One of the first people I met when I entered the professional organizing world was Alex Modica. He is the owner of the ShelfGenie franchise in CT, and a business partner with the Connecticut chapter of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO). Alex is smart, reliable, on-time, creative and funny. It’s been a pleasure getting to know him, and being able connect him with some of my clients who have benefited from his services. I thought you might like a peek behind the curtain at what Alex does.
* * *
Tell me a little bit about what you do.
We design, make and install glide-out shelving systems. More importantly, everything we make is designed to work within a client’s existing cabinetry, so it is tailored made to the client’s needs and wants.
We always begin with an on-site consultation so we can get to know the client and the way he/she lives. We are trained to maximize storage potential and can work in any space, from closets to pantries to armoires. We can even make pullouts 5 feet deep if required for spaces under staircases. We do a lot of work in kitchens, but also are regularly called in for projects in bathrooms, offices, basement and garages.
During the consultation we design and present clients with a 3D design and a price. Our installations usually take one day, making it a very high impact, low hassle investment. All our pullouts are full extension (they can be pulled all the way out), hold up to 100lbs and come with a lifetime warranty for parts and labor. Who does that anymore?
I know how much you love your company, and I agree that the product is terrific. How did you get into this business?
I was in the apparel industry for 23 years, designing, sourcing and producing clothing for companies such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Brooks Brothers and Banana Republic. Then, 2008 came and I was downsized. I made a decision to reinvent and go out on my own. A franchise broker introduced me to ShelfGenie. I loved it the moment I saw it. It was a perfect fit for me. Not because I wanted to be in the home improvement business, but because it was a highly unique, customer centric, high quality solution for people. I love helping people.
This year will be our 10-year anniversary.
Congratulations on 10 years! What is your most popular item?
Pantries, whether hallway closets or cabinet pantries. These spaces hold lots of things, but the reality is that it is hard to reach the items in the back, and clients have admitted that they often have no idea what’s back there. Our custom solution allows the pantry to hold more items and make them easily accessible. Since the pullouts come out all the way, there is no need to leave extra space between the shelves for your hands.
Another popular solution is a cabinet with stiles (the vertical bar the sits between the doors in your cabinet). Those bars are such a hassle. Every time you need to reach in to get an item, you need to twist around the bar. We remove the bar and attach it to the door to make it a wide usable cabinet. We also have solutions for those lower, corner kitchen cabinets that are so difficult to access.
People can be anxious about investing in something like a closet system or glide-out shelving. As an organizer, I think the improved functionality makes it very attractive. Are there other benefits, such as improved resale value?
Having pullouts definitely presents the house in a better light, which helps it sell. Whoever does the cooking or has mobility issues will respond immediately to having pullouts.
We offer 3 product lines to fit clients’ budget. Investment in something like glide-outs or closet systems is comparable to painting a house. You won’t necessarily get every dollar back on the investment, but they are a high-end upgrade that people look for. Aside from resale, they pay rewards every day when you use them.
I’ve seen your work and agree that it makes a big difference. I’ve been surprised by what you can do. You even built a door to match my client’s existing kitchen cabinetry. What do you think would surprise people about the kinds of aftermarket solutions that are available today?
I think the biggest surprise is how flexible they can be. In my case, everything we do is custom. Solving storage challenges is all we focus on. As a result, we are a great alternative for someone who is not looking to undertake a large renovation process, but simply wants to modernize their space and make it more functional.
Besides glide-outs, we can build or modify a cabinet and build matching doors. Our team of designers and finish carpenters allow us to be super creative so that we can work within the client’s existing cabinets. I also have relationships with painters and countertop companies that I trust, so we can see the whole process through to the end. Clients are surprised at our capabilities. For example, we can remove an old trash compactor and replace it with glide-out shelving, garbage trays, divided tray storage, or whatever a client wants, and then build a new door to match existing cabinetry.
Do companies like yours charge potential clients to come look at their space and discuss options?
No, our design consultation is free and fun. No pressure tactics. A quality supplier will usually go to a client with no upfront payment required. We discuss all options during the consultation and leave clients with a 3D design and a proposal.
For the DIY-ers out there, what tips and/or cautions would you give?
Although home improvement looks easy on TV, it is often more complicated than you think. For instance, all our staff goes through a lot of training on how to design solutions. Nine out of ten times, DIY clients will not maximize their storage potential. It takes experience to know when you can do 3 pullouts and when you should only install two.
Also, beware of solutions whose price seems too good to be true. For instance, there are “off the shelf” alternatives to what we offer, but they can be of inferior quality, and they often end up bending under the weight of what the client wants to store.
Lastly, make sure you know what you are doing when it comes to installation, especially when you start drilling into your cabinets. As I like to say, I think I can do plumbing, but when I try, I usually end up spending the whole weekend buying supplies and working on the problem, and then after all my efforts, it still isn’t right. I’ve learned that I am better off to just hire a plumber, who fixes it properly and permanently in 2 hours.
What regions do you serve?
We serve NY (north of NYC) and Connecticut, but there are ShelfGenie franchises all over the US and in Canada.
How can my readers get more information?
They can go to our website at www.ShelfGenie.com/Connecticut and schedule an appointment or call me directly at 203-644-2052.
* * * * *
Have you installed glide-out shelving or another home storage solution? What was the most difficult part of the project? Are you happy with the result?