As the founder of many businesses and creator of many products, his core business remains his remodeling firm Lifetyme Exteriors, which is in the high-end painting market to the tune of $3.5 million in revenue each year. “We do it just with residential repaints,” Ripley says.
After college graduation and prior to founding Lifetyme Exteriors, Ripley worked with a spray-on siding company he believed wasn’t substantiating its product’s claims. After buying a franchise, he further developed the concept of spray-on siding to validate the claims.
Ripley spent three years working on this while buying two companies that eventually were acquired by a major paint manufacturer, which developed the home-improvement product.
Ripley believes remodelers are in a perfect position to identify and create product development opportunities. “The remodeling market is the ultimate definition of what would be the best-case scenario for innovation, which is in places that don’t have artificial ceilings, and we have this in home improvement and remodeling. Remodeling contains the perfect primordial ooze,” he says.
Checklist for Success
Ripley’s checklist for innovation and profitability involves asking three questions:
1) Do you believe you have a system or product that is superior to someone else? “Remodelers all say yes. When they tell me yes, however, I ask them if they have it or do they know it? The difference is massive,” he says.
2) Can you communicate that knowledge effectively? “Not just with their mouth, but written out and made simple. So many people feel they know what they do, and they might, but when it comes time to put what they know on paper or describe it, they might as well be telling you how to build a time machine,” he says.
3) Can you afford to develop it without killing the goose that’s providing the means to develop it? “You have to be smart enough to keep your core business profitable while developing something new.”
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