Sir Grout Capitalizes on Rehabbing Home Surfaces
Today, most houses come with high-end tile, countertops and wood flooring, but most people don’t know how to properly maintain such materials. You may try some old standbys—bleach, ammonia and vinegar—before becoming exasperated and calling in a professional. That’s where Sir Grout comes in, a 38-unit chain based in Alpharetta, Georgia, that’s growing quickly as more homes come with nicer, more expensive and, ultimately, harder to maintain materials that are immune to the trend of DIY.
Founded by two long-time friends who stumbled upon the wonders of steam cleaning, and also purchased a proprietary chemical that cleans, re-colors and seals the grout between tiles, co-presidents Jeff Gill and Tom Lindberg are seeing significant growth as the American housing market remains red hot in recent years.
“This business did really well and grew very steadily in a horrible economy, and I always said to Tom, ‘One day we’ll have this business in a good economy,’” Gill said. With the housing market showing significant gains in most cities across the country, that good economy is finally here, and Sir Grout is on a tear.
Currently, most of its units are located along the East Coast, with additional locations in Georgia, Illinois, Arizona, Colorado and Missouri.
However the housing market turns in the future—steady, upward or down—Gill and Lindberg are confident the business can handle any climate as homeowners look to resurface tile, marble, repair grout or spruce up hardwood floors at a much lower cost than replacing those surfaces with new materials.
“There’s no city, town or country that escapes the natural fact that hard surfaces either become abraded through foot traffic or dirty mop water,” Gill said. “That’s the beauty of this business, we’re not constrained geographically at all.”
As Sir Grout has grown, its founders are looking to create what may eventually be a spinoff company called Re-style Your Tile that uses thin veneers to install high-end materials (think marble or tile) over aged, discolored tile that’s present in bathrooms in all but the newest houses.
“It enables us to do a very high-end restoration of a shower or bathroom in one to two days without a mess and without demolition,” Gill added.
As many economists and analysts sound cautionary alarms that we may be at the top of the current cycle, a business that produces tangible goods that’s relatively recession proof looks to be an interesting bet—and one we’ll be covering in greater depth in a future issue of Franchise Times.
In the meantime, it’s probably good advice to read the owner’s manual or do your research before busting out that jug of bleach.