It’s been 13 years since Steve Newman, having sold his laminate flooring company in Atlanta, returned to South Florida to provide a custom residential service more pressing to tri-county homeowners than the surface beneath their feet. How do you maximize home storage opportunities when space, especially for those who have downsized, is at a premium?
Since launching a Closet Factory franchise in 2004 with only 10 people, Newman has tasked an ever-growing stable of designers and consultants to answer that question. As the numbers suggest, his team has delivered—and then some. Today, in addition to boasting a workforce of some 100 employees, the Deerfield Beach-based company is the top-selling Closet Factory among the 51 outlets across the United States.
“The most fulfilling part of my job is seeing the employees grow professionally and from a compensatory standpoint,” says Newman, 54, who grew up in Coral Springs but now lives in Lighthouse Point. “We promote from within the organization; all of our current managers started with the company in entry level positions and have grown as the company has succeeded.”
Part of that success lies in its ability to think outside the closet. The company continues to expand its offerings, providing buildouts and design solutions for home offices, laundry rooms, man caves, play rooms, wine rooms and other spaces. Recently, Closet Factory added a garage division, as well as a builder division that gives developers and contractors access to customized storage options that can be installed before the completion of a residential project.
Lifestyle spoke to Newman about the trends that are driving the industry.
Part of the company’s success seems to involve anticipating the next big thing. Why did you feel a builder division and custom garage division would be well-received?
Our market has [several] high-end residential builders, semi-custom builders and production builders in need of our products. Our company has the infrastructure to accommodate the builders’ timelines and product needs. Also, South Florida is ripe with car enthusiasts who value the space in which they store their vehicles. The garage segment has seen a substantial increase in past years and is a natural evolution of our products from the inside of the home.
Are closet makeovers and buildouts still primarily about maximizing space? Or have the available upgrades changed the landscape?
Your closet is where you start and end your day. Clients are looking for ways to maximize the space but also to decrease the cycle time it takes to create their daily wardrobe. Closet Factory designs a functional space, then lets the client layer the look relative to their own individual budget. This has transcended [closets]. We can take a basic organizational plan for an office or garage and create a look from the simple to the spectacular.
Can you point to three current trends that you’re seeing at Closet Factory?
Design trends have been moving toward simple, cleaner lines for a few years now. Closet Factory has the ability to mix and match door and drawer faces of accentuating colors to accomplish this more transitional look.
We have a licensing agreement with Motor Trend, the industry leader in automotive publications. This alignment has created a garage line of cabinets and flooring, which has been in desire by this segment of the buying population.
Investing in high-tech manufacturing equipment has allowed Closet Factory to reduce the cycle time from order placement to completion of install. Clients have asked for shorter lead times. This is also accomplished with our state-of-the-art design software. This software allows the client to see in 3-D how the finished product will look in their home.
What trends on the horizon have you most excited?
As this product continues through its natural product life cycle, it is still in its early adolescence. We are just now seeing second- and third-time purchasers of our products. The future is very bright for this industry as a greater percentage of the buying population becomes more familiar with custom-storage solutions.