Marketing Sustainable Remodeling practices with Andy Pace

Andy Pace and Mike Goldstein discuss green kitchens and why there is a move to care about healthy building materials where we cook and eat and spend a lot of time.

Cabinets, flooring, appliances, countertops, and how kitchen and home sustainable remodeling contractors can capitalize on this emerging market to increase their profit margins are all important aspects of green kitchens. Indoor air quality is two to five times worse than outdoor air quality, so green kitchens are a necessity in terms of our health. Some green kitchen features include no VOC paint, sustainable bamboo or cork floors, Energy Star appliances, formaldehyde-free cabinets, recycled glass countertops, and low-e windows. Green kitchens cost 10-20% more than traditional kitchens, but the health benefits and increased resale value make them well worth the investment. Homeowners are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of green kitchens, so now is the time for contractors to jump on this trend.


Topics discussed on the podcast about the top strategies promoting sustainable remodeling as a business model

As green kitchens become more popular, kitchen and home remodeling contractors have an opportunity to capitalize on this emerging market. green kitchens are healthier and more non-toxic than traditional kitchens, and they provide many benefits for both homeowners and remodelers.

Remodelers who are able to offer green kitchen options will be able to increase their profit margins while also providing a healthier and more sustainable product for their customers. Green kitchens typically use environmentally friendly materials for cabinets, flooring, appliances, countertops, and other surfaces. These materials are often more expensive than traditional materials, but they offer numerous benefits including improved indoor air quality, better temperature regulation, and increased durability. In addition, green kitchens often incorporate energy-efficient appliances and fixtures, which can help homeowners save money on their utility bills.

By offering green kitchen options, remodeling contractors can tap into a growing market while also providing a product that is healthier for both homeowners and the environment. green kitchens are becoming increasingly popular as homeowners seek out ways to improve their health and create a more sustainable home. remodeling contractors who are able to provide green kitchen options will be well-positioned to succeed in this growing market.

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Audio Transcript

Hey there, it’s Mike Goldson again here with a crushing with kitchen and modeling podcast and today we want to talk a little bit about healthy kitchens and green initiatives and some of the areas where you guys as home remodeling contractors are no doubt getting a lot of requests from people, especially after covid after all the issues with cleanliness and with keeping things environmentally friendly. I’m sure that you know, you’re getting a lot of people who want to know what can they do to make their kitchens and their homes more green. So here’s the deal today. We have with us, one of the foremost experts in the entire green space Andy Pace from Green Design Center and Andy and I are gonna talk all about that in just a few moments. But first, before we get started as always, don’t forget, crush it with Kitchen remodel, are you looking for some fresh ideas to jump start your kitchen remodeling business? Welcome to the crushing it with Kitchen remodeling podcast. Your host Michael Goldstein, founder of Kitchen Remodeling S. C. O. The digital marketing agency, working exclusively with kitchen remodeling contractors and also the author of the ultimate internet marketing guy for kitchen remodeling contractors will provide insight on proven tips and strategies from top experts in this space so that you can take advantage of industry best practices. Your host Michael Goldstein join, Mike as he shares his knowledge each week with an insightful interview or educational segment about how to turn your online marketing efforts into more kitchen remodeling leads and sales opportunities than ever before. And we’re back and we’re gonna bring in with us today Andrew pace Andrew. How are you? I am fantastic today, Michael, how are you? I’m doing great. Well, we’re so excited to have you on the podcast this, you know, we’re gonna be talking about something that’s really trending right now. It’s been something I think for, you know, for quite a few years, it’s been a big piece, a big push for green initiatives. But everything really since covid and since people have really started to understand how important it is to make sure that their homes are healthy. You know, it’s really something that a lot of our listeners are running into and they just don’t know how to capitalize on it before we get into all that. And tell me a little bit about yourself, you know, where are you from? What do you do? Sure. So I live in beautiful balmy Wisconsin, southeastern Wisconsin near Milwaukee a little cooler by the lake this time of year. I’ve been here in my life. I’m 50 almost 52 years old, uh, about 30 years ago. Give or take. I started a company selling what I called common sense toxin, free building materials and that’s all because of a situation we had on a commercial project here in Milwaukee. We were supplying a water based epoxy coating for a below grade parking structure and after the primer coat got applied, three of our workers got rushed to the hospital because of inhalation complications. They literally couldn’t breathe because of the curing process of this epoxy and it just got me thinking that you know, um we are risking our company, we’re risking harming our our clients are our workers, there’s gotta be a better way to do this. And at that point I delved into the world of sick building syndrome, environmental illness, chemical sensitivity and I found that there was a just an enormous segment of the population who suffered from these chemical sensitivities, you know, either really bad or not mild. There’s gotta be a market with this community uh to be able to sell healthier building materials. Now this is before the U. S. Green Building Council started their lead program. This is before green became anything more than just a color, you know, and now it’s a way of life. Um So again back in the time I was just marketing healthy common sense building materials. I I called my company’s safe building solutions And throughout the the big push of green building, I changed the company in the green design center. Uh but what happened was in the industry, all manufacturers started promoting eco friendly materials, eco friendly solutions solutions that are better for outdoor environment, you know, more energy efficient um maybe low to zero V. O. C. Which has nothing to do with human health has to do with outdoor air pollution. But that entire time we really focused on the human elements of the project. And so while all manufacturers were going to green from a sustainable standpoint, some global environmental concept, we’re focusing on human health concerns and that’s really our has been our mission and still is today, you know, that’s that’s really interesting because I know we’ve worked with a lot of, a lot of our clients are in the green industry when I got started, I actually worked with a bunch of home cleaning companies, actually, companies that were all about being green. And you know, it’s it’s funny because you get these companies are coming in charge and hundreds and hundreds of dollars a week and they bring in all these chemical into the house, you know, and then I had a client who comes in with a bag of lemons, a gallon of vinegar and he says, okay, let’s do this, let’s do it right. And and people were, you know, they were eating it up and you know, and lo and behold we learn, you know, years later, this actually is the healthy way to go and, you know, and I know there’s a big difference between living green and living healthy. I mean, kind of explain that, you know, the difference in those two respects, so the best way to explain it would probably give you an idea of what our customer base is like and so on any given day, in one of our showrooms will get three types of customers walking in. The first customer walks in. This is, this is, you know what we focus on. First customer says, we’re building a home, we’ve got a seven year old with autism. Um, he can’t be around any, um, chemicals that are off gassing and otherwise it exacerbates his, his symptoms. So we want to build a home that’s completely free of chemical out casting or as low as possible. Second customer walks in and says, I’ve been a burden to the earth for 55 years. I want to remodel home using all recycled, repurposed renewed materials. Third customer walks in and says, I want to build a home with the lowest carbon footprint now, out of those three, none of them are wrong and none of them are actually the right answer. Um, so, you know, it’s um, it’s, it’s one of those things where we had to cater to all crowds of environmental and health concerns. We didn’t want to lump everybody into one column the way the industry does. The industry says, eco friendly, meaning anything that’s better for the outdoor environment, including energy efficiency and so forth. But we have clients that don’t really don’t care about that as their, as their first push, they care about the health of the human occupant. And, you know, one of the things I know with healthy living is sometimes manufacturers get ahold of people really want to be healthier, let’s just Jack up those prices a little bit, let’s increase, let’s increase our profit margin. Have you found when you’re, when you’re looking at home, remodeling that it becomes less profitable or that the cost to remodel healthy kitchen or even just a whole home is more so than kind of just doing it the standard way that we’ve been doing it for decades. And that’s a that’s a very interesting question because it’s, it’s it requires a little bit of conversation. And so if you compare apples to apples, quality level, the quality level, building healthy is not going to cost you more than building with traditional methods and materials. But this is where the that caveat is comparing quality level, the quality level. If you have a customer that’s pricing everything out, going to big box stores and getting sales on everything doesn’t matter where it’s made, it doesn’t matter how it’s made, but just gets the job done. Yes. I think building health is going to cost you more because when you build healthy, you’re also building of a higher quality. And I think also when you’re looking at people traditionally who are into the green initiative and a healthy initiative, I kind of look at like the same way when people go to the grocery store, you know, pick whatever your local big box grocery store is. You know, and you’ve got, you know, hundreds of thousands of people are going there and then you got whole foods and trader joe’s and you’ve got tens of thousands people going there. And the people who are going to the whole foods and the trader joe’s, I think they don’t mind spending a little extra money because not because they think they’re getting something, you know healthier, but I think they believe they’re getting some of the higher quality And it don’t become, you know, an issue, at least from what I’ve heard from from our client base is, you know, we we wanna care to the luxury remodel market, the luxury model market is not the market that cares about saving, you know, five cents, it gets $1,500 cash back on this or that, but rather they want to have, you know, that the kitchen that they want to have the master bedroom. That is the envy of people and that helps them live a more comfortable lifestyle and quite frankly, staying healthy is more comfortable. Um, you know, and the other aspect of that I think is that people who typically are looking for that green initiative are probably are, they’re not looking to, you know, to get the cheapest possible quality because of that. The fact is that that’s the kind of stuff that you need chemicals that you need, um, all kinds of additives and things to, to preserve and, and to, you know, to make your flimsy, you know, cardboard act like would, you know, back before the last recession of 2008 to 2012 people were buying green uh for the sake of buying green, as you say, people wanted to be able to say to their family and friends and the neighbors. Yeah, I used this recycled glass and concrete countertop because it uses all recycled content um after the recession and when when money came back into remodeling, the same customer still existed, but it’s almost as if they started to educate themselves a bit more to say, all right, well if I’m going to spend more on something that is eco friendly proved to me that there’s actually a health benefit to it as well. And now multiply that because of the pandemic, It’s I think the pandemic for everything that was horrible about it. The one wonderful thing about it was it got people thinking about their their their building biology and what it’s like to live and work and breathe in this space 24/7 and how it affects all aspects of life. And so we’ve seen more and more people coming to us saying, I don’t have any chemical sensitivities, I don’t have any health issues, but I don’t want to have those either. So, can you help me design a home that is healthy? Yeah, for sure. And I mean, I think just taking that that analogy to the next level is we look at outdoor dining and how that has grown exponentially just because people want to, they want to be in an environment where they feel safer and more secure, um and there’s no place that’s more important to feel secure than in your own home. So I think that was a real drive for that, but I also think coming, coming back to who the audience of this show is, which is not the homeowner so much, but you know, the folks who are building those homes and you are modeling and renovating those homes, um you know, one of the things I think that they would probably want to know is, well, what, you know, what is the right chemical free materials, if I’m gonna, if I’m gonna resurface a whole host of cabinets, what is that chemical free paint that I should be getting is, you know, are there, but are there buzz words that are on the product that I should be looking for? And then I can use that in my markets were using X free wifi free type of materials. So That’s a difficult question to answer in a short amount of time. But what I will say is the first thing you need to do as a custom remodeler is to listen to your client. Uh, the ones that say, listen, I I’ve got either health issues or sensitivities or I just want to live in a healthier space? The worst thing that you can tell them is I’ve been doing this for 20 years, I know what I’m doing those as soon as you say that you’re turning off a huge segment of your customer base because people don’t want to hear that because to them, that means um you’re not gonna take any of my my suggestions. You’re not gonna listen to what I have to say. So listen to what they’re saying and then say, all right, let’s try to work within this. Are they’re healthier finishes you can use for your cabinetry. Of course there always will be. And let’s and let’s take cabinetry uh as a major component. You know, I look at in a home whether it’s a new home or remodeling project, 90% of the toxicity issues you’re going to face from the building materials themselves will come from the things you see and touch on a daily basis. Flooring is number one. Your wall finishes will be number two cabinetry and woodwork is number three. It doesn’t constitute a large amount of the home, but it’s also very concentrated every day. You’re opening up those those doors and drawers. And if if that plywood is made with any type of um Yuria formaldehyde. If the glues used container year from rhea formaldehyde, which they all do uh and the finish is well off guest formaldehyde as a byproduct, customers are gonna get inundated with that on a daily basis and this is actually caused in many cases, people to be driven out of their homes. So um looking for finishes that do have um either a track record, working with people with allergies, asthma chemical sensitivities, looking for, you know, you mentioned like buzzwords, you can look for the downside to looking for those buzzwords is it’s usually the manufacturers that are touting those things in order to get you to buy them. Um so I look more so from recommendations from other professional companies who have, who have had customers in the past that suffered from sensitivities and they said, yeah, we were able to use the, you know, the A. F. M. Safe code Echo lack product as our pigmented lacquer and it worked wonderfully and we actually have builders now across the country who are specialized in custom healthy homes and that’s all they use, you know, the funny thing is as you were just saying that, I’m thinking, I mean the alphabet soup type of stuff that we start hearing, you know, all these complex terminologies and I think that a lot, you know, a lot of homeowners, their eyes start to glaze over, that’s that’s great. I want, you know, I want my home done healthy, I want it to be, I want building with sustainable materials, you know, we’re all about environmentally friendly in this house. So as you know, as somebody who is doing some of these projects and you’re selling these projects for, you know, for your people to do as well, what are some of the ways really that you have been able to convey the message and and to get people to be interested in green initiatives, who maybe they were kind of on the fringe and they’re saying, well, you know, it would be nice, but do I really need it? Um well I think that the biggest issue that we face in that regard is the fact that we’ve got um a lot of situations where we’ll have couples coming in and one of them is, is dead set on making sure that it’s the healthiest kitchen possible. The other one could care less. The other one wants to make sure the budget is maintained right. Um, and so listen, I, you know, part of this is being a a marriage counselor sometimes and you know this, I mean working with homeowners, uh you have to juggle those personalities, but honestly it comes down to finding that common ground, which is neither one of them wants to have the other um, have reactions being healthy when you start to talk about it in layman’s terms That, you know, we spend 90% of our lives indoors and that was before the pandemic typically paints and coatings that are used either on walls or on cabinetry will off gas anywhere from 2. 5 to 4. 5 years after it reaches a full cure. So that means for the first four years, probably you’re going to get hit with this chemical emission coming from the cabinetry. So what’s more important, um, utilizing what the team says has worked and we just always want to use it or maybe getting them to look at something that uh, doesn’t really cost anymore, but it just, it’ll cost them some time in learning because once that is uh, perfected customers are gonna be far happier and they’re not going to have to worry about any of the chemical emissions coming from the finish or from what’s underneath. Um, and here’s the other thing too. It’s peace of mind is incredibly valuable. And so when you talk about, you know, customers who are trying to do, just do the right thing and be as green and healthy as possible a lot of times, all they’re trying to do is just check that off the list inside of their heads to say, I don’t have to worry about that because if you don’t check it off the list and you get too far along the project, If you continue to worry about these things that you haven’t really looked at and haven’t addressed, it’s always gonna eat at you. And so I’m working with a client right now where they sent me a checklist of all the materials they want to do in their home, all the materials they want to use. And honestly, I’m okay and probably 95% of the things that they are recommending they want are saying they want to use and to them, that’s peace of mind, that is worth my involvement in the project. So, you know, when, when you’re talking about people who are making all these suggestions too, I think that kind of opens up a whole other avenue, which is, there’s so much information and misinformation on the internet about building and certainly about green building. What are some of the biggest myths that you hear from homeowners that you just got to shake your head and say no, no? Alright, biggest myth without a doubt is when a client calls and says, I’ve been doing research, That means I’ve been on Google and that means that I’ve I’ve seen 20 or 30 posts that are probably either written by a manufacturer or sponsored by a manufacturer uh to uh to verify what they already thought they knew and that’s what they’re doing there. They already go into it saying I really want to use this product. They go online, they look for information about that product. They find that the manufacturers are basically um allowing them or giving them somewhat permission to say it’s okay. Then they come to me and say, well, everything I’ve read all my research says this is okay. And so that is the biggest myth, because all they’re doing is just regurgitating manufacturers, um information, which is almost always slanted just to sell their product. You know, and I think going the other direction that too is everyone who’s on facebook, oh my gosh, social media and you know, listen, I’m in the business facebook advertising, I’m in the business of SEO and marketing companies, but I can tell you, you don’t listen to what they see because the people who post on facebook groups are people who either they’re trying they’re trying to convince you of something that is beyond untrue or that they have a real agenda, um or they’re trying to convince themselves that they did the right thing, and they were looking for affirmation. Yeah, absolutely, and I think that that’s, you know, that’s a real issue. And, you know, when the homeowner comes to you and says, listen, I know this is what we need to do, as you say, you know, I’m an interior designer, I’ve been in the industry, so I know this is what you need to do. Well that’s great, and if that’s what you want, that’s okay, but that might not actually achieve your own goal. So, you know, at what point I think, do you say to somebody, well, listen, we can do it, you know, this is my advice, but what do you want to do? It’s your home, you’re the one who has to live here, you’re the one who’s paying us, you tell me what you want. Well, when I get hired as a consultant on a project, it’s my goal to not reaffirm what they think they already know, But my goal is to actually challenge the clients to make sure they understand what they’re getting. I’ve been, I’ve been known for uh selling against something that I normally provide because it’s not the right material for the project and I’d rather um pass the sale to somebody else. I don’t want to take the order if it’s not the right material for the job, because I don’t want them to ever come back to me and say, why didn’t you tell me this? Why didn’t you say that this is gonna be a problem? And so um you know, for me it’s just it’s again peace of mind. But you know when you say that when you get these on these facebook groups, you have these people saying I’m an interior designer, I’ve been doing this for 20 years, I’m a painting contractor, I’ve been doing this for 30 years. My response normally is, well I’ve been golfing for 30 years and I’m still horrible just because you do something doesn’t mean you’re a professional at it, just because you have a business card that says you’re something, it doesn’t mean you know everything about everything. So I’m always learning myself every single client I have, I’m learning from, so I can help the next person better. Yeah, that’s that’s that’s for sure. So let me ask you, you’ve been you have been doing this for a while, You’ve been on a lot of projects, you have spared a lot of initiatives. Tell me about what was your favorite uh project that you’ve been on and why? Oh boy, favorite project I’ve worked with over 30,000 clients in my career, but one of them recently, uh it’s probably one of my favorite because of how much exposure it got and in a very interesting way. So yeah, well, yeah, exactly, yeah, and so um 80% of my customer base is female because actually it, but think about it, you know, from a standpoint of health and so forth and making decisions about materials and colors and so forth. On the other hand, studies show that more men actually suffer from chemical sensitivities than women do, but men just ignore it. And so this is why I love this project. Um about a year and a half ago I started working with a gentleman out in um California. His name is Mike Bender and Mike is, he’s been in the Hollywood um business for him. He’s been a a screenwriter, he’s he’s written books. Um he suffers from, he actually developed Lyme disease when he was a child when he was about seven years old. And since then it’s just been miserable for him. He reacts to so many things. Um he is exactly what we would call a universal reactor. Everything can bother him because of mast cell activation syndrome and all these other things that he has, so mike got me involved in a project about a year and a half ago to help remodel his house house in santa Barbara and this is the very first time then that a man, uh not only had me help remodel the home, but he actually wrote an article about, it appeared in men’s health magazine this past March and he wrote an article about how he’s been suffering with chemical sensitivity all these years and it opened up the ability for men all around the world to say, I kind of feel the same way, you know, it’s, I think as men, we feel this, this need to like not admit when things are hurting and I’m, I’m a victim of that too, or I, you know, I, I tore my shoulder up pretty bad playing in a pro racquetball tournament a couple years ago and I kept playing because that’s what guys do, right? Well, yeah, but Mike finally said enough, I can’t do it anymore and we remodeled his home and well, I helped and many other people who are hands on, he’s living in that home today and he’s just doing wonderfully. And that tells me that if you just, you know, get rid of the noise in your life, just take care of what the problem is. You can actually make yourself feel a hell of a lot better. That’s, that’s, that’s great to hear, you know, and, and you, you’ve been dropping some great knowledge bombs on us all day long here, but let me ask you this for people who are really interested in in the more green initiatives, people, especially those who are in the Wisconsin area. How do they get a hold of you? How do they find you? All right. The best way to get in touch with me is the Green design center dot com. So the Green design center dot com uh and then on there you can book an appointment. I had to go to appointment consultations several years ago just because of the the amount of people that call in um any given time, I’m probably doing 20 to 30 new home projects around the country and you know, countless remodeling projects and you know, come on in at their space, take it, I do all online scheduling, you can also find a lot of the products that we have curated over the years that we know work well with very sensitive people. Um you know, we we do utilize a lot of the Green Initiative, third party certifications that are out there to help us make our decisions, but quite honestly, what I rely on is my own personal testing. I test every product we sell for formaldehyde outgassing and I rely on my own clients to come come call back and say yes, this work for us and um it gives us a little bit more um I guess uh gives us that information, we need to allow other customers to try it out and uh once it’s been tried and true by a number of our customers will add it to the website as being one of our curated products podcast. I have a podcast. It’s called non toxic environments. Try to do it every week. But lately, because it’s our busy season, it’s been a little tough, you know how that goes. But uh yeah, now that fall’s coming around, we’ll be getting into it a lot more and, and a lot of good information on the site on the podcast. It’s essentially just me and and a co host, um, J watts from California. Uh, he and I are just rambling for 30 or 45 minutes about, you know, what’s, what’s on the minds of people who are looking to build a remodel healthy. That’s fantastic. I really appreciate the time. I appreciate everything that you have been telling us about. I think there’s a lot of um opportunity out there for remodelers who haven’t really gotten into the green space. There’s a lot of ability to get into higher level, as you said, higher quality types of projects. And I think that’s where obviously that’s where the profitability is going to be moving forward. Um, so that’s, so that’s great if you’re, you know, if anyone is looking for more information, check out, check out the link at the bottom of this podcast. It has a link right to, to Andy’s podcast has a link to his website. Um so again, this was, you know, it was just great having you on. Thank you, Michael. It’s my pleasure to be here. Alright, well, again guys, this is Mike Goldson with crushing with kitchen remodeling podcast. We’re here. We’re gonna be here again next week. Look forward to talking to you and seeing you then. Alright, bye bye.

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