2008 was an important year for Sue and Pierre Corso. After making the big decision to leave their native Toronto, Canada for a new lifestyle in Florida, Pierre accepted a new corporate position in Jacksonville. Sue, working in material management and sales at a home furnishing store, decided she was also ready for a change.
Sue knew that she wanted to go into business for herself, but she wasn’t sure exactly what that business would be. Together, the Corsos looked around their new home city for something to which they could relate. Sue says, “Our criteria for the new business venture had to be something fun and interesting with high growth potential.”
When they came across a More Space Place franchise being sold by the original owners, the Corsos looked closely at the business model. Through their due diligence, they saw solid financials and a system with a lot of opportunity. After looking at a few other concepts, they made the decision to become More Space Place franchisees.
The same year the Corsos invested in their new opportunity, the U.S. economy began its descent into the Great Recession. Nervously, they trudged on in with their new business and watched as other businesses struggled. They soon found they were able to weather one of the worst recessions the U.S has seen due to the versatility of the More Space Place business model.
At a time characterized by declining new home construction and a downturned housing market, people were opting to fix up their houses instead of selling. Due to the variety of products they offered through More Space Place, the Corsos found themselves riding the remodeling wave. And now with the housing market picking up, they find themselves busy with new construction projects. This sort of ability to adapt to the market is part of what makes More Space Place such a solid business model.
In 2013, coming out of the recession, the Corsos were met with another change. Closet & Storage Concepts acquired the entire More Space Place franchise system. Coming as they did from a business background, the merger brought some concerns for the Corsos about what the impact would be on their business.
They found their concerns were quickly alleviated. Sue says, “The company was very reassuring and communicated with us on an individual level. They listened to us when something wasn’t working and their response time is incredible.”
Sue goes on to say, “Closet & Storage Concepts made so many improvements. They immediately invested in infrastructure. As franchisees, we benefit greatly from their industry experience and brand visibility. They brought buying programs with vendor discounts, which allows us to pass on better pricing to our customers.”
Bob Lewis, CEO of Closet & Storage Concepts, adds, “We were able to bring a lot of new ideas and new best practices, specifically in the area of closet organizing systems. At the time of the acquisition, 80 percent of More Space Place’s business was in Murphy Beds and Home Office furnishings. Today sales are pretty much 50/50 between Closet Systems and Murphy Beds/Home Office, showing tremendous growth in the closet category. We were able to expand their product and offerings. A lot of investment went into equipment, technology and improving production times.”
One particular advantage the More Space Place franchisees found under Closet & Storage Concepts was the introduction of seven new textured finishes, bringing more up-to-date options with current trends. These new color styling options made them more competitive.
The support systems, which the Corsos feared might suffer, were only strengthened through the merger. Sue says, “When I wanted to capture more Jacksonville builder business, Closet & Storage Concepts was there to give me some great ideas and resources to help me with my business goals.”
Of the merger, Lewis says, “Both companies brought expertise and skills to the table, which both companies benefited from. The end result was that both organizations worked together for a successful merger. The benefits were reciprocal. These companies really are a good fit.”
And Lewis goes on to say, “The most valuable asset that Closet & Storage Concepts gained through this merger was the incredible network of existing More Space Place franchisees. The Corsos are a prime example. Sue and Pierre are wonderful franchise owners, and they are a pleasure to work with. They are focused on delivering excellent customer experiences and running the business successfully, which makes them among our best franchisees.”
By not making changes just for the sake of it and coming into the merger with a willingness to listen to each other, Closet & Storage Concepts and More Space Place have made a successful transition and positioned themselves as industry leaders in the home improvement and space-saving home furnishings industry. And their franchisees, like the Corsos, are reaping the benefits of a stronger franchisor.