Business

Home Town Restyling credits showroom with boosted sales

'My dad was a carpenter'

Home Town Restyling installer Dan Thomas measures drywall while working at a bathroom remodel in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, March 5, 2019. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Home Town Restyling installer Dan Thomas measures drywall while working at a bathroom remodel in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, March 5, 2019. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
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Wayne Winn had a vision when he launched Home Town Restyling in December 1985.

“We wanted to be different than the normal home-improvement company,” he said. “Most of them work out of their house, or a pickup truck and a rented garage.”

Winn did rent a shop in Hiawatha for seven years before building Home Town’s showroom and office building. The business moved there in 1993.

The large showroom’s displays of new windows, doors, cupboards, countertops, sunrooms and other features fit Wynn’s vision — and boosted sales.

“If people are going to spend a lot of money on it, they want to know that there’s actually some brick and mortar,” he said. “That’s what this building represented to us.

“When we moved in here our business doubled, just because of the showroom.”

Wynn’s hands-on experience began while growing up on near Walker.

“I was a farm kid,” he said. “My dad was a carpenter, so I worked with him ever since I was old enough to work.”

Graduating North Linn High School, he recalled, “I thought about going to college and I wasn’t sure what I was going to go for, so I went to work.”

Construction jobs kept him busy until the early 1980s economic slowdown.

“I answered an ad for a sales job,” he said. “They’d say they couldn’t hire me because of my (lack of) experience, so I kind of begged my way into the door and they gave me an opportunity.”

Winn took to the work selling replacement doors and windows in four Midwestern states.

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“We had 100 sales people on the street and in the first year I was in the top 10,” he said. “So then I went into the management program.”

That led to managerial positions in Minneapolis and Springfield, Ill. Winn returned to Iowa after new owners bought the company in 1985.

“The new people changed the way we were doing business,” he said. “The consumer was no longer No. 1, or the employee, and I just became disgruntled. I said, ‘This is not the way I grew up,’ and things needed to change.”

Taking a cue from his previous employer, Winn started with telemarketing.

“We started calling people and giving them free estimates,” he said. “Once I got a backlog of jobs sold, one of the gentlemen that worked with me at the old company called me up. He didn’t like it anymore, so he came to work with me as my installation man.

“That was almost 33 years and he’s still here.”

That installer was the first of what are now 53 employees. Winn hires subcontractors only for plumbing and electrical work.

“Most people in this industry, they use subcontractors for their installation. Our people are employees,” he said.

“We don’t have a lot of turnover, because we offer health insurance, paid vacations, paid holidays, 401(k).”

Most Home Town customers live within about 90 minutes of its Hiawatha headquarters. The company’s website has replaced the cold-call approach.

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“The customers are more knowledgeable because of the internet,” Winn said. “So consumers have a lot of ideas, and the products have gotten a lot better. There’s more competition from a manufacturing standpoint.”

After a showroom visit, a designer, project manager or sales person usually meets customers at their home, followed by another consultation “to get everyone back together and start looking at the budgeting process and the whole picture.”

Home Town staff handles all permitting for a project.

Given the backlog and the weather, it can take a bit longer to reach Winn’s goal, but his staff usually does.

“A homeowner comes home at night and they’re smiling and happy and they like what we do,” he said.

l Know a business that could make for an interesting “My Biz”? Tell us about it by emailing michaelchevy.castranova@thegazette.com.

AT A GLANCE

• Owner: Wayne Winn

• Business: Home Town Restyling

• Address: 1205 N. Center Point Rd., Hiawatha

• Phone: (319) 378-1221

• Website: hometownrestyling.com

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