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Viewrail Blog

Interview with Paul DeGrandis, Owner of Sola Group

Posted by Caleb Morris on Jul 8, 2019, 9:13:59 AM
Caleb Morris

We recently had the chance to interview Paul DeGrandis, President & Owner of Sola Group. Sola Group manages publications such as Qualified Remodeler and Residential Design and has been serving the industry for over 40 years.

Watch below as Len Morris, Founder & Owner of Viewrail interviews Paul while at the American Institute of Architects Conference in Las Vegas. You can also read the transcription below the video.

 

LEN: 

Hi, I'm Len with Viewrail, here at the AIA show and convention, and joining me is Paul DeGrandis, the Owner and the President of Sola Group. He's got 30+ years of experience in the industry and understands the trends and really sees what's going on. Paul, won't you tell us a little bit of your history, your story, and your appreciation for the community here at AIA? 

 

PAUL: 

Absolutely. Well I think first we should congratulate AIA for bringing together yet another conference: bringing designers and architects together, as well as building products manufacturers, all focusing on delivering design to the market, whether it's residential or non-res. So really, hats-off to the AIA for that. Almost 30 years—29 years—coming to residential and non-residential designing construction events. And we're at a different point right now in the United States, that I think is a good place for us, with a focus on performance: a focus on innovation. Those are words that people have talked about, but we have the science behind it, especially in the residential market, now, that is really taking housing to a new level, and a level that I think we've needed.

 

LEN:

I agree, Paul, let's unpack those words: performance and innovation—hang some meat on those. What are you seeing here that really speaks to you and says, “These guys have something unique: it’s innovative, and it's gonna perform for the end-user”?

 

PAUL:

Absolutely. Well, if you start with the building envelope: the technologies for the building envelope to incorporate structural and R-values, and the ability to build a tight home with higher quality products. And then on top of that, these products save on the labor for the installation. So that's another issue that's out there, and we're seeing increased performance and reduced labor. What a great place to be.

 

LEN:

Labor: what an incredible challenge, as well as opportunity, and it's fun to see that manufacturers are embracing that and bringing solutions to the market. Is there anything in particular that you would want to highlight that you've seen here at AIA this year?

 

PAUL:

It has to do with a number of the building envelope manufacturers on the residential side: there's two or three of them here in particular. There's one leader, that I've seen, which is Huber, and their zip systems, and then a number of other manufacturers that have identified this as a key point. And you can't drive anywhere in this country and not see zip systems green sheathing, on multifamily, on residential—and hats-off to them for what they're doing. But then on top of that, there are design trends that overlay over that: there's metal on roofs and on the sides of homes that add architectural details that we didn't see before, and a move towards more contemporary styling. So you take metal, matched with the designs from traditional US wood window manufacturers coming out with their contemporary windows, and you see these performance and design movements that we didn't have over a few decades, and now we have them over a short period of time.

 

LEN:

Fair to say that you're seeing the industry is moving through innovation, moving beyond

performance, now into something that is designed, and people are really ready to

embrace that move and that change?

 

PAUL:

They shouldn't be mutually exclusive. Homes need to perform—and, we're Americans: we like our individuality, we want our own stamp on it, and we can do that. So why not have a high-performing home that's a signature of who we are?

 

LEN:

Paul, if I can, can we shift to the Viewrail product, and what you see here in design and performance? Viewrail’s worked really hard at getting this down to a one day installation, to address those labor issues that you're talking about, as well as to bring the interest of design. What do you see, as a guy with tremendous experience in this field?

 

PAUL:

“Tremendous”: let's let's see if I can fulfill on that promise. I believe the staircase, as a centerpiece of the home, used to be simply for the high-high-end: it was more functional. And what Viewrail has done has really made an architectural statement for homes at more price points. I believe design shouldn't be just for the wealthy: design should be experienced at all price points. And Viewrail allows a home to integrate upstairs and downstairs—the two floors—in an architectural way, not just a functional way, and bring together a feel of the home that wasn't there maybe 20 years ago.

 

LEN:

Well I appreciate those words, you just really struck a chord with exactly what our mission has been. And what we have sought to do is transporting something—and transforming it—just from a functional piece, into a design piece, and making it affordable and reducing the labor at the same time. It's been hard work. Design is incredibly hard work: simple is the most difficult thing there is to do, and I appreciate you sharing with that. Anything else you would want to tell us, or encourage the industry with, Paul?

 

PAUL:

Keep pushing, and embrace the next generation. Bringing the next generation into this industry is exciting. Every generation looks at the previous generation and says, “Ah, they're not gonna amount to anything,”—that is not the case when our parents said that to us, and that shouldn’t be the case when we chide our kids on that. So: embrace the new, and let's all do it together.

 

LEN:

Thank you very much, Paul. Appreciate your time.

 

PAUL:

Thank you.



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