Wednesday, February 22, 2012

MetLife Supports Interior Designers - Hartford Insurance raises our Rates

Just when you think you have heard it all - I received an over 500% increase on my insurance rate with Hartford Insurance even though I have never filed a claim and there was no increase to my benefits! What's next - they provide insurance to the AARP - are they going to consider aging a high risk proposition as well?
They want to increase my rate by over $10,000 for no reason other than they can. This is money that could be used to help the worthwhile non-profits we are involved in like Animal Rescue Corps , HomeAid and Genesis Womens Shelter.
I just spoke with Louise Dunne, Assistant Director of Business Compliance with Hartford. She did not want to go on record or have me use her name, but she said that "my business had performed well with them" and the problem wasn't me, it was that I'm classified as a designer. What she shared was really disappointing as far as how Hartford views the design community, and she made it clear that they don't really understand what our industry is about or what we do.
Unlike Hartford, Met Life has chosen to embrace the design community and has been very supportive of The National Association of Home Builders, The National Sales and Marketing Council, the 50+ Housing Council and has also been a major sponsor of The Nationals - the competition that recognizes design and marketing excellence in the home building industry. Guess who I'll be giving my business to?
Lesson learned? Do business with an agent and an insurance company that you have a relationship with so they will take the time to understand you and your business. Saving a few dollars up front is not worth the headaches and frustration that can come with those savings down the road.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mardi Gras Greetings

Daisy loves the Lifestylist® philosophy of Life Celebrating Style.  She is also open to any excuse to wear her favorite hats and attract attention.  Mardi Gras Greetings from Daisy the diva dog and the Lifestylist® family!

Friday, February 17, 2012

The International Builders Show Features Factory Built Homes by Palm Harbor

What a great, busy month this has been! This Lifestylist® has show houses to plan, new products to design and great conventions to attend... there just aren't enough hours in the day for all of the great opportunities that are ahead of us!
Last week I attended the International Builders Show in Orlando and after attending this convention for over 20 years I think this year was one of my favorites.
I am so proud to be a part of the National Association of Home Builders and to be involved in the modular side of home building. This was the year when I saw home builders really taking notice of what benefits factory built construction could offer them, and not only did we do a great job of talking about it - we also showed them.
There are meetings that go on before the Builders Show starts that help put in place best practices to promote and grow the housing industry. Councils cover various specialty groups, and I was impressed to see that Kevin Flaherty, Vice President of Marketing for Champion Homes was not only attending these meetings, he is also acting as Vice Chairman for the Building Systems Council. "The New Champion" is really showing their strength and commitment to the factory built housing industry, and not only are they active with NAHB, they are also becoming more active with the Manufactured Housing Institute. Kevin was a presenter in the NAHB News Conference "Industry Study: Characteristics of Modular Homes" and had great facts and figures about why consumers should consider buying a modular home.
Palm Harbor Homes presented three beautiful factory built homes in the Professional Builder Show Village showing a "Net Zero Eco-Home" that was a 399 sq. ft. park model, a modular duplex, and a modular luxury home. Tony Lucas the designer for Palm Harbor always does an outstanding job, but what he did with the Net Zero home really got people's attention. Tony added the architectural details on the exteriors that made you want to know and see more which is a lot of what you want a show home to do. It was interesting because another builder brought a home for the first time and it was in neutral colors and without much exterior interest, and many people (including myself) passed it by. I heard the home was beautiful inside, but only found that out after the show was over.
Builders were fascinated by the fact that the three homes were installed, furnished and decors added in 8 days. This was proof of one of the many benefits that factory built housing offers - time savings which results in cost savings. Will these homes result in sales for Palm Harbor? Ron Powell, President of Manufacturing for Palm Harbor Homes stated that "I haven't seen the statistics, but our internal feeling is that attendance at Show Village was better than last year. There were more attendees with solid projects in the immediate future. In the last few years, there were a lot of attendees trying to flesh-out ideas. This year, they've got land and are ready to go."
Besides having market driven homes at the show, I was also impressed to see Joe Stegmayer - the Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer of Cavco Industries, a director and officer of Fleetwood Homes, Inc.  and Palm Harbor Homes, Inc. ,and a director of Palm Harbor Villages, Inc working the show. How he has time to even attend something like this is amazing, and I said working not attending the show because every time I saw him he was helping a potential customer or answering questions. And in his "spare" time he is serving as the Chairman of the Board for The Manufactured Housing Institute. His hands on approach to the factory built housing industry is one of the reasons it will continue to be a force to be reckoned with.
One of the highlights of this year's show for me was getting to hear Ben Bernanke speak about the state of our economy and what's ahead for housing. More on that later, but to see more images from this year's International Builders Show, visit and "like" our Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/lifestylelist. I took over 2,000 photographs and I'm anxious to share my favorites with you.