Before consumer credit vanished with the recession, basement systems—substituting manufactured components for wood frame and drywall construction—were one of the hottest home improvements going. Then the credit shrank and many of the manufacturers and contractors serving that market disappeared.

That’s right about when Matrix Basement Systems came onto the scene. Matrix, founded in 2009, manufactures, markets, sells, and installs in the Chicago area. It’s run by partners Brian Barrick and Nick Richmond. The company is now selling components to other home improvement operations as well.

The product, a 4 x 8-foot panel wall system, resists water, fire, mildew, and mold; is well-insulated; and comes with an R-18 rating. “Drywall and studs is our No. 1 competitor,” says marketing manager Anne LaFrancis.

While the other basement finishing companies were fading away, Richmond figured out that it wasn’t the product that was the problem, but the ability of homeowners to finance (an average) $25,000 purchase. So he made it his business to ensure that customers could get credit. In its first year the company sold $2.5 million in basement systems. Last year, sales neared $8 million.

Managing growth and establishing a clear direction for the company have been the partners’ priorities. LaFrancis says that Matrix is looking to sell more of its product to other dealers, especially remodelers who specialize in kitchens, basements, and bathrooms.


  • Drawing on Richmond’s experience in the window replacement industry, the company created a Chicago-area lead machine that goes nonstop. “We don’t want people for a second to forget who we are,” LaFrancis says.
  • Print, home shows, Internet, and offers such as a 300-square-foot rec room for $6,995 are some of the ways that Matrix Basement Systems keeps things purring to the tune of 40 basement installs a month.