Four Seasons Grows with Addition of Struggling Dealers

February 3, 2009
Companies

Four Seasons Sunrooms reports it is growing, due in part to the fact that it has "extended a lifeline" to a number of its existing dealers that have been struggling in the current market. By acquiring a number of those businesses, the Holbrook, N.Y.-based manufacturer has expanded its own network of company-owned retail operations, and created a situation where "everyone is a winner," states Peter Allen, VP commercial.

Less than a year ago, Four Seasons owned eight dealer operations serving five states. With the recent additions, it now owns 14 operations in eight states, reports Shaun Kennedy, CEO of Four Seasons' retail business. It expects to increase the total to 20 operations in the near future, he adds.

The recent acquisitions have helped the owners of the dealers it has acquired, because some may have had to close their doors completely, states Kennedy. As part of the Four Seasons' team, he adds, the individuals involved are now able to make more money than they could on their own. On the other side, Four Seasons gets the benefit of “top talent,” as well as opportunities to expand more aggressively in some markets.

Most home improvement dealers are “left-handed or right-handed,” Kennedy notes. They are typically very good on the sales and marketing side of the business or very good on the operations side. It is rare when they are very good at both aspects of the business. “In the current environment, any weaknesses can bring a business down. Companies need to strong in all areas to succeed,” he continues. “We have an infrastructure and systems in place to enable these operations to succeed.”

Those systems, particularly in the marketing end of the business, have enabled Four Season to grow its orders and sales even as the economy has faltered. Those gains come not only from its new company-owned stores, but from existing stores, Kennedy points out, attributing the growth to a number of aggressive marketing initiatives that enable the firm to continue to generate leads and sales.

In addition to sunrooms and other products, the company has also started aggressive efforts to promote its replacement window line, contributing to its recent gains as well.

Four Seasons has benefited significantly from the knowledge gained by its British owner, the Latium Group, one of the largest home improvement companies in Great Britain with annual sales of  about $750 million in a $12 billion market, Allen notes. It also has ambitions to become as large a force in the North American home improvement market as it is at home. “These are challenging times, but they present a great opportunity to put ourselves in a strong position for the future,” he continues.

Those ambitions don’t include bringing all its existing and franchise operations directly under the Four Seasons umbrella, Sean points out. “The market is huge, and we see plenty of room for both our franchises and our company-owned stores.” Four Seasons remains committed to helping those businesses grow, he adds, and many continue to do so.