When Mark Loberg walked out on a six-figure income and a 20-year career in one of the nation’s top auto dealerships in 1999, he had no idea of what he was going to do next. He knew only that he wanted to work for himself.
“I was very frustrated working for other people,” Loberg, 45, said. “It was time for a change.”
It didn’t take Loberg very long to find his niche. He signed on with a company that was looking for distributors for a high-quality floor coating for residential garages, charging the initial supply of materials to his credit card and adding ready-to-assemble cabinets to his stock. Six months after leaving the dealership, Loberg launched PremierGarage.
“The offering was unique in that no one else was selling both components—the coating and cabinets—as a package,” he explained. “Also, it was geared to more affluent customers.”
From a one-person startup, Premier-Garage has evolved in just under nine years into the largest provider of garage enhancement in North America, with 86 franchisees in 38 states and three Canadian provinces. It has 122,000-sq.-ft. of manufacturing and distribution space and offers a menu of options, from innovative floor-coating systems to integrated cabinetry and organizers to complete makeovers.
Founder and CEO PremierGarage PhoenixAnnual sales: $53 million (est. 2007)Type of business: Manufacturer and marketer of garage enhancementsAreas of operation: Nationwide and Canada
“The garage is really the ‘last frontier’ of the home improvement industry in that homeowners are still discovering that there are many things they can do with that big space,” Loberg said. “We help them organize their garage and turn a completely dysfunctional space into one that is functional, clean and useful.”
For the most part, PremierGarage does not operate stores or display rooms. The company encourages its franchisees to form alliances with local home builders, in effect, creating a showroom in model-home garages.
“We also do a lot of direct mailings to customers with higher-scale home values,” Loberg said. “And we get a lot of traffic from sponsored searches on the Internet.”
As to his success, Loberg said there is no big mystery.
“We offer a quality product, take care of the customer right the first time, deliver what is promised and show up on time,” Loberg said. “Whether you are selling socks, cars or garages, it all comes down to taking care of your customers.”