Houston Remodeler Is Keynote Speaker in Japan Cities Tour

HOUSTON, TEXAS  NOVEMBER 1st Houston Remodeler Dan Bawden, Pres & CEO of  Legal Eagle Contractors just returned from a construction-based speaking tour in Japan.  The tour took place between October 5th to October 12th, 2019.

A nationally recognized expert-in-aging place design, Bawden was invited to Japan by the U.S. Department of Commerce to do a three-city tour as the Keynote Speaker.  He traveled to Tokyo, Osaka, and Fukuoka Japan by bullet train to address residential construction trade organizations in those cities.

Attendees included home-builders, architects, designers, and materials suppliers,including lumberyard dealers.  In each city, members of the local U.S. Consulate also attended.  Mr. Bawden spoke to the groups through Japanese translators, who also assisted with the questions posed by Japanese attendees at the conclusion of the Keynote presentations.

The Department of Commerce and the Evergreen Building Products Association (www.ep.org) in Portland, OR,periodically arrange these “trade missions” to connect American businesses with Japanese ones.  These encourage trade between the two countries.  The Trump administration fully supports increased trade between Japan and the United States.  Mr. Gary Stanley, Director of the U.S. Department of Commerce International Trade Administration was on the tour encouraging Trade on behalf of the Trump Administration.

Dan Bawden’s keynote presentations were about aging-in-place home modifications for the exploding senior population in Japan.  “Japan has 100,000 people reaching the age of 100 years every month!” says Bawden after researching the demographic trends in Japan. “Their senior segment growth far exceeds that of the U.S.There are three reasons for this:  People live far longer because of their low-fat diet, the availability of good quality health care, and a strong sense of community and family,” says Bawden.

“The second reason their senior population comprises such a high percentage is ever-decreasing birth-rates.  This is occurring because of the strong cultural norm that men a be the breadwinners, and women are to raise families.  The Japanese economy is tougher than you might think. A high percentage of young men have part-time, and freelance jobs to make ends meet.  They simply cannot afford to have children to due to wide-spread ”economic insecurity”.The employment market is very competitive.  Only about twenty percent of men have long-term stable employment with one or two companies for the rest of their lives.  This means stable employment is at all-time low – a cultural shift from the way it used to be.   Young women are still expected to marry, remain in the home and raise children but more and more often are forced to work until they can afford to start a family”.

“The result is a serious shortage of people in the workplace vs then number of retirees, putting a strain on the pension system”, says Bawden.“Steady decreases in senior pensions limits family’s ability to do much-needed home modifications, such as ramps to get into the home, and basic remodeling for safer bathrooms”.“Assisted living places are far and few between in Japan. This means adding features that make homes safer and allow for independent living at home is more critical than ever in Japan, but this type of remodeling is a new concept there”, according to Bawden.  “They were amazed to see photos of specific aging in place ideas being put into American homes.”

The presentations were followed by receptions where attendees could meet one-on-one with the trade mission speakers to ask more questions.  “The receptions were wonderful!”, says Bawden.  “While networking with Japanese construction professionals, I got to try out many completely unfamiliar but tasty Japanese beverages, and consume all the sushi I could eat!”

Other speakers included a stucco materials company,  and Marvin Windows vendor,

The speaking tour was a great success.  “I hope I was able to increase awareness about a myriad of helpful aging-in-place ideas.  These can help both Japanese builders and Japanese families make their homes safer and more comfortable.”

Remodeling homes to accommodate seniors as they age of even for accessibility is largely unheard of in Japan.  The attendees viewed photos in Mr. Bawden’s presentation showing number of attractive products, such as designer grab rails,  and project ideas for aging-in-place, such as converting tubs to walk-in step-free showers.

“Most Japanese homes have very small bathrooms” says Bawden.  “There is usually a small rinse-off shower, and very deep bathtub to contend with.  The deep tubs are a source of difficulty, causing falls for older family members trying to climb in and out of them onto wet floors”.

Attendees had never seen most of the design ideas presented.  “They were standing up and taking photos of the slides with their cellphones” noted Bawden.  “That is always an indicator of high interest level in the subject”, he said.

Legal Eagle Contractors, Co. is a 37 year-old design-build home remodeling and custom-building company with offices and showroom in Houston, Texas.

If you would like more information about this topic, please call Dan Bawden at 713 723 8850 or email dbawden@legaleaglecontractors.com