Why buy a new home when you can simply remodel what you have? That’s the premise driving Trend Transformations, a residential and commercial remodeling business based in Miramar, Florida, that believes the tristate area — including Danbury and Scarsdale — are ripe for new franchises.
“There’s a lot of growth throughout New England right now,” said Mike Mallory, Trend Transformations’ vice president of franchise development in North America. “But we’re especially taken by these 15 locations, which we identified through our own market research and that of (information services group) Experian.”
Mallory said that Danbury is “one of the strongest territories in the United States. They have very, very strong demographics, which makes it a very attractive area for us to put a franchise into.”
Other targets, all of which contain at least 100,000 households, are Hicksville, Huntington, Medford, Southampton, and Stony Brook on Long Island; Mahopac, in New York’s Putnam County and New City in Rockland County; and Bridgewater, Middletown, Morristown, Ramsey, Stanhope and Wayne in New Jersey.
Trend’s installation process allows renovations to be completed in as little as one day by fitting surfaces directly over existing ones, eliminating demolition and waste. The company maintains that its proprietary, engineered stone products are stronger than traditional surfaces, making them suitable for a variety of surfaces such as kitchens, bathrooms, shower systems, backsplashes and floors. The company also offers cabinet refacing and storage options.
Mallory said a typical Trend kitchen installation runs about $5,500, depending on the market and amount of work needed.
Helping to drive Trend’s expansion into new markets is the recent addition of a second line to its manufacturing process at its 300,000-square-foot plant in Sebring, Florida, which Mallory said has effectively tripled its production. Sebring was originally chosen due to its proximity to recycling facilities, he said, as Trend uses a considerable amount of recycled materials in its granite, porcelain and glass products.
Trend is betting that the latest biennial Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies report, “Demographic Change and the Remodeling Outlook” — which predicts that homeowner spending on remodeling will continue to grow through at least 2025 — is correct. According to the study, the residential remodeling market, which includes spending on improvements and repairs by both homeowners and rental property owners, reached an all-time high of $340 billion in 2015, surpassing the prior peak in 2007. Spending by owners on improvements is expected to increase 2 percent per year on average through 2025 after adjusting for inflation — just below the pace of growth posted over the past two decades, and about on par with expected growth in the broader economy.
The large baby boom generation has led home improvement spending for the past 20 years. Expenditures by homeowners aged 55 and over are expected to grow by nearly 33 percent by 2025, accounting for more than three-quarters of total gains over the decade. The share of market spending by homeowners aged 55 and over is projected to reach 56 percent by 2025, up from 31 percent in 2005.
Gina Calabro, CEO of the Home Builders and Remodelers Association of Fairfield County, said that those trends are congruent with what her organization has seen here. “Baby boomers in general are realizing that they want to do things to their house so they can stay in it,” she said, “whether that’s remodeling a bathroom, adding an elevator or stair lift or lowering kitchen counter space and cabinets.
“Connecticut is an aging state,” Calabro said, a remark confirmed by the 2010 U.S. Census, which found Connecticut had the 14th-highest concentration of persons aged 65 and over, at 14.2 percent. A 2013 article in World Atlas put the state at 17th, but with a percentage of 15.4.
“That said, there are still a lot of new homes being built in Fairfield County … but in a lot of cases that involves older homes being torn down and new ones being built. Fairfield County-wise, it’s probably about 50/50.”
She added that the trend among millennials in the county appears to be buying a house with the intention of flipping it or remodeling it themselves. Such activity reflects what the Harvard study found on a national scale: that millennials are likely to buy existing homes requiring renovations, will focus on factors like energy efficiency, material health and home automation and thus provide remodelers an opportunity to explore such niches.
Mallory said the company expects to have a Danbury franchisee in place “within six months, but we don’t necessarily take things fast just to have them done. We want to make sure that we can establish and maintain a relationship that works for both parties.”
The total investment to open a Trend Transformations franchise ranges from $216,130 to $472,830. Trend is registered by the Small Business Association, making it easy for entrepreneurs to secure an SBA loan, Mallory said.