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From Our President

Thank you for visiting our site. For over 25 years DEC International has delivered exclusive content to thousands of companies just like yours! What makes us different and of value to you is the wide breadth of services we offer that allow you to time your sales efforts more effectively than anywhere else. DEC has a unique outlook on researching; we believe it is a cooperative effort between our Members and ourselves. Finally, we know that we work at your pleasure.

Allan Feifer
President, DEC International

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My role at DEC is changing and it’s making me much more contemplative than I have been in the past. That’s a good thing. The funny thing about getting older; your IQ is certainly not going up, but my decisions making tends to be more conservative. Some of the actions I took in years gone by would not go the same way if I were making them over again today. Some of you already know that I’ve been a pilot since 1972. That’s a long time and makes me feel a lot older than I thought I was! There’s an old expression that all pilots know and most actually adhere to:

“There are old pilots, and, there are bold pilots, but there are no old bold pilots”

How many business decisions would you revisit if you could? Business decisions boil down into one of two categories:

  • Analytical
  • Emotional

All of us would like to think that we almost always make analytical decisions when it comes to business, but what starts out as considered thought often winds up being an emotional decision. Some call it from the “gut” and others just let the spirit move them at times. However, all of us possess the competing internal interests of desire, needs and a sense of what is correct or incorrect based on analysis of a given situation. How we balance these interests determines much of what we will accomplish in business and often in life.

Too many of us indulge in wishful thinking, where we assume the best and minimize the downsides of our decisions. Often, we get away with it, but other times we don’t. Recognizing the signs is often problematic for the same reasons we indulge in wishful thinking in the first place. Airmen are continually exposed to and sometimes actually learn how to recognize emotionally based wishful thinking. There are six different personality traits that define someone who is predisposed to an irrational urge to pull tigers tails. They are:

  • Anti-authority—ignoring what other people, both in authority and/or otherwise knowledgeable individuals say or knows about a particular course of action.
  • Impulsivity—Making snap decisions without clearly thinking through the potential consequences
  • Invulnerability—I call this the fat and happy attitude. Thinking that you, among all people, will not be touched by failure. That, you are a Master of the Universe.
  • Macho Man—this is the scariest of them all. The person who takes risks in defiance of his own knowledge and experience. Taking chances to show how good you are.
  • Resignation—giving up or thinking that you don’t have any other choice.
  • Mission-itis—an over the top focus on getting to whatever destination/position that blanks out everything else in your mind in spite of conflicting messages or knowledge to the contrary

Say it can’t happen to you? Dozens of pilots go to their death every year engaging in one or more of the above forms of suicidal thought. Every accident and every bad decision is part of a chain of events/decisions, which, if not for one thought, one action, things might have turned out differently. If you agree, let’s see what we can do about it.

There are two schools of thought on what you can do to eliminate or reduce wishful thinking. The first says concentrate on the pitfalls of every decision and you’ll make less bad ones. The problem with that is there are always pitfalls and sometimes it is difficult, if not impossible to quantify the risk to a degree that leads to certainty. The other school of thought centers on the inevitability of risk, especially in entrepreneurial situations, where doing nothing is simply not possible. As a pilot, I always have the option of not flying a mission at a particular moment. But, as a businessman, you are often in for a penny, in for a pound and hiding out is not an option, unless you are ready to retire! Here’s my approach:

Break your decision making down into critical and non-critical issues. Identify the critical decision issues as soon as it is feasible and write them down in a place that is segregated from all your other day-to-day notes. Give them importance. These important decisions are a kind of critical path that you ignore at your peril. Once you get in the habit of writing them down you have accomplished the easy part. The harder part is how to know that you have made the best decision possible. Try and avoid being emotional about these critical path decisions. Invite trusted individuals to help you with their advice as you critically analyze those issues that can ruin your day, if not your life.

Decision making is an inherently flawed process unless you control all elements of the issue; which we rarely do. In the absence of “perfect knowledge” we as individuals often come to decisions based more on our emotional makeup than the facts as presented. And, that’s fine; all of us have a different propensity for risk and varying degrees of experience applicable to any single problem. Minimize the chances for disaster by always being on guard to a flawed or even worse, absent process for accessing risk in our critical decisions.

Good Selling!

Allan Feifer is the President of DEC International. Allan started DEC more than 35 years ago and has background in the process and construction industries as well as many years as a recognized authority on construction trends and analysis. Allan lives in Florida with his wife and two cats. You can reach him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


Last blog, I promised some comparative numbers for you to see which way the market is moving and to help position yourself for growth. We’ll do so today. But first, I’ve got to say that I’m a huge believer in positive thinking. The problem is that we’ve been around a bit too long to completely forget what the market used to look like back in 2007, just before the train wreck that all but changed the way the sun rises and sets each day. Take a look at this graph, be depressed and then get over it.

Year Single-Family Permits Single-Family Dollars Commercial Permits Commercial Dollars Total Permits Total Dollars
2011 2,206 $300,135,204 1,438 $486,787,476 3,644 $786,922,680
2010 2,373 $301,876,086 1,235 $348,077,789 3,608 $649,953,875
2009 1,802 $191,687,513 1,663 $703,586,970 3,465 $895,274,483
2008 4,538 $599,270,246 4,496 $1,614,806,476 9,034 $2,214,076,722
2007 11,548 $1,587,412,657 4,287 $1,766,389,792 15,835 $3,353,802,449

There is an enormous amount of information that can be gleaned from the information above. Even more if you are a DEC subscriber, because you have the tools to drill down into specific market segments that enable you to point yourself in the best direction. Please excuse my shameless commercial plug for our company!

First let’s talk about Single-Family. Average new home pricing was $137k in 2007, $106k in 2009 and back up to $136k so far this year. Keep in mind that there has been a general shift to purchasing existing stocks of previously owned homes and that nearly half of those are being bought in either foreclosure or by short sale. DEC International forecasts we’ll see over a billion dollars of new sale single-family construction this year and a continuing disparity both geographically and in price points as builders weigh carefully where, when and what to build. High end builders are servicing an ever larger group of well-heeled individuals buying expensive homes with all cash or large down payments in an attempt to “park” their money for the long-term. Large builders will continue to solidify their hold on the Atlanta market to a degree not previously seen, due to their access to inexpensive capital and their ability to acquire and hold bargain basement land. Opportunities are out there and are likely to slowly accelerate, mirroring the national outlook. It’s all about confidence at this time.

Commercial construction has an immutable connection to single-family construction. New neighborhoods are developed in response to an in-migration of people moving into our markets with jobs. Atlanta and the state at large are beginning to develop a steadily growing highway of jobs and the people who come to fill them. DEC forecasts 50,000 net in-migration in 2011. Make no mistake about it; we are years away from a full economy, but construction often gets out ahead of the path of growth and development and this recovery will eventually mirror past recoveries. Let’s take a look at the numbers above. Commercial projects in 2007 averaged $112k. In 2009 the average was $203k and currently, the number is an average of $133k. The conclusion we draw is that we are back to a more normal mix of projects after only certain large projects already in the pipeline were going forward a couple of years ago. We see a lot of tenant finish work moving forward as lease rates are very depressed for landlords and extremely favorable for those signing leases right now. Look for an increase in medical projects, multi-family construction and more bargain priced retail to dominate this year. Also, we see a continued push for large distribution facilities as many companies consolidate smaller facilities into larger ones. Financing is available to successful, cash flush companies, but will continue to be tight for everyone else. Commercial construction will rebound faster than single- family due to the continued overhang on the single-family market.

When you look at the above numbers it’s hard to remember what a “normal” market looks like. We’ve been collecting permit information since 1993. For the same period, let’s say 1997, residential and commercial counts were 10,410 and 2,922 respectively. Worth noting, those commercial permits averaged $311k back then.

Each reader will likely draw a different conclusion as to what these numbers mean except for a general consensus that the road back is long and steep. One bright point for all you survivors out there…there is less competition at every level. There are fewer subs, suppliers and GC’s than at any time in the last 20 years, based on both objective and subjective information we accessed. Unfortunately, they are also chasing a markedly smaller market as well. And, therein lies the rub. Georgia is a big state. We have 159 counties and hundreds of cities, making it all but impossible to know everything there is to know. That’s why we hope you will rely on us with our many different reports and services designed to keep you in the know and give you that strategic advantage that you need, not only to survive, but to prosper in this market.

I hope you are on plan for a good year. We would love to hear from you concerning this blog or any other I’ve written; write me below with your comments, insights and thoughts. Or, better yet, call us today and find out how we can help you be one of those winners starting right now. It’s a fact, that historically 80% of industry participants never spend money to make money. Quite a few of them are probably not around anymore. Be proactive, call right now.

Good Selling!

Allan Feifer is the President of DEC International. Allan started DEC more than 35 years ago and has background in the process and construction industries as well as many years as a recognized authority on construction trends and analysis. Allan lives in Florida with his wife and two cats. You can reach him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


Winter’s last hoorah is just about over and longer, sunnier days are on the menu. I’ve had a lot of people ask me what the market is looking like and I have several metrics that we can look at. Starting in April, we’ll do a year to year comparison on a couple of forward looking metrics. I’d love to hear from you in reference to what you’d like to see in our report besides the obvious permit stats. Drop me a line; we’d love to hear from you! Last month I had a lot more people chatting me up about what they were going to do differently than in the past.


2011 roared in with some of the most unusual weather we have ever seen. As I write this most businesses are still closed and construction has all but halted over a large swath of Georgia. I can however, promise better times in the very near future. This year my blog will concentrate on providing you timely stats you can use in your own day-to-day planning and the best sales advice and techniques we can muster.



There is a general consensus that has taken root from the bottom to the top that homebuilding is the key to an economic recovery. No politician can expect to be reelected by telling his constituency that everything will be back to normal in five to ten years; that’s not acceptable and is contrary to the American spirit of doing the impossible. During the Second World War, General Motors (didn’t know they made planes?) in Michigan was building B-24 bombers at a rate of one every 55 minutes. That’s a large plane with about 1¼ million parts! The story goes that when German Intelligence told Hitler that we were building 26 bombers a day at a single plant with dozens more plants doing much the same; he could not believe it and disregarded the warnings. Hitler then made strategic decisions based on false assumptions which ultimately helped shorten the war considerably.


Sooner or later we will get our act together and the recovery will be shortened considerably. There’s going to be a great deal of money made over the next two to three years and it is part of our job to make sure that our readers get their share. Still reading? I thought so. Stay tuned as we move forward on the Leading Edge of what might turn out to be the greatest economic recovery of all times. You play a vital role in preparing the ground for that recovery. While it is individuals such as yourself that do the things that must be done and take the risks that must be undertaken, all of us benefit from those of you who do. Welcome to 2011 and let’s get started.


Here’s how to begin:

  1. Declare your intention—every plan begins with you deciding today, what your company is going to strive to accomplish. That plan must take into account what is reasonable and play to your strengths while working on your weaknesses.

  2. Take stock—what is it that I do right and what is it that I do wrong? Every business has a different center of gravity. Some are large and hard to turn, while others are small and nimble. Some are cash heavy, while others are much nearer the edge. Advantage lies everywhere; find yours and use it to your benefit.

  3. Know your market—how can anyone plan unless they know what market they are playing in? This takes two forms; first, you need to know what is out there and who the players are. That’s where we come in! Second, you need to slice and dice the market info to determine what share of your chosen slice you have. Without this knowledge, how can you grow?

  4. How good is your selling—I can’t emphasize this enough; in this market you have to offer something more than price. You must state from the outset what distinguishes you from that other driveway builder, landscaper, General Contractor, etc. Every company, from one man shows to the biggest, must not screw up its pitch. You never know if you will ever get the opportunity again. There’s a whole lot of hungry fish swimming in that pond!

  5. Perception of the economy—every day you must fight the negative thinkers who only can give your reasons for failure. You must be the shining star that gives direction, confidence and the way forward. If not you, then who?

  6. Operations vs. Sales—few of us got into the business we are in from sales route, most got there by building on what they were training or apprenticed in, or through family. As such we have our built in biases towards Operations. Force yourself to pay attention to the sales process every day; it’s what feeds you!

  7. Be a tyrant—customers always come first. Do not except excuses from your people for not doing what needs to be done to support your clients. It is all too easy to be “reasonable” and to accept excuses. The thing about excuses is that they become a habit. Most of us know the difference between real issues and habitual excuse making. Your business suffers when you get suckered in.

  8. Hope is not a strategy—we’ve said it before and we’ll say it again! Anyone who does not plan and then execute lives in a world filled with gray thinking. Do not allow yourself to fall into the trap of “wishing” for things to be better; make it so. Reevaluate whenever things change and adapt to the changed conditions.

  9. Ride the wave—success is much easier when you are at the beginning of a change, instead of jumping on just as that wave is receding. There is no way to take risk out of life. Make your choices based on the best information you have and weigh the consequences carefully. But, don’t let your fears overcome your considered thought.

  10. Buy in — you cannot delegate some things. The look and feel of your company should never be a function of chance. Instead, it must be the choices you have made based on experience, knowledge of your capabilities, and the goals you decide on.

Well, this is my vision of the way ahead for this year. I conspicuously left out when I think things will ramp up faster than the current pace. Let’s leave that for another blog. Best to everyone and stay dry and safe.


Allan Feifer is the President of DEC International. Allan started DEC more than 35 years ago and has background in the process and construction industries as well as many years as a recognized authority on construction trends and analysis. Allan lives in Florida with his wife and two cats. You can reach him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


How do you do your best each and every day?  It's easy - just follow these 10 (and a half) simple steps!  Imagine the productivity growth you would see within your business, within your family, and within your life!  Share this list with your team, your family, or anyone else who could benefit from increased productivity.  Happy Selling!


1. Wake up early.

The early bird does not get the worm. The early bird makes the money. Work while others sleep.



2. Love what you do.

If you don’t love it, you will never rise to the top. Love it, or leave it.



3. Dedicate yourself to being a life-long student.

How many books did you read last year?



4. Convert anger to resolve.

Anger is the biggest waste of energy on the planet. It blocks positive thought. It blocks creative thought.



5. Convert barrier to breakthrough.

You may know it as objection. Or even rejection. Stick at it until you win, and you will gain personal, mental dominance.



6. Take every “no” as “not yet.”

You don’t hear with your ears. You hear with your mind. The way you accept other’s words will determine your fate. Gain an attitude of positive acceptance.



7. Watch little or no television.

You’ll never succeed watching television. Convert TV time to study time. Convert TV time to preparation time. Convert TV time to thinking time. Invest your time, don’t spend it.



8. Read for twenty minutes every morning.

Reading provides the opportunity for quiet insight. You can reflect on the ideas and thoughts of others, and immediately convert them to your own success formula. Your best chance for success is reading. Learn to earn. Read to succeed.



9. Write for twenty minutes every morning.

What should you write about? Anything you want! Begin to clarify your thoughts and ideas in writing.



10. Call people you love -- and tell them you love them.

Love is not motivation. Love is inspiration. To be your best, you must go beyond motivation -- to inspiration.



10.5 Tell yourself you’re the best.

“I am the greatest of all time.” Muhammad Ali said that thousands of times. Millions of people agree he was the greatest of all time. He began that journey by telling himself first. So can you.



Business Facts - Learn about new businesses.
Planning & Zoning - Early real estate development information.
Permit Facts - New construction and renovation permits.
Atlanta Housing Report - Permits for new construction.
Prospector - All things commercial construction in Atlanta and environs

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