Notes from the MIA Leadership Workshop, pt. 2

Oct 22, 2010 | Business

We were a sponsor of the Marble Institute Leadership workshop.  I also attended, and took some notes.  (see pt. 1, here)

Frank Anton is the CEO of Hanley-Wood, one of the largest media companies in the housing and construction industry.  Frank gave some predictions about the future, and although he was wary of predicting any specific outcomes, I was really impressed by the amount of data he shared from their data division.

Some stats that I found really interesting:

  • Number of baby boomers (born 1943-1960) in the US: about 60 million.  Number of echo baby boomers (born 1982-1995): about 80 million.  Based on those demographics, plus the fact that we add about a million people annually to our population through immigration, a housing recovery may be in the works as the new generation starts getting married, having kids, and buying their first homes.
  • There are about 115 million existing houses in the US, with an average age of 39.  Remodeling has historically been about 40%-50% of construction investment, and should continue to increase as the age of American homes goes up.
  • The top 5% of Americans by wealth account for almost 50% of the spending on remodels.  And the bulk of remodeling revenue is spent on kitchens.
  • Predictions for new housing starts in 2011 are over 600,000, compared to the 362,000 in 2009.

Mark Fernandes is the Chief Leadership Officer at Luck Stone, and told his company’s branding story from the last four years.  Luck Stone is an 88-year-old family-run company that makes the bulk of it’s revenue from aggregate stone, or as Mark said “turning big rocks into small rocks”.  About four years ago, they started a very thoughtful and intentional campaign to create a new brand.

Company president Charlie Luck gave Mark the mission to create a brand that would appeal to his children: fashion-conscious, forward-looking, embracing technology, and sustainable.  What they created was the Charles Luck brand, which has the mission of being a luxurious, style-minded company.

They visited high-style shops in New York, like Ralph Lauren, Saks, and Prada, and took their brand identity and mission from this type of retail experience.  Instead of just re-interpreting the concept, the Charles Luck brand takes it one step further – they are actually involved in the fashion industry.  They attend the premier textile show in the world — colors and patterns that appear in clothing trickle down to interior design and ultimately stone choices after 12-18 months.

They designed new showrooms that are easy to update with the latest trends, and educated their employees on the value of their interaction with customers.  Every interaction – from the buildings they work in, to how they answer the phone is intentionally part of the brand experience.  It’s “All on purpose for a purpose”.

Building this brand wasn’t a trivial exercise, though.  In addition to spending a significant amount on the design of new stores and marketing materials, Mark has spent over 60% of his time being the brand ambassador both within and outside of the company.

They’re seeing the benefit, though.  They’re reaching their target market of wealthy customers both through targeted marketing, and by creating a fashion-forward approach to their showrooms and design that is being picked up by interior design and style blogs.  One highlight so far has been (free!) weeklong exposure of their products and company on Reuter’s giant board in Times Square.

Notes about one more speaker… are in the next blog post.