Volume 46, Issue 5 - June 2007

From the Editor

The Next Big Boomer
Building Industry Should Take Note of Seniors

My dad is 60 and my mom is 59, so that makes them members of the Baby Boomer generation. Older homeowners prefer to age in place, which means they want to stay in their homes safely, independently and comfortably, regardless of age or ability level.

My parents have yet to decide when and where they want to retire. I’ve gathered from conversations with them that they might retire near my family in Arkansas or near my brother and his wife in Minneapolis, or possibly somewhere out West like Montana.

While researching this month’s aging-in-place feature, I naturally thought of them and how they would build or retrofit a home for themselves with aging in mind.

Being able to maneuver easily through entryways and hallways and in bedrooms, kitchens and bathrooms is essential to the aging-in-place concept. After talking with suppliers, contractors and remodelers, I believe building new homes as well as remodeling existing homes according to the aging-in-place concept is an area that is going to explode in the market in the next five years. 

But distributors and dealers should also take note. Mans Lumber and Millwork in Canton, Mich., is a dealer that is focusing on the aging-in-place market. Kristen Schrader is the company’s marketing manager and a certified aging-in-place specialist. She recommends to all businesses interested in dealing with the aging-in-place market to get people qualified as certified aging-in-place specialists.

“Lots of remodelers and designers get the certification, but it is important for material dealers to be just as informed, if not more so, about what is available. Almost any segment can benefit from an on-staff expert,” she says.

Schrader also does a lot of networking through her local Home Builders Association or National Association of the Remodeling Industry. 

“It’s the easiest place for me to get in front of people who purchase the products,” Schrader says. “The Home Builders Associations also put on programs that are open to the public to educate people about how to adapt a home, and those are great opportunities to get a product in front of the homeowner and see if it is really desirable.”

Besides building and remodeling shows, Schrader also attends senior fairs. “It gives me even more credibility to appear at these venues and it helps me learn what other products are out there to help people stay in their homes,” she says.

After researching and writing this aging-in-place feature, there are two ideas that I think would benefit distributors and dealers wanting to focus on this market. One: set up an area in your showroom (near the front and easily assessable) that displays aging-in-place products. Two: set up a catalogue and/or manual that shows aging-in-place products as well as the building-code and city-code requirements for using them.

While I’m glad to give you some ideas, I know you will find more in the feature, “Aging with Ease.”  Writing and researching this feature really touched me, and I wager that reading it might affect you, too. 

© Copyright 2007 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.