Matt Wisenbaker believes that the typical remodeling process needs some work—and he aims to improve it. His company has already modernized the process by setting up shop in an unusual location.
Wisenbaker’s firm, MSA Remodeling, is stationed in a year-round home show dubbed MainStreet America. Opened in February 2013 on the heavily trafficked I-45 corridor north of downtown Houston, the park has seen 38,000 people pay the $15 entry fee to tour a dozen fully furnished model homes built on a mock cul de sac. Visitors use a specialized tablet computer to obtain information (and save it to a personalized wish list) on everything featured in the homes, from the art on the walls to the carpeting, paint colors, and cabinetry. When they’re finished, MSA Remodeling stands are the only company in the village ready to fulfill their renovation wishes.
“Consumers have to overcome a lot of obstacles to get a remodeling project off the ground,” Wisenbaker says. “They have to go one place for architectural and another for engineering. Through the park, we provide a one-stop shop that handles every aspect of the remodeling process for consumers, including financing.”
MSA Remodeling employs seven full-time staffers, and projects to book 50 jobs in 2014 at an average of $75,000 apiece. “The sheer size and caliber of the park gives MSA Remodeling a sense of legitimacy and security in the eyes of consumers,” Wisenbaker says. “A lot of remodelers still operate out of the back of their trucks, but consumers know where they can find us after the job is done.”
Consumers may have found them, but two of the area’s top remodelers have not. “I don’t know a single [client] who has said a thing about MainStreet America,” says Leslie King, head of Greymark Construction, a high-end remodeling firm. King is also this year’s president of the Greater Houston Builders Association. “I understand the concept, but not for remodeling. Why would anyone want to drive all that way to tour model homes to get remodeling ideas? Frankly, we look up everything with our clients on Houzz to help them refine what they want in their remodel.”
“Houston is vast,” he says, describing a market that’s larger than New Jersey and has nearly 6 million residents. “Stuff going on up north (where MainStreet America is located)? We don’t know what’s going on up there.”