Indy-based bathroom remodeler rides COVID-fueled home improvement wave – Indianapolis Business Journal


When Pendleton resident Ann John decided to remodel her 89-year-old father’s bathroom, it wasn’t to bring it up to date. It was to keep him out of an assisted living community.

“I am my father’s guardian, who still lives in the house where I grew up,” John said. “The downstairs bathroom had a tub and shower combo, and he can’t do that anymore. To keep it in his house, he needed to have a walk-in tub installed.

She eventually turned to an Indianapolis company called New Bath Today to do the job. Founded by brothers Mike and Ryan Redman, it offers a focused specialty: converting conventional tub and shower combos to walk-in tubs or shower-only arrangements.

Michael Redman, left, and his brother Ryan Redman have turned bathtub conversions into one of the fastest growing businesses in the region with New Bath Today. (IBJ Photo/Eric Learned)

“They did a fantastic job,” John said. “It’s an older house and they were able to coordinate the tub with the rest of the bathroom without having to redo the whole place.”

According to Erica Mosse, content director of the online magazine Pro Remodeler, this type of business is becoming more common, with remodeling and remodeling companies eschewing the “do it all” approach in favor of specializing in decking, windows, kitchens. or bathrooms. Demand for these niche services (as with just about every home improvement product) is exploding.

“Renovators literally can’t keep up with demand,” Mosse said. “So I would say everything is a trend right now.”

Among the most important customers for this sort of thing are baby boomers who want to “age in place,” but who find it increasingly problematic to climb into the conventional tub and shower arrangements of their homes. In their case, a walk-in tub or a walk-in shower may be preferable. However, the concept of a quick and complete bathroom renovation also appeals to younger customers, who are more driven by instant gratification than infirmity.

This New Bath Today project transformed a tub and tub combo into an easier-to-access walk-in tub. These conversions are often ordered by baby boomers who have physical challenges and need easier access. (Photos courtesy of New Bath Today)

“Baby boomers are definitely a big chunk of that, but another chunk is people who just want a quick update,” Mosse said. “They want to make cosmetic upgrades to their bathroom without having to tear out all the interior structures and render the space unusable for weeks or months.”

The range of redesign available from these companies spans the entire budget spectrum.

At the bottom of the scale are places that specialize in fiberglass bath inserts that are mounted over an existing tub-shower combo. The results aren’t too different from what you’d find in the typical Motel 6, but are undeniably cheaper than virtually any other option.

On the opposite end of the price spectrum are full-service interior designers and remodelers, who can tear a bathroom down to the studs and offer everything from custom tile work to extensive new plumbing, as well as an invoice that can range from the low to the middle five figures. Without forgetting a period of time measured in weeks or even months.

The middle market

Somewhere between these two options is New Bath Today.

CEO Mike Redman and President Ryan Redman combine three decades in the home improvement industry, providing general contracting services.

But in 2016, they decide to open a second business which will soon become New Bath Today. The plan was spurred by a program offered by Kohler Co., which (among many other products) manufactures and distributes bathroom accessories ranging from fixtures to wall coverings.

When Wisconsin-based Kohler launched a program allowing contractors to buy his wares directly from the company, the Redman brothers took advantage by starting their own highly specialized installation company.

“We were looking for opportunities in this space in 2015 and considering what type of product we might want to sell,” Ryan Redman said. “Kohler was looking to start a program in a similar space, so we connected with them. They weren’t very interested in partnering with a startup, but we convinced them to give us a shot with their Indianapolis territory. .

Since that fateful day, Ryan estimated, their company has installed some 10,000 shower or tub conversions. While it has also done the occasional toilet replacement, its killer application is bath/shower area conversion. And only the bathroom/shower.

“Generally we stick with what we just call the wet space, which is the shower itself,” Ryan said.

In this conversion, New Bath Today transformed a traditional tub-shower combo into a large walk-in shower. The new design appeals to baby boomers and young couples looking for a quick update. (Photos courtesy of New Bath Today)

Ryan described the options presented by New Bath Today as something akin to a quality restaurant that serves an extremely limited menu. The company offers a variety of showers and walk-in tubs manufactured by Kohler, as well as wall treatments and accessories. In exchange for working with a somewhat truncated product list, customers get the Kohler name, a quick turnaround, and a lower price than a full-spectrum restorer.

“We definitely have a more limited selection list,” said Mike Redman. “Before all this COVID stuff, we did custom stuff for people ordering special things. But we have stopped this for the past few months because it really slows down our work. We want our crews to work every day on things they are good at.

Mike said the company’s shower/tub renovations typically range between $15,000 and $20,000. Not as cheap as fiberglass insert sellers, but generally much cheaper than using a full service restorer.

“We are definitely in the middle of the road,” he said. “Our average homeowner probably lives in a $250,000 house. But we also installed our products in $2 [million] and $3 million worth of homes before.

New Bath Today grew rapidly, becoming Kohler’s largest direct contractor in the United States. Although headquartered in Indianapolis, it has two other locations in Nashville, Tennessee, and Ann Arbor, Michigan, and its service area includes Indiana, Tennessee, West Virginia, Michigan, Kentucky, and Ohio.

Demand vs Labor

Mike described the current level of activity as “insane”.

“When the pandemic happened, everyone got nervous because we didn’t know if the world was going to stop,” he said. “We spent about three months wondering if we were going to survive, and then we thought, ‘Oh my God, how can we get enough product? How do you get materials? How to hire enough employees? It was a whole new set of challenges.

Although COVID has subsided for the time being, the Redmans said they are still grappling with the same issues and opportunities they have faced over the past two years.

On the positive side, demand remains white-hot.

“Between people working from home and those retiring early, almost everyone has changed their lifestyle to some degree,” Mike said. “Everyone wants to make their home as comfortable as possible because there are so many of them in it.”

This desire translates into approximately 250 bath installations per month for New Bath Today, as well as contracts for approximately 400 new jobs per month. All of this has created a substantial and growing backlog. Fortunately, few clients, perhaps hardened by the wait times they’ve endured for other home projects, balk at the roughly 16 weeks the company takes to get to work.

“We can’t keep up, with the shortage of labor and the shortage of supply, but we’re being honest with people when we tell them how far we’ve come,” Mike said. “And everyone kind of got used to hearing that, if you want something, you better order it now, because the times aren’t going to get any shorter.”

The company enjoys a few advantages over competitors, the brothers said, as it has seven warehouses spread across its multi-state service area, which means crews don’t have to drive around endlessly to pick up goods. for a job. And those warehouses are stuffed with $3-4 million worth of inventory. Mike attributed this huge supply of stocks to good money management.

“Most small businesses don’t manage their cash flow well enough,” he said. “It is difficult for them to have the place in a warehouse to store all this, and to have the money or the line of credit necessary.”

But when it comes to the other big bugaboo of today’s businesses – a shortage of skilled help – New Bath Today finds itself in much the same predicament as everyone else: too much work, no enough workers. Indeed, the problem is so acute that the Redmans have hired a talent acquisition manager to find more people to augment their full-time staff of about 60 people, plus contractors.

“All he does is recruit installers, salespeople, marketing and administrative staff every day,” Mike said. “We do everything we can to provide a better working environment, a better work package and a better salary package than everyone else.”

Inflation and high gas prices have been another issue for a company with a footprint that spans many states.

“It leads to an increase in labor because everyone has to pay more for fuel, whether it’s moving products or getting our workers to work,” Ryan said.

Always expanding

Currently, the company is planning to expand into another state, although the brothers believe they are still far from fully saturated the areas in which they already operate. The company’s original plan was to achieve $150 million in revenue within the first five years.

“We’ll probably pump it up maybe [the] $85 [million] to $90 million this year,” Ryan said. “But a lot of that will depend on the labor situation and product availability.”

Another factor that creates more business is the boiling housing market. As with other renovators, the Redmans get calls from homeowners who want to improve their surroundings but don’t want the hassle of finding and buying a new abode amid perhaps the strongest seller’s market in the world. United States history.

“As house prices rise across the country, many people are finding it makes more sense to remodel the home they’re in than to buy a new one,” said Mosse of Pro Remodeler magazine.•


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