Design center to serve homeowners, builders

Oct. 23--Steve Persinger and Chip Rennick were born a month apart. They played together growing up and attended the same school. So when they ended up in business together years later it wasn't a big surprise.

These days the two business owners -- Mr. Persinger of Lookout Supply Co. and Mr. Rennick of Evans Lumber Co. -- are working to bring something new to Chattanooga's homebuilding industry.

The two friends have teamed to open a showroom, called the Architectural Design Center for architects, builders, designers and dreamers planning their fantasy homes. The design center is in Shallowford Business Park West with the opening planned Nov. 1.

"Our goal with the Architectural Design Center is to create a resource for architects, interior designers, homebuilders and homeowners to come to one location and be able to pick out basically every exterior and interior product for their construction projects," Mr. Persinger said.

Both men said home improvement and design shows on HGTV and TLC have dramatically changed the landscape of the building industry.

David Crittenden, the sales manager for Evans Lumber who has been helping Mr. Rennick and Mr. Persinger at the design center, said customers also are changing.

"Consumers are more educated than they were 10 years ago," Mr. Crittenden said. "People want to find things they see on the Internet, and they can't find it anywhere."

Now, Mr. Rennick said, people will be able to see and touch those specialty items that previously had been available only on the Web.

Almost every piece of wall and floor in the design center features some type of cutting-edge product or design, such as composite decking made from recycled materials, stained concrete floors and countertops and even a stainless steel front door.

Other rooms in the design center feature various styles of hardwood flooring, stair spindles and textured crocodile-patterned tile flooring.

Visitors to the design center can explore trends and research products on the showroom's computers, and they can experiment with different types of molding on the site's interactive wall made of Velcro.

Mr. Persinger said by working together on the design center -- in which they have invested about $200,000 -- he and Mr. Rennick can combine products and techniques from each of their businesses.

"We wanted to showcase different products than you normally see," Mr. Persinger said. "It's not all high-end -- it meets the needs of all homeowners."

E-mail Amy O. Williams at awilliams@timesfreepress.com

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