cover the contractor’s fees and overhead costs reasonably incurred in the performance of the home improvement. For the purposes of this definition, the terms “guaranteed maximum price” and “price not to exceed” (ceiling price) are the same as or equivalent to the total sales price. Now, I can tell you point blank that contractors fairly utilizing contract amendments and change orders while providing disclosures with specificity may continue to use the concept of time and materials. The question is obvious … just how do you do this? Here is the easiest way. When the job is estimated by a time and materials formula, the contract must clearly state the total sales price. The contract should plainly disclose the set rate and the cost of materials. The contract should also plainly disclose how time



b Editor’s note: This column is not intended to be taken as legal advice. The column expresses the views of the author and does not represent the views of the Pennsylvania Builders Association. will be computed – for example, in increments of quarter hours, half hours or hours. I strongly advise you to be as specific as possible with the above. Remember, Act 132 calls for the plans and specifications to be listed on the contract. For example, list on your contract “10 manhours @ $25 per hour + $500 material cost = $750 total sales price.” When the total sales price is reached, a written instrument must be issued. This instrument must be specific, addressing remaining work to be accomplished. It is a “prohibited act” under Act 132 to agree to any material change without a written contract modification. You can either issue a change order or re-write another contract. One word to constantly keep in mind as you proceed is this: disclosure. Now, what are we going to do to put an end to this confusion? You can expect to see a legislative fix-it initiative. The seeds are in place to introduce a time and materials amendment that will clarify just how the time and materials practice can be used in compliance with Act 132. One common misunderstanding about the time and materials practice is that it’s open-ended. It is not. This stems from mistaking time and materials with indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity. This practice is clearly prohibited by Act 132. It is this very confusion that has been our biggest obstacle to date. By extension, the planned legislative fix will clarify this, too. I am available to discuss the topic (provided you promise not to sue me). Please e-mail me at with any questions or concerns.


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I Keystone Builder • Member Insider

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Builders Benefits: It’s worth checking out by M.H. Morrison ealth insurance is a hot topic of discussion on the national level, but Pennsylvania Builders Association is way ahead of the curve with its ongoing endorsement of the Builders Benefits program that is offered exclusively through the PBA Benefits Trust, which has provided access to affordable health insurance options for nearly 30 years. In late 2006, the PBA Benefits Trust launched Builders Benefits to give PBA members a choice for quality health insurance at an affordable price. By entering the marketplace, Builders Benefits increased competition for medical insurance in the state, pushing down rates for everyone, explained Steve Rock, CEO of Builders Benefits, Harrisburg. At this time, the organization has 21,200 customers made up of members and their employees and dependents.


Choices In addition to its various Preferred Provider Organization options, Builders Benefits offers Health Savings Accounts, a tax-exempt trust or custodial account that can be used to pay for qualified medical expenses. This account can be funded by the member and the employer. One of the advantages is that employee contributions are tax deductible, and employer contributions are excluded from gross income and not subject to employment tax. Also available are Health Reimbursement Accounts, which are employer funded, and/or Flexible Spending Accounts, which are employee funded. Both provide tax advantages and help employees and employers reduce the cost of health care coverage. These accounts are often combined with high deductible plans, which have lower monthly premiums when compared to plans with no or low deductible levels. Most recently, Builders Benefits has broadened its range of products to include deductibles up to $5,000. The Builders Benefits program is always changing to provide the best in care at the lowest prices. For example, in 2009, NurseLine became available. This 24-7 hotline provides members access to a registered nurse for any general health care questions, which has saved members unwarranted trips to the emergency room and saved them money, helping to keep their overall health insurance costs down.

For information, to work directly with an agent or to request a quote, visit, or call the Customer Service Center between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, at 888-221-2550. Prospective members can also learn more about Builders Benefits by contacting their local builders association. Visit for contact information. Using Builders Benefits also supports PBA and its programs. “Each month, Builders Benefits provides revenues in excess of $100,000 to PBA and its locals for administrative and marketing support. That’s well over $1 million annually,” said Rock.

Beyond health care Builders Benefits also offers member groups dental, vision, life, long-term disability and short-term disability plans through the PBA Benefits Trust. Additionally, members can take advantage of wellness programs to keep employees healthy and costs contained. My ePHIT includes custom fitness and personalized nutrition plans. Other wellness programs, such as health risk assessments, smoking cessation, weight loss initiatives and stress relief, are made available to members at cost. “Healthy members help reduce the overall cost of the health plan,” said Rock.

Why Builders Benefits? Rock admitted that Builders Benefits is not the best option for everyone, but even if Builders Benefits didn’t make financial sense in the past, PBA members should check into the plan again because prices, needs and plans offered vary from year to year. Builders Benefits representatives will prepare a proposal customized for your company. Also, in a July 2009 survey, nine out of 10 members would recommend Builders Benefits. “The bottom line is Builders Benefits is PBA’s health insurance plan of choice,” said Rock. “As more employers come together under this plan, the bigger the savings become for each group, the more revenue is generated for PBA and the stronger the plan becomes.” s

Better with the group The medical expenses within the building industry tend to be lower than within the general population, Rock said. This advantage is combined with a number of cost-control measures available to the self-insured Builders Benefits plan. The savings are then passed on to PBA members enrolled in the health insurance plan. Rock said that Builders Benefits keeps its administrative costs lower by managing its own enrollment and billing. Because it is owned by the members, Builders Benefits is not looking to build massive reserves, so savings translate into lower premiums.

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Phone #: (717) 335-0705 Fax #: (717) 335-0632 15 years experience Full service electrical work #PA009731

September/October 2009 • Keystone Builder

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Builders know best e h t s ’ t a h W ce best advir you eve received?

Members help members by sharing what they have learned

gs and the in th ll a m s e th Pay attention to re of themselves. ke ca big things will ta ent of s Miller, presid

— Jame er ction, Lancast u r st n o C r e n r Miller Wa

by M.H. Morrison ne of the many benefits of membership in Pennsylvania Builders Association is the opportunity to get together with other builders and industry leaders to discuss problems and solutions. In fact, networking with other members is always high on the list of reasons to join and maintain membership in PBA. So, Keystone Builder has created an industry roundtable within its pages. We asked members two questions: What’s the best piece of business advice you ever received? What’s the best lesson you have learned in the business world?


sistent toward r e p e b d n a , ls a o pressed x e Create written g , n la p e it n fi e d aving a achieving them. H will keep you focused on on, in continuous acti . Persistence is required als achieving your go istent quality work for many Continued on page 14 s n o c s e k ta it e . s s s u beca cessful busine c u s a d il u b to r e years in ord xcel , president of E r. J o d n a ir M — Jim Be a good liste ction, Lemoyne ru st n o C & ner. … ts p e c n o C r o Interi I believe that by listening y o u are giving th s th g n e at customer tr s r u o y t h e r e Work within s p ect they deser lf with the e s ve. r u o y d n u o H r r e a d d e and su d t t u h o a e t c un o will balan people often w fortunately right people wh ant to jump in . s e s s e n k a a n e d take over con your w er ss versation, u M f o t n e d resi p b r, u e t ss u t h M e ff y e should s —J s, Dillsburg Home Builder to what custom top and listen er they want or t s are saying hink they wan t. —

Rob Jones, v ice president Glick Associa of tes, Shamokin Dam


I Keystone Builder • September/October 2009

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September/October 2009 • Keystone Builder

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builders know best Continued from page 12

What’s the best advice you ever received? I think lessons from In Search of Excellence, along with its advice “ are timeless.”

— Jim Hutchins, president and CEO of Centennial Homes, Blakeslee

(Hutchins’ comments were taken from In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America’s Best Run Companies by Robert H. Waterman Jr. and Thomas J. Peters.)

The following is a selection of the advice/lessons that Hutchins shared from the book: 1. U  se active decision making – an attitude of “getting on with it.” 2. L  earn from the people served by the business. 3. T  reat employees as a source of quality. 4. S  tay with the business that you know. 5. S  ome of the best companies have minimal administrative staff.

2009 Meet the Builder • Sponsored by PBA 6:30-8:30 p.m. • Thursday, Oct. 15 • Duncansville VFW (near Altoona)

You’re three minutes from new business Imagine making as many business contacts in one night as you’ll make in months. Imagine more competitive bids and finding new suppliers and subs. Now stop imagining and attend Meet the Builder, an event specifically designed to generate new business. Builders gain exposure to potential suppliers. Associates have three minutes to meet one-on-one with top regional builders. This year’s Meet the Builder centers on Blair, Bedford, Centre, Indiana, Armstrong, Somerset, Cambria, Huntingdon, Clearfield, Mifflin, Juniata and Franklin counties. But all members are welcome to attend. This year, Meet the Builder is open to nonmembers as well. For more information and to register, visit or call 800-692-7339. 14

I Keystone Builder • September/October 2009

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Stev and C Hill, s who op 50 com can’t d Scha tion, n ultima the peo He a respon pate in intervi that i culture just du “In b of the that’s can be true st Beca are ne any lev opport expect Thro he has for com “Eve the ne his gra nizatio For clearly ence, custom groups “Goo volume He s corpor Netflix rental The web si choices update will be date, receive favorit “A st right f have le I conti

Pumping up the advice Steve Scharnhorst, president and CEO of Excel Homes, Camp Hill, said that he once worked for a man who operated a multi-billion dollar Fortune 50 company, who taught him that: “You can’t delegate hiring the right people.” Scharnhorst explained that a corporation, no matter how large or how small, is ultimately a success or a failure based on the people who operate it – at every level. He added that busy executives have a responsibility to set aside time to participate in and drive the hiring process. When interviewing, executives must be certain that interviewees are interested in the culture of the business and are not there just due to happenstance. “In building a great business, it’s about all of the people. If you have a few standouts, that’s great. But what a success a business can be when each and every employee is a true standout.” Because no matter the business there are never enough customers, mediocrity at any level of the company is bound to waste opportunities to exceed those customers’ expectations, Scharnhorst said. Through his business experience, he has learned that there is no substitute for communication. “Everyone wants it, all customers profess the need for it and any consultant worth his grain of salt will tell you that your organization lacks it. But what does it mean?” For him, communication starts with clearly understanding the needs of the audience, whether it’s employees, vendors or customers, and then seeking to keep those groups informed every step of the way. “Good communication is less about volume and more about frequency.” He said one of the best examples of good corporate communications comes from Netflix, the world’s largest online movie rental service. The rental company has an easy-to-use web site that allows customers to narrow choices and then keeps the customer updated through e-mail on what movies will be shipped and the expected delivery date, which returned movies have been received, and which choice from a dynamic favorites list is available for shipment. “A steady communication effort with the right frequency is one of the best lessons I have learned in my business career and one I continue to strive for.”

You have to be patient. When “ opportunities come up, you have to be prof essional.” — Michael Kurpiel, marke

t development manager for ProBuild and its liaiso n to the National Home Builders Associatio n and to local and state builders associations

GO GREEN! let us help you grow your business . V isit one of these locations :

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More and more home owners are thinking “green” when it comes to remodeling the exterior of their home. Norandex is committed to providing energy-efficient, renewable/recyclable/sustainable products that are both environmentally friendly, and provide you the opportunity to market legitimately “green” products for long-lasting home owner benefits with minimal environmental impact. Best of all, these “green” products come in a variety of beautiful colors and styles, that require practically no maintenance, and are strongly warranted for their quality and performance. Contact your Norandex representative about the benefits of the following “green” products: SIDING






They’re just a part of an extensive line of exterior building products available from Norandex Building Materials Distribution.

Continued on page 16 September/October 2009 • Keystone Builder

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builders know best Continued from page 15

t s e b e h t s ’ t a Wh e v a h u o y n o less e h t n i d e n r lea ? d l r o w s s e n busi

Only promise what you “ can deliver.”

— James Miller, president of Miller Warner Construction, Lancaster

k to change ic u q e b d n a , s r e b Know your num t. Last year, when we saw onmen dicator of nearwith your envir in t s r fi e h (t n w o wd our lead flow slo w we had to adjust our budgets kne term sales), we nged from a a h c e W . ly g in d cor and overhead ac to a more defensive posture. on growth orientati hange in order c to s u d e ir u q e tr en the lead h w Our environmen s e g n a h c e aking th in time to e r tu c u to survive. By m tr s e r to e were able flow reduced, w ash flow. c d n a e m o c in t ts & preserve our ne terior Concep

t of Excel In Lemoyne Construction,

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lways right. a t o n is r e m to s The cu cliché (The ld o e th t a th d e Jones explain t always true o n is ) t. h ig r s y a customer is alw have informay a m r e m to s u c d because the /she has been le e h r o g n o r w is tion that can’t just say: u o Y . n o ti c e ir d in the wrong listening e r e h w is is h T .’ g ‘No, you’re wron versation becomes an con comes in as the erience. educational exp ciates,

ck Asso resident of Gli Shamokin Dam

vice p — Rob Jones,

Do every job with “ excellence and alwa

ys put the client’s needs first. As a result, in time, you will establish a solid reputation that results in consistent client referrals.

— Jeff Musser, president of Musser Home Builders, Dillsburg

A lot of sales associates are “ being asked to go out

and get business [but] don’t sacrifice now for the future. He added that it is important to take the time to build a long-lasting relationship with customers rather than focusing on a quick business deal.

— Michael Kurpiel, market development manager for ProBuild and its liaison to the National Home Builders Association and to local and state builders associations 16

I Keystone Builder • September/October 2009

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with your customers/clie nts. When a customer comes to our bank, they are possibly making one of the biggest decisions in their life and that is to purchase or build a home – the American dream. Theref ore, they want to make sure they’re deal ing with a reputable financial instit ution.

— Mary Pucciarella, senior underwriter/ vice president of pers onal banking at Reliance Bank, Altoon a


SATURDAY, SEPT. 19, 2009 – 9AM Located in Saville Township, Perry Co, 5 ½ miles west of Ickesburg, PA along Shenandoah Drive, signs off Route 17 – Buckeye Ridge 30 acres of woodland with marketable timber. A very private tract overlooking Buffalo Creek nestled in the ridges, excellent for your hunting camp.

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SATURDAY, SEPT. 19, 2009 – 12 NOON Located in Spruce Hill Township, Juniata Co, 3 minutes south of Port Royal, PA along Mountain Road, signs off Route 75 – 20 acres approved sub-division consisting of 8 2+ acre building lots overlooking the Tuscarora Creek Valley with beautiful views. Plan to build here. SATURDAY, SEPT. 26, 2009 – 12 NOON Located in Carroll Township, Perry Co, along Sherman Drive and Dark Hollow Road, 3 miles north of Shermansdale, PA and 8 miles south of New Bloomfield, signs off Route 34 – 175 acre Perry County farm (Fisher Farm) with 19th Century stone dwelling, bank barn and other farm buildings surrounded by and bordering beautiful flowing Shermans Creek, 65 acres woodland overlooking this pleasing property, 105 acres level deep loamy creek bottom soil top off the property – fulfill your dreams with this once in a lifetime property selling at auction. SATURDAY, OCT 17, 2009 – 12 NOON Located in Carroll Township, Perry Co along Huckleberry Road, 3 miles south of New Bloomfield, PA just off Route 34 – 90 acres of woodland with township road frontage, an easily accessible tract of ridge land with excellent development potential – check this out without delay. SATURDAY, OCT 24, 2009 – 12 NOON Located in Susquehanna Township along Spig’s Hill Rd, 7.5 miles east of Richfield and 7 miles south of Mt. Pleasant Mills, PA. 80.854 Subdivided acres. A very private, pure country, property with township road frontage sitting on top of Dressler’s Ridge with beautiful faraway views. Plan to buy and build today. For terms or more information on these properties, contact Bryan D. Imes and Sons, Auctioneers today at 717-527-2449 or visit

To sell your land or real estate at auction contact: Bryan D. Imes, Auctioneer, AU-001656-L, 522 Center Rd, Port Royal, PA 17082.

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Member spotlight

Landmark Homes

Designing flexible and functional living

by Tess Wittler hen Cliff Weaver started in the building trade in the early 1980s, the economy was tough. Mortgage rates were through the roof and jobs were scarce. He was fortunate enough to find employment working for a builder who built energy-efficient homes. Through hard labor and determination, he learned the trade. In 1998, he and his brother, Clair, founded Landmark Homes. Based in Ephrata, Lancaster County, Landmark Homes serves seven counties in Central Pennsylvania, building between 120 and 200 homes annually. This contractor builds many products – from apartment buildings to custom-built homes – but Landmark’s niche is the move-up buyer who is looking for a customizable home. “We pride ourselves in being flexible with our home designs,” Cliff Weaver said. “We will modify our standard plans, where we can, to create the home the customer wants to fit their lifestyle.” It is exactly this customer-focused attitude that has allowed Landmark to trudge through the recent housing market correction. Cliff Weaver admitted that he didn’t predict when the housing boom would cool off. “We prepared ourselves in the event that this would happen so we could weather through it,” Cliff Weaver said. “As a company, we’ve tried to remain optimistic and take the challenges we’ve been presented with and turn them into opportunities.” As smart businessmen, the Weavers are always looking ahead. For years, they served the needs of the baby-boom generation. Now that the boomers’ children are grown, they are looking for a different type of community to fulfill their social needs. Four years ago, Landmark started Landmark Living 55+, and they currently have five 55+ communities under construction in the region. “Like all of our communities, we focus on providing our customers with community living and upscale styling,” said Cliff Weaver. A big shift Landmark made about two years ago was in their approach to marketing. Their marketing agenda now pushes traffic to their web site.



“Whether it is advertising on the Internet or traditional print or radio advertising, we direct customers to the web site and make sure it holds the information a potential customer needs to decide to build with us,” Cliff Weaver explained. “Everyone’s become more computer-savvy, so it is important that our web site is attractive and helps secure that inquiry, or better yet, a sale.” When asked about what housing will look like in the future, Cliff Weaver noted that he sees home designs needing to be extremely flexible in their livability, with rooms that serve multiple purposes – whether that is an office or a bedroom. He added, “We’ll see some of the excess – like two-story rooms – not as important as people focus less on the home’s volume and more on the home’s functionality.” It is Landmark’s long-standing and sincere approach to building flexible living into each of their homes that will continue to distinguish them from competitors. Landmark’s owners pride themselves on being new home builders committed to meeting each and every one of their customers’ needs. s

Business quick facts: Landmark Homes • Years in Business: 11 years • Counties of Operation: Adams, Berks, Cumberland, Dauphin Lancaster, Lebanon Clair (left) and Cliff Weaver founded Landmark Homes in and York Lancaster County. • Local Associations: BIA of Lancaster County, Lebanon County BA, York County BA, HBA of Metro Harrisburg and HBA of Berks County • Association Involvement: BIA of Lancaster board member from 2002-05 • Awards Won: Multiple Parade of Homes awards from Berks, Lancaster and Harrisburg • Web site:

I Keystone Builder • September/October 2009

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Re:Connect Re:Focus 2010

NAHB International Builders’ Show®

For the first time ever, NAHB Members can receive a 4-day exhibit registration at NO COST! That means that for four days, you can attend the building industry’s largest event for FREE.* This is a $125 value and will put you face to face with the hottest suppliers in the industry! Register at today! *Register by December 11, 2009. After December 11th there will be a $75 charge that will then jump to the onsite price of $125 after January 18th.

January 19-22, 2010 | Las Vegas |

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Fifty million Americans use propane today in innovative ways in the home, on the road and on the farm. Propane is a clean, domestic fuel that cuts air pollution and reduces our consumption of foreign gasoline and fuel oil. It’s why propane is part of the Pickens Plan. Get smart on propane at

PA Propane Foundation (717) 441-6040

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Keystone Builder-September/October 2009