When Wayne Minde retired, his wife, Linda, continued to run Tri-Lite Builders while they researched selling the Phoenix company. After a year of negotiations with an area remodeler, the deal fell through. By then the recession had hit and the company’s value had decreased. Linda began thinking outside the box, researching a new type of arrangement or partnership and speaking to local remodelers, but failed to find a good fit.
Then she visited remodeler Steve Shinn, owner of Homework Remodels, in Phoenix, and a fellow member of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. “He is an honest guy, an ethical guy — he has all the qualities we were looking for,” Linda says. Shinn was open to purchasing a company as a long-term plan but wasn’t prepared for an immediate transaction. Linda told him that she was ready for a flexible partnership where she would continue her involvement with the company.
Shinn was excited about aligning himself with Tri-Lite. “Since 2009, I’ve been in that stage of business where you’re almost too big to be a small company, and too small to be a big company,” he says. “It’s a challenge to add extra expanses because you’re taking on overhead, but you don’t have the business to support it. This was a terrific opportunity to get over the hump and get my company past the million-per-year mark.”
In preparation for future expansion and growth, for the past five years Shinn had been working with a consultant to set up systems. “I needed systems to be successful long-term,” he says. Though the preparations were for organic growth, his investment also prepared him for an acquisition.
Shinn and his wife are now the owners of Tri-Lite Builders, but as Linda Minde is staying on, both companies are presenting the change as a partnership to their clients. Shinn understood the value of the Tri-Lite name and plans to maintain it. “Both companies had a good reputation in different ways and in different areas of the [Phoenix] valley,” Shinn says.
Minde markets Tri-Lite and follows up on leads. Once she sets an appointment, Shinn and his team take over design and production. Minde checks in with clients to review progress, visits jobsites, and attends weekly project manager meetings. “I don’t need her to work in the office. I need her to do what she enjoys — to be the personality of the business,” Shinn says. “She is there at all times for advice and input.”
Neither Shinn nor Minde have set a deadline for the partnership. Of Tri-Lite’s three employees, one stayed on to join Shinn’s two production employees. Each of the company websites references the partnership between the companies. Shinn created a blog for Tri-Lite, similar to the one he created for Homework Remodels, and both blogs feature both company logos, as do job signs and uniforms. Minde has begun incorporating stories about Homework Remodels in Tri-Lite’s monthly e-newsletter. “I’m slowly incorporating both of them so people get used to both names,” she says.
—Nina Patel, senior editor, REMODELING.