The strategy behind Cheesecake Factory’s Fox acquisition

The Cheesecake Factory has completed its purchase of Fox Restaurant Concepts. The deal calls for the companies to remain separate entities, with Fox innovating new concepts and Cheesecake Factory taking over and scaling the ventures with the best potential for growth. Read the Restaurant Business online story here

Posted in News |
Dick’s to sell 8 Field & Stream locations

Dick’s Sporting Goods will sell eight of its 35 Field & Stream stores to Sportsman’s Warehouse Holdings, in a deal valued at $28 million, the companies said. The sale is part of a larger review of the retailer’s hunting business, which has slowed as Dick’s has changed some policies on firearms sales. Read the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story here

Posted in News |
Anthropologie ramps up European growth with 2 Paris stores

Anthropologie has expanded into France with the opening of two stores in Paris, as part of the retailer’s effort to speed its growth in Europe, according to Women’s Wear Daily. The company opened its first European store in London about 10 years ago and today has 13 locations there, along with one each in Barcelona and Dusseldorf, Germany; and plans for stores in Amsterdam and Hamburg, Germany.

Posted in News |
What retailers can learn from Forever 21’s story

Forever 21′s bankruptcy filing highlights some issues specific to the retailer, analysts say, including its larger-sized stores. The fast-fashion retailer’s model has focused more on price than style trends, and growing resale and rental options are competing for deal seekers. Read the Glossy story here

Posted in News |
Survey shows 60% of restaurant dining is off-premises

Off-premises orders including drive-thru, takeout and delivery now account for about 60% of restaurant dining occasions, according to new research from the National Restaurant Association and Technomic. Read the Nation’s Restaurant News story here

Posted in News |
Metl-Span ThermalSafe with a striated exterior profile

Metl-Span’s proven ThermalSafe® insulated metal panel is now available with a Striated exterior profile, in addition to the already existing Ultra-Light Mesa and Santa Fe exterior options. “The demand for more fire-resistant options led us to produce ThermalSafe with a striated exterior profile,” says Jennifer Franz, Metl-Span product manager. “Striations offer an aesthetic customers are familiar with and asking for.”

Fire-resistant ThermalSafe is equipped with a LockGuard interlocking side joint, achieving one-, two- or three-hour fire resistance rating for walls and 1-1/2 hours for ceilings. The insulated metal panel features a core made from non-combustible structural and non-toxic mineral wool boards processed to maximize compressive strength. The core insulating properties are 3.61 “R” per inch. ThermalSafe panels are 42 inches wide and available in thicknesses of 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 or 8 inches. Panels have been extensively tested to meet the fire standard requirements of FM4880 and the structural requirements of FM4881.

Visit or contact your local representative to learn how ThermalSafe can work for your next project.

Metl-Span is part of the Cornerstone Building Brands family (NYSE: CNR); delivering high-quality, durable and energy-efficient insulated metal panels designed for unparalleled performance to stand the test of time. For more information on Metl-Span products, call 877-585-9969 or visit


Posted in New Products |
Strengthening Contractor & Owner Relationships

A new study from Dodge Data & Analytics, conducted in partnership with Sevan Multi-Site Solutions, explores critical success factors for multi-site projects, from the perspectives of both owners and contractors. Multi-site work is an often-overlooked area of the construction industry that represents a significant volume of work, whether through a series of small projects across hundreds of locations, as seen with new signage installed in big box retail stores across the U.S., or through construction programs of new buildings and major renovations. According to the report, titled Challenges and Opportunities in Multi-Site Construction SmartMarket Insight, the most important factor contributing to the success of these programs is the strong relationship developed between building owners and contractors, and the findings take a close look at the opportunities for improving upon that relationship.

“We see clear evidence that established relationships between contractors and owners built on trust and performance produce better results in overall cost and schedule than simply a ‘race to the bottom’ on price alone. When the right contactors are selected for the right reasons, the outcomes are typically better for all stakeholders,” says Steve Kuhn, Executive Vice President of Sevan Multi-Site Solutions.

As part of the research, Dodge and Sevan examined nine major areas that impact the success of multi-site projects: how owners source firms for their programs, managing changes to the scope of work, the impact of technology, dealing with permitting issues, how to convey lessons learned through a large program of work, how to address skilled labor shortages, enhancing safety onsite, managing material and equipment procurement, and how payment terms influence an owner’s ability to attract companies.

For many of these nine areas, critical gaps between the perspectives of contractors and owners emerge. A few top examples include:

  • More than half (56%) of owners are confident that they know what makes their projects attractive to contractors to bid, but only 16% of contractors agree.
  • Nearly all owners (92%) believe that they frequently form and sustain long-term partnerships with contractors, but only 35% of contractors find that to be true.
  • Over half of owners (52%) believe that they are frequently keeping abreast of the changing permit requirements, but few contractors agree (21%).
  • Most owners (76%) report that they frequently communicate their future construction plans to contractors, but only 19% of contractors find that this occurs on a frequent basis. The most common reason that owners offer for not sharing information is uncertainty about program changes, but most contractors think owners are more concerned about confidentiality.

Despite their differing perspectives, though, both owners and contractors value the importance of stronger communication early in the project. Over 70% of owners and contractors agree that making time for program-level scope/schedule coordination early in a multi-site program improves scope clarity, quality, schedule and budget.

“Dodge has done several studies on traditional construction projects that demonstrate that early coordination and collaboration across the project team, including the owner, improves project outcomes,” says Steve Jones, Senior Director of Industry Insights Research at Dodge Data & Analytics, “but the benefits of that approach are magnified by the unique challenges of doing a large program of work.”

The study provides a basis not for correcting either side, but for supporting efforts for clearer communication based on understanding the differing perspectives voiced by each.

“The importance of clear and open communication early in a program cannot be over emphasized,” Kuhn continued. “Taking the time to truly understand the goals of the other side is essential to creating better outcomes and minimizing unmet expectations. It is only through frank and open dialog that both owners and contractors can truly appreciate the goals and challenges faced by each other.”

A complimentary version of the Challenges and Opportunities in Multi-Site Construction SmartMarket Insight is available at:

Two upcoming Dodge-hosted webinars will feature the perspectives of contractors on November 7 at 2 p.m. EST and owners on December 3 at 2 p.m. EST.


About Sevan Multi-Site Solutions: Sevan’s vision is to be the best in the world at delivering innovative design, program management, construction services and data analytics services to organizations with multiple sites. We have a passion for sustaining people, the environment, and our clients’ businesses. We help iconic global brands roll out multi-site initiatives efficiently, predictably, and transparently. Applying breakthrough technology solutions, we optimize new builds, rebuilds, remodels, renovations, modular construction, and merchandising initiatives. Our expertise spans numerous market sectors, including retail, restaurant, grocery, retail fuel and convenience stores, financial, and government, as well as the healthcare, housing, and hospitality industries. Sevan’s clients include McDonald’s, Walmart, Walgreens, Starbucks, BP, Kroger, HCA, 7-Eleven, Chipotle, Sunoco, Jiffy Lube, DaVita, Albertsons and many more.

For more information, visit

Media Contact: Hafsa Mahmood | Sevan Multi-Site Solutions Marketing & Communications | +312-285-0590,

About Dodge Data & Analytics: Dodge Data & Analytics is North America’s leading provider of analytics and software-based workflow integration solutions for the construction industry. Building product manufacturers, architects, engineers, contractors, and service providers leverage Dodge to identify and pursue unseen growth opportunities and execute on those opportunities for enhanced business performance. Whether it’s on a local, regional or national level, Dodge makes the hidden obvious, empowering its clients to better understand their markets, uncover key relationships, size growth opportunities, and pursue those opportunities with success. The company’s construction project information is the most comprehensive and verified in the industry. Dodge is leveraging its 100-year-old legacy of continuous innovation to help the industry meet the building challenges of the future.  To learn more, visit

Media Contact Nicole Sullivan | AFFECT Public Relations & Social Media | +1-212-398-9680,

Posted in Vendor News |
Utilizing Daylight for Workplace Health/Well-Being

With Americans, on average, spending more than 90% of their time indoors, cultivating a healthy indoor environment can begin with sound daylighting strategies. The effective use of daylight in today’s buildings not only plays a significant role in achieving energy efficiency, but also successfully nurtures the occupants within.  Each day, new research, case studies, design guides, and design standards magnify the importance of daylight as a source of interior lighting that drives human health, productivity, and happiness.

As living beings, we feel the benefits of being exposed to daylight, and when we don’t have it, we crave daylight and views.  As designers, we have always known that effectively integrating daylight and views into buildings make them better, more energy efficient and better environments for the occupants within.  The problem, in years past, was providing the concrete evidence that access to daylight and views provided direct financial benefit to corporations and building owners.  As a result, the benefits of daylight on occupant wellbeing, satisfaction, and productivity were largely anecdotal.

Today, we are at an exciting and pivotal point in time relative to how we understand, justify, and place a value upon providing daylight and views in the building design process.  Today’s revelation in the justification for providing and codifying the need for daylight and views is following the same process that was used to justify and mandate the use of natural air requirements in modern building ventilation design strategies and code requirements that are ubiquitous in the HVAC community today.  For centuries, anecdotal information allowed architects to justify the desire for providing natural, outdoor ventilation to indoor spaces.  Architects long understood that poor indoor air quality (IAQ) results in “sick” buildings, and is acknowledged in hindering occupant comfort, productivity, health, and discourages tenants from renewing their leases.

Today, we would never think of depriving building occupants from ventilation systems that provide a certain percentage of fresh, outside air.  In the realm of HVAC systems design, there are legal ramifications for buildings that have unhealthy indoor environment.  Anecdotal support for using fresh, outside air in building ventilation transitioned to concrete, well-documented facts when physicians, engineers, and architects pooled their knowledge and applied evidence-based design to the area of building ventilation research and application.  Evidence-based design research studies clearly proved that the use of minimum fresh air ventilation requirements made the building occupants happier, and healthier.  Since 1973, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Standards 62.1 and 62.2 for Ventilation and Indoor Air Quality are the recognized standards for ventilation system design and acceptable IAQ in modern, conditioned buildings.

Since the pivotal discovery of the intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (iPRGC), and research that documents the iPRGC’s role in the human circadian cycle and health, the road was paved that has allowed physicians, researchers, scientists, engineers and designers to work together to develop and apply evidence-based design with the artful and beneficial application of daylight and views to modern buildings.  Today, the ever-growing body of research and design case studies continue to evolve the justification of daylight and views for the psychological, and physiological benefit of building occupants.

As such, evidence-based design has been used to support the development of new rigorous building and space assessment and rating metrics relative to daylight sufficiency, such as the spatial Daylight Autonomy (sDA) and Annual Sunlight Exposure (ASE) metrics developed by the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES), and human circadian stimulation, using melanopic illumination criteria which are a different point of reference than the age-old photopic illuminance criteria used for traditional lighting design, to modern building design guidelines and standards such as the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) LEED Rating Tools and the International WELL Building Institute’s (IWBI) WELL Building Standard (WELL).

Research and evidence-based design activities show, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that providing building occupants with the artful application of daylight and views results in improved health and happiness.  Quality exposure to daylight (as a source of interior illumination) and views results in improved occupant mood, decreased stress, lower rates of depression, increased alertness/wakefulness, and improved health.  The end result is that psychological and physiological health go hand in hand, and access to daylight and views are key elements of a building’s design that improve the indoor environmental quality of a building for human wellness.

Today, evidence-based design has given way to a new building-related design, justification, and investment in wellness in real estate.  The goal of wellness real estate is to make the occupants’ wellness the basis for the conception, design, and development of new buildings and communities.  The wellness real estate market has become a multi-billion-dollar industry.

Daylight and Productivity

When employees are fulfilled in their workplace environment, they are more engaged, produce higher quality individual work, and are much happier in general, which creates a more enjoyable work space.

A research poll of 1,614 North American employees found that over a third of employees feel that they don’t get enough natural light in their workspace. About 47% of employees admit they feel tired or very tired from the absence of natural light or a window at their office, and 43% report feeling gloomy because of the lack of light.  Additionally, “The Future Workplace Employee Experience Study found 78% of employees say access to natural light and views improves their wellbeing and 70% report improved work performance.”

Daylight and Wellness

Natural light is truly the best medicine for the office

A recent study by Dr. Alan Hedge, a workplace design expert and professor in the Department of Design and Environmental Analysis at Cornell University, found that workers in daylight office environments reported a 51% drop in the incidence of eyestrain, a 63% drop in the incidence of headaches and a 56% reduction in drowsiness.  Hedge concluded that “As companies increasingly look to empower their employees to work better and be healthier, it is clear that placing them in office spaces with optimal natural light should be one of their first considerations.”

Workers with more light exposure in the office had longer sleep duration, better sleep quality, more physical activity and better quality of life compared to office workers with less light exposure in the workplace, reports a study from Northwestern Medicine and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Neall Digert, Ph.D., MIES, Vice President of Solatube International, Inc., has over thirty years of consulting and education experience working in the energy/lighting/daylighting design and research fields, specializing in the design and application of advanced lighting and daylighting systems for commercial building applications.  He possesses a unique technical background in optical daylighting systems, architectural daylighting solutions, and advanced energy and lighting strategies.  As Solatube’s Vice President, Dr. Digert draws upon his expertise in the design and consulting arenas to build public awareness of new optical daylighting technologies, guide future product developments and refinements, develop new global sales and marketing strategies, and pioneer new design and application tools and protocols to support the successful integration of optical daylighting products into today’s commercial, educational, and industrial buildings.  Dr. Digert’s technical background encompasses illumination engineering, building energy engineering, and the psychology of perception relative to luminous environments.  Dr. Digert holds a Bachelor of Science degree in architectural engineering, a Master of Science degree in building energy/civil engineering, and a Doctorate in building energy/civil engineering, all earned at the University of Colorado.



Posted in Vendor News |

Kovac Design Studio, a boutique architecture and design practice focused on the realization of meticulously crafted, environmentally-sensitive projects, is pleased to announce the appointment of Thomas Schneider to the position of Managing Partner. The promotion recognizes Thomas’ strong leadership in the Studio and excellent rapport with clients.

“Thomas is a natural leader who inspires and encourages innovative thinking with our clients and within our firm,” says Michael Kovac, founder and copartner. “Elevating Thomas to partner was a natural next step for the evolution of the firm. He has demonstrated a profound commitment to our clients and their goals along with a passion for achieving the highest levels of architectural quality. With his Brazilian-German heritage, Thomas brings a uniquely international perspective that informs his vision of how to shape our firm in the coming decades to keep it at the forefront of architectural practice.”

Thomas joined the Kovac Design Studio team in 2013, bringing over 20 years of experience in architecture design and project management. Leveraging a strong portfolio and extensive expertise in custom residential and commercial adaptive reuse projects, Thomas will continue to push the firm throughout all phases of project development, from conceptual design to completion. As Managing Partner, Thomas keeps a keen eye on projects as their design evolves, while also focusing on operational efficiencies, honing the firm’s quality control methods, and strategic planning including expanding the type of projects the firm pursues.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed developing projects with our team and have a deep appreciation for the principles and processes that help define Kovac Design Studio,” says Thomas. “I am thrilled to be in a position where I can effectively be a critical voice in shaping the firm’s path, and I look forward to fostering the growth and success of this wonderfully collaborative company as a whole.”

“Meeting and then working with Michael and the remarkable KDS team over the last several years was a stroke of luck for me. Michael and I share the core belief that highest levels of architectural design can only be achieved when they are aligned with our clients’ goals. The daily challenge of searching for creative solutions that marry their objectives with the highest levels of design, using sustainability, timelessness, and innovation as a core principles gives meaning and focus to the work we do as a team.”

Thomas joining founder, Michael Kovac, as a partner, marks a major milestone for Kovac Design Studio as it looks to a future of continued evolution and growth.

For more information about Kovac Design Studio, please visit

About Kovac Design Studio: Kovac Design Studio is a multidisciplinary architecture and design practice focused on the realization of meticulously crafted, highly personalized private residences, and mixed use spaces. For more than three decades, Kovac Design Studio has honed its expertise working with a wide range of constraints and creative challenges. Their values, forged by years of frequently invigorating, and occasionally humbling experiences, are simple. They are committed to the environmental integrity of their work. Kovac Design Studio strives to provide the highest level of service to their clients, and to imbue their projects with meaning and enduring quality.

Posted in Vendor News |
10 Tips Small-Scale Construction Projects Profitability

Large contractors have obvious advantages. However, that doesn’t mean that smaller construction companies, or even single-person enterprises, can’t make money over the long haul. With a thoughtful approach and the willingness to take on multiple roles, you can make small-scale projects profitable.

The industry giants can make their bread and butter through elaborate, big-money projects. You don’t have that option. You need to earn cash through small-scale construction gigs.

That doesn’t mean you have to suffer. You can thrive on these tinier assignments. You just need to leverage your natural advantages as a smaller provider. Meanwhile, you have to keep your eye on the bottom line and get the most out of every aspect of the business.

Here are 10 specific tips to make small-scale construction projects more profitable:

Hire the Right People

A slow or lazy or unreliable employee can cost you a lot. And when you have a small organization, one unproductive worker can cause outsized damage to your financial health. After all, going overtime on a job, or having to redo a sloppy finished product can turn what should’ve been a profitable project into a money loser.

For that reason, you careful who you hire. Take time to find the right people. Don’t be afraid to fire someone if the relationship isn’t working out. Over time, you should be able to form a tight, reliable team.

Incentivize Your Workers

Once you find good workers, do what you can to keep them. By paying a little more than market rate for your top employees, you can keep them around longer. Properly paid, their above-average productivity will more than make up for the higher salary.

Meanwhile, offer rewards for hitting certain targets. The more productive your workers are, the more profit you earn. However, it’s hard to reach peak productivity just with threats and begging. A better way to get the most out of your workers is to give them a positive reason to outperform.

Plan More, Work Less

You get a job. You show up, and figure out what you were going to do on the fly. This strategy creates a significant chance that you will end up wasting some of your time.

Instead, plan out each of your assignments in detail. Know what you were going to do before you get there. That way, you can finish the job as efficiently as possible.

Choose Projects Carefully

Sometimes, any work is better than no work. However, you have to remember the concept of opportunity costs. Taking one job means you can’t take another. Keep this in mind as you select the customers you sign up.

Also, watch out for potential hidden expenses. Four instance, a particular job might seem profitable on the surface. However, the location sits pretty far outside your normal area. You would have to drive a significant distance each day to get to the site. You need to take this travel time into account when determining whether or not the money is worth the effort.

Leverage Your Special Skills

Large contractors can deliver hundreds of workers and finish large construction projects in a relatively short period of time. You can’t rally that kind of man power. However, you have your own advantages. Don’t lose out by trying to beat the big guys on their home turf. Find your own competitive advantages and exploit them.

One example comes from a specialty skill. Having hard-to-find abilities allows you to charge more. It’s simple supply and demand. If you can do a job that other people can’t, you can earn premium dollars for your time. Look for ways to specialize, and set your prices accordingly.

Quantity vs. Quality

Places like Walmart can sell cheap, because they can make up for the lower cost with more volume. It’s a strategy that works when you’re a large-scale operation. It gets more difficult when you’re working on a small scale.

As a smaller enterprise, you should aim more for quality than for quantity. Develop a reputation for delivering high-quality work and it will help you earn more for the work you do.

Use Technology to Boost Productivity

Efficiency is the key to profitable enterprise. Whatever you can do to increase efficiency ultimately falls to the bottom line.

Technology provides a great way to get there. The right software can help you get more out of your resources. These products allow you to improve your workflow and get more out of your time and money.

Many of these programs are specifically suited for small construction firms, or single-person proprietorships. They remove many of the expensive back office functions, helping you reduce overhead.

Look for Upsells

Every time you go to a fast food place, they try to upsell you at the counter. Would you like fries with that? How about a large Coke?

That may seem far away from the construction business, but it’s really not. You can use the same strategy to boost your revenue and, ultimately, your bottom line.

Once you find a customer looking for you to complete the project, look around for other services you can offer. They may need other services you can provide. Or, you can find ways to upgrade the project they initially contracted you to do. Look out for opportunities to use different materials or more elaborate designs – in other words, chances to increase value for them, and profitability for you.

Know Your Price

Sometimes, it’s tempting to present a lower bid to ensure you secure a job. Then, you just have to hope you make up for the lower revenue later by cutting corners.

However, this strategy usually causes trouble. You end up selling yourself short and you put yourself in a position where you have to compromise quality and workmanship to keep the job profitable at all.

Don’t put yourself in this position. Know your bottom price for any particular job. Hold firm to this level as best you can, making sure you can do the kind of work that will make you proud and satisfy the customer.

Focus on Customer Service

Getting repeat business isn’t just a matter of providing the best final product. You also want to create good experience for your clients. Small upgrades and stellar customer service make a big difference.

This is especially true in the construction business. After all, let’s be honest: many providers in the industry have a reputation for poor customer skills. You can differentiate yourself by bucking this stereotype.

Take steps to deliver a high level of customer service. Sign up for an answering service, to make sure people can always contact you by phone. Respond to messages as quickly as possible. Train your staff how to interact with customers in professional and courteous manner.

Ultimately, becoming a profitable provider of small-scale production services comes down to these small details. By improving customer service, and taking the other relatively minor tips into account, you can set yourself up for growth over time.

Marie Erhart is a Success Manager at FieldPulse, creators of field service software that lets you run your entire contracting business from a single app. She works with contractors to help them grow their business using best practices.



Posted in Vendor News |