It is often convenient to view home improvement firms as all being cut from the same cloth. Nothing can be further from the truth. Take the two biggest companies on this year’s Exterior 200 list – Window World and Power Home Remodeling.

Window World turned the industry on its ear 20 years ago when Leon Whitworth and his son Todd Whitworth began selling windows out of a single location in North Wilkesboro, N.C. Until that point, most window sales operations tried to obtain the highest price per window that they could get — $700, $800 up to $1,200 and opening, by only revealing the price at the end of a customer meeting. Today, more than 200 Window World dealers often achieve those same target prices per opening, but they do so by starting low, $189 for a basic single hung. By giving a basic price upfront, Window World takes tension out of the sales process. Clients are quickly put at ease to pick the features they want — divided lites, low-e glass, etc. — to ultimately get to a price-product combination agreeable to all.

Window World is naturally a strong marketer. The $189 message is everywhere on billboards, on radio, on television, and the Internet, among other venues. The result for our No. 1 Exterior 200 company was 146,000 jobs sold on $463.9 million in revenue last year. 

On the flipside, Power Home Remodeling of Chester, Pa., employs a more traditional, professional-sales-organization approach to achieve its hugely dynamic growth in recent years. In markets around the Northeast and Midwest, Power drives an astonishing 44 percent of its leads for new business via good, old-fashioned canvassing. This is quite a feat considering the firm sold more than 25,000 jobs last year on $242.6 million in revenue. 

Indeed, no single home improvement company is exactly like another. Each has its own secret sauce, a mix of lead sources with a variety of marketing messages, all sold with differing methods. That is why the Exterior 200 continues to fascinate. It is a compilation of the biggest specialty / replacement firms from around the country, all with a different blend of jobs. While windows, siding and roofing is the most common combination, — thus the Exterior moniker — there are many Exterior 200 firms who offer interior solutions, cabinet refacing, replacement bathrooms, basement sealing, etc. 

Our columnist Dave Yoho likes to put categorize remodeling companies in two groups – those who make a market and those who take a market. By and large, the Exterior 200 is composed of make marketers. They spend about 10 percent of their top-line sales to drive leads for new business. There are thousands of make marketers beyond these 200, but suffice to say they have an outsized contribution to the industry’s bandwidth. Numbers posted by Exterior 200 this time total $3.2 billion in gross sales on 605,761 jobs. Given that there are approximately 130 million households in the United States, the impact, the engagement, the innovation and the opportunity coming out of this sector of the remodeling market is noteworthy.

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