Dealers Discuss 'Other Room' Expansion Plans

Kitchen & Bath Design News recently posed the question to dealers and designers in the kitchen and bath industry: “Will your firm be expanding into other areas (such as outdoor kitchens) this year to build additional revenue? Why or why not?” Following are some of their responses:

“Currently I am working on two outdoor kitchens, which is a first for me. It’s been fun and interesting and I’m learning about new materials.

I find it interesting that homeowners are calling on kitchen designers for these spaces. I think people are realizing they are an extension of the indoors. They want them to flow with their homes and to be functional. If you do kitchen and bath design, it’s a good area to expand into. You can use your expertise about what you know inside and apply it outside.

I’ve noticed overall an increased interest and investment in entertainment spaces. It’s additional square footage that adds value. People want to make their homes spaces they can enjoy all year long, spaces where they can entertain family and friends. I’ve seen this trend grow stronger over the past three years. I don’t anticipate this new revenue will become a hefty percentage of my business, but it’s definitely a nice supplement.”

Stacy Riley, owner,
Allied member ASID
Compass Design, LLC
Indianapolis, IN

“We aren’t really expanding into other areas beyond our core business of remodels, new construction and additions. We’re general contractors, but what makes us a little different is that we have a custom cabinet shop and millworks so we can do our own casework and fulfill our own interior needs.

We have, however, become more focused on recapturing some of the market, to get back on track with what built the company over the past 40-plus years, without having to expand into other areas.

We’re doing more aggressive marketing, including social media. In addition to our Web site, we have a Facebook page and Twitter account and we’re members of LinkedIn. It seems to be working. The close rate on our Internet calls was very low, but we’ve been getting a lot more viable connections and real jobs through the Internet than we ever did in the past. Now it’s certainly in the hunt with other means of advertising we do.”

Eric Balstad, CKD
Parrish Construction Co.
Boulder, CO

“I am fortunate that in this area – northern Virginia and Washington DC – we have plenty of work to keep us busy. We’ve actually been experiencing a massive boom. It’s probably a three-fold contribution between the stock market doing better, people sitting on money and now being willing to spend it and the housing market starting to rebound. A lot of foreclosed properties have been sold. The people who have purchased them have bought at considerably below market value so I’m getting a lot of clients who have recently moved into homes and are interested in doing some upgrades because they purchased their homes for less than what they normally would have paid.

In this area, especially, the losses that have accrued from the real estate market have been absorbed and it has started to settle back down. From a bottoming-out perspective, I think things have stabilized here and people are starting to reinvest in their properties.”

Jeff Thompson, owner, designer
Waterstone Kitchen & Bath
Ashburn, VA

“We won’t be expanding into other areas at this time. We feel that, right now, it’s better for us to focus on what we do best, and to do it well. I was a landscape architect major early on in college, and I have an interest in the outdoors. But we already have a couple of designers in the area who specialize in outdoor spaces, so we stay focused on our specialty – kitchen and bath design remodeling.

I like to explore and keep up with trends as technology changes, but to branch out into other areas just for the sake of expanding isn’t something we want to do.”

Stuart Harle, president, AKBD, Allied member ASID
Carriage House Design
Tulsa, OK

“The downturn in the economy hit Utah a little later than most other areas, so the past two years have been a challenge. Expanding into other areas is not something I’m considering right now.

We are a small company specializing in high-end design, but I am working to reinvent myself. It is not business as usual.

I am trying to maintain business, and one way I’m doing that is to become more involved in different industry associations. There are things going on out there, but it has become a bidding war, with a lot of designers vying for a small number of projects.”

Fred Eckman, owner, president, CKD
Eckman Designs
West Jordan, UT

“Our kitchen and bath company is part of Wilke Window & Door, which offers new construction and remodeling services as well as supplies for do-it-yourselfers in the southern Illinois and St. Louis areas.

We went through a recent expansion last year when we opened a second store in the St. Louis area. It was a great opportunity for us based on the location. We now have locations in Fenton and St. Charles, MO, and Belleville and Carterville, IL. The new store hasn’t been open quite a year yet, but business has been going pretty good so far.”

Amber Warchol, kitchen designer
LifeStyle Kitchens & Baths,
a division of Wilke Window & Door
Belleville, IL