HENDERSON, Nevada—Hundreds of home improvement pros traveled to Las Vegas last week to participate in the 7th annual TOP 500 LIVE conference. They were drawn by the expertise of 23 speakers from around the home improvement sector, and the chance to hear from and meet with leaders of the industry’s biggest firms, attendees said at the conclusion of the two-day event.
“This was certainly the largest of our gatherings and we expect it to grow larger next year when it returns to Las Vegas for a second consecutive year,” said Patrick O’Toole, co-owner of SOLA Group Inc., which hosts the event under its Qualified Remodeler media brand. “Our annual TOP 500 list, which was published for the 45th time in August, ranks remodelers of all types. This TOP 500 event, however, has become a favorite of the home improvement segment, in particular. The content is laser focused on lead generation, sales leadership, and entrepreneurship. All are highly relevant to the day-to-day operation of fast-growing specialty contractors.”
In addition to offering actionable ideas for operating home services businesses more profitably, the event was a platform for giants like Renovo, Leaf Home, Great Day Improvements, and Infinity Home Services. The leadership of each of those companies shared their progress on growing to be truly national companies operating coast-to-coast. A recent infusion of capital into the industry from firms like York Capital (Renuity), Gridiron Capital (Leaf Home), Audax (Renovo) among others has super-charged growth at the very top of the industry. And as a group, their strategies and decisions are being closely followed by many.
Speeches by Jon Bostock (CEO) and Chris Counahan (CSO) of Leaf Home were followed in quick succession by presentations by John Dupuy, CEO of Renovo; Ed Weinfurtner (Executive Chairman) and Michael Hoy (CEO) of Great Day Improvements, as well as Josh Sparks, CEO of Infinity Home Services and Jason Couto of Couto Construction, an Infinity Home Services company.
“We’ve been to every TOP 500 LIVE since the first one [in 2017] at BWI airport,” said Jeff Gunhus, co-founder and CEO of Home Genius Exteriors of Hayttsville, Maryland, which was ranked No. 66 on the list with $35.1 million in revenue on 1,900 jobs last year. “It’s become a rock in our strategic calendar each year. Our fiscal year ends October 31st, so TOP 500 always lends itself to finalizing our strategic plan for the upcoming year. Despite some headwinds for the industry described by some of the speakers, we’re confident HGE is well-prepared and positioned for a tremendous 2024.”
Gunhus said the company has ambitious plans to grow to $60 million in revenue next year with the launch of a division in Mexico.
The conference also came at a time of change in the market. Leads are much more expensive today while costs for labor and materials remain elevated and are rising in some cases. Former company owners and management experts speaking at the event focused on best practices for planning, budgeting, and forecasting to maintain healthy profit margins.
The leaders of the largest independent home improvement contractors in the nation, Lindus Construction, also presented at the conference. Co-founder Emily Lindus along with CEO Andy Lindus, explained how the firm bootstrapped its way to the No. 56 spot on the TOP 500 list, billing $43.2 million on 3,992 jobs in 2022. The company scaled up significantly when it implemented a selling system 18 years ago with the help of Rodney Webb. The company also created pathways to ownership for top employees, by helping them open their own gutter protection businesses in different territories around the Midwest. Emily Lindus, who founded the company with her husband Kevin in 1981, is now a consultant in the industry with 25/8 Leadership Training and Coaching. In addition to her main-stage session, Lindus presented breakout sessions on recruiting and HR compliance.
Bob Quillen, founder of Quillen Brothers Windows and owner of P&L Coach laid out a step-by-step process for consistently achieving 20 percent net profit. Brian Kaskavalcyian of The Wealthy Contractor suggested a method for “beginning with the end in mind” and planning backward. At the same time Charlie Gindele, founder of Renewal by Andersen of Orange County offered a pragmatic approach to planning and executing a successful year, with an emphasis on budgeting and forecasting. He also emphasized the importance of “getting the right people on the bus”, a reference to the influential business book Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t, by Jim Collins.
Day Two began with a block of content that is certainly on the minds of most remodelers and home improvement pros: how to be more efficient with leads. Tony Hoty and Megan Beattie of Tony Hoty Consulting offered a two-part presentation on lead handling and lead conversion. This was followed by a presentation by John Pohl an experienced call-center manager and operator of Springs Connect. Together they offered a number of ideas to help remodelers make the most of increasingly valuable leads and inquiries.
A Community of Ideas and Solutions
Fifty-six companies sponsored TOP 500 LIVE, creating an energetic atmosphere not only for peer-to-peer networking but also for learning about the latest products, technology and software that are advancing the industry in many ways. The sponsor area was the venue for two networking receptions, two breakfast gatherings and two hour-long lunch receptions. Separate evening events, one at the Las Vegas Golden Knights game, and one at a night club with industry disc jockeys and MCs added to the overall atmosphere of networking and energy.
Celebrities from the world of sports made appearances at the event. Pro golfer Mark O’Meara was the special guest of Ally Lending at a networking reception they hosted at the conclusion of Day One. O’Meara brought his Claret Jug from winning the British Open as well as his Master’s Championship trophy.
Kelly McCrimmon, general manager of the Stanley Cup Champion Vegas Golden Knights, was the keynote speaker for the event. He brought along his director of player personnel, as well as the team’s top broadcaster. The clear correlation between success in professional sports and success in business offered attendees the opportunity to gain insights into leadership, organizational alignment, and commitment to excellence.
It was announced that TOP 500 LIVE 2024 will be held Oct. 28 – 30, 2024 at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. Separately it was also announced that Qualified Remodeler‘s software and technology conference FAST Remodeler Live will be held May 14-15, 2024 at the Hilton Austin. FAST is an acronym for Focused on Agile Systems and Technology. The event operates on two tracks, one focused on solutions for home improvement and replacement contractors, the other offering solutions for full-service and design-build contractors. Early-bird registration for the event will open in December.
In addition to software solutions for all aspects of running remodeling businesses, FAST Remodeler Live will incorporate thought leadership on current and future solutions offering the benefits or artificial intelligence, AI, into the systems and processes of remodeling firms. QR