Marietta, GA, August 21, 2008 --(PR.com
)-- Allan Young's successful, but short-lived, career as a small-business consultant in Richmond, Va., was sidetracked in 2005 when he was deployed to the Middle East as an operations officer with the U.S. Army Reserve.
Young handed off some of his accounts to other consultants and returned six months later “thinking I wouldn't have any clients and would have to completely restart my business.”
One company waited. Launched out of a garage in 2000, the company designed, built and manufactured high-quality, custom Glide-Out shelving that fit existing cabinetry in kitchens, bathrooms and elsewhere throughout the home, gliding in and out with the touch of a finger and saving homeowners thousands on expensive remodeling while making their shelving more functional and easy to use.
The mother-son ownership team - Joyce Burgess and Andrew Kerwin - wanted Young to develop a growth plan and he implemented a dealership model for the business that Kerwin had launched after moving to Richmond from California, where he had worked in the shelf conversion industry and realized its potential. Within a year the company had 30 dealers throughout the country, all recruited by Young. What he saw in the industry was something he had witnessed before.
“I always viewed the closet industry as a very close cousin to ours. Looking at their history has enabled to make smarter, more strategic decisions,” Young said. “Ten to 15 years ago, the closet industry was where we were a couple of years ago. It was very fragmented and people never thought it would make it. Now you can find over 10 large, successful closet organization companies in every major market in the country.”
In what can only be described as a whirlwind, the 37-year-old Young, along with business partner and franchising veteran Barry Falcon, 56, has taken the foundation that Burgess and Kerwin established with their original concept and founded ShelfGenie Franchise Systems, the nation's only franchised provider of custom-built shelving solutions that glide in and out.
Franchising efforts were launched in May 2008. The company expects to grant two franchises a month through 2008 and expects to have 125 to 150 franchise owners by the end of 2010. ShelfGenie can be operated as a home-based business and the company is targeting major markets throughout the Northeast, Florida, Texas and California for initial growth.
“ShelfGenie is a natural as a franchise concept,” said Falcon, a self-described entrepreneur with considerable experience in manufacturing, operations and business consulting, who has also been involved in franchising from the franchisee and franchisor perspective. “We're looking for people with strong sales and marketing skills, not handymen. If you're skilled in those areas you will do well because we offer a high level of support and systems for everything else. There is a low cost of entry and people love our products.”
As co-founders of ShelfGenie, Young and Falcon serve as CEO and president, respectively. As Young's hands-on involvement with ShelfGenie's predecessor increased, he brought in Falcon to help launch a franchising program. Along with Kerwin and another associate, Doug Jensen, they had formed their own successful dealership umbrella - Cabinet Essentials Group - under the original concept with dealerships in Richmond, Atlanta, Chicago, Minneapolis and Birmingham, Ala. Chicago, for example, quickly grew to having 15 design consultants.
On April 2, 2007, Cabinet Essentials Group purchased the manufacturing facility in Virginia that was the exclusive provider of Glide-Out Shelving from Kerwin, his mother and stepfather.
“We controlled our destiny on the retail side and now we owned the manufacturing facility,” Young said. “We owned the entire process and that's when we were able to turn our focus to franchising. A franchise owner wakes up every day and says, 'I'm in charge of this business. I'm going to do everything I can to make sure it succeeds.' That's the type of person we wanted to grow our company.”
ShelfGenie holds appeal for many individuals with business management experience and strong sales and marketing skills looking for an affordable, home-based franchise opportunity that is easily scalable. Husband-wife teams are ideal and as well as existing service providers such as professional organizers, landscapers, home remodelers and pool contractors in cold-weather markets.
Franchise owners are billed only for appointments that the Business Support Center sets, eliminating one more fixed cost. “We don't charge our franchisees a monthly fee for the Business Support Center,” Young said. “And we do so much more for them, such as managing the installation process and providing customer support for the life of the product. Utilizing the Business Support Center eliminates any administrative staffing and expense concerns franchisees might have during peak and off-peak periods throughout the year.”
It has been quite a ride for Young to become involved with a local business - when he wasn't sure what awaited him upon his return from military duty in the Middle East - and see it evolve into a franchise concept that has the opportunity to become the first national brand in the shelf conversion industry as California Closets did in the closet industry.