Interview With A Shelf Genie

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?

kitchen cabinet with glide out shelves

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.

Pantry Installation

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?

32 thoughts on “Interview With A Shelf Genie”

    1. This is a great product that makes you smile every time you open your kitchen cabinet:) Just fun to see what can be done even if you don’t want to do a big renovation. It can be hard to find someone to do smaller jobs, so a nice resource to know about.

  1. I love the ShelfGenie solutions and products! I’ve seen them in many of my clients’ homes and love how the pullout shelves transform their cabinet spaces. The photos you shared are terrific. I like the pullout to hold trays and baking pans. Nice! I also didn’t realize that you could remove a stile and retrofit the space with pullouts. That’s such a great idea and makes the space more useable.

    I’m glad to have you as a resource when and if the need arises.
    Linda Samuels recently posted…How to Use Two Simple Concepts That Will Improve Your Perspective About NextMy Profile

    1. I like being able to refer people that I know are going to treat my customers well and do a good job. It’s amazing what Alex’s team can do. I love the little shallow pull-out he can install in a tall cabinet. That extra bit of space can be so handy:)

    1. Same for me… the product is high quality and does make such a huge difference, especially in places like the kitchen or bathroom where you use the space every day. Glad to know you’ve had an equally positive experience!

  2. I wish they served NJ because my parents need ShelfGenie! However, my in-laws have a house in CT they might be selling.. so who knows?
    I love the stile! I didn’t know that had a name. This reminded me of when we moved into this house and realized we had no pantry. And yet the bathroom had a linen closet in it (a large one too) and there was another linen closet (as they were calling it) in the hallway and I said, “That should be a food pantry!” And it was and is, but still has the shelving meant for linens.

    1. I’ve turned a lot of closets into pantries. I don’t know why people design kitchens without pantries because they are so handy. This is a really nice way to get the most out of your space. They might be ShelfGenies in NJ. If you go to ShelfGenie.com you can search locations.

    1. I think they offer a nice product, and unlike other contractors, they will work on small projects. So often we just need a couple of cabinets or a closet done, not the whole kitchen or the whole house.

  3. Pullouts are the best. Full-extension pullouts? Be still my heart! Today I learned what a ‘stile’ is. Never could have imagined that that piece of wood that separates two cabinets had a name. Sounds like a sniglet…Great comprehensive interview–NAPO-CT is lucky to have Shelf Genie as one of their business partners.

    1. We are lucky to have ShelfGenie as a business partner, not only because of their complimentary product offering, but also because Alex is such a great guy. He has been a part of all of our chapter initiatives. He is a real “team player.”

  4. What a great resource as a Professional Organizer. I know we have them here in London, Ontario. I had to laugh at the image of the diy model. So true. If you can hire someone you save a lot of frustration and time. I love the images and see how they would make such an improvement.

    1. I have learned to “know my limits” when it comes to DIY. Some projects I can do, but others are best left to a professional. I can also affirm Alex’s caution when you start drilling into kitchen cabinets. My husband tried to hang a hook for me on the back of my new cabinet door and promptly put a hole in it.

  5. This is a great look at what Shelf Genie has to offer. I have seen these in some of my clients homes. The glide out shelving system makes good use of all space, and makes everything so much more accessible.

    1. I totally agree, Nancy. Quality glide-outs make everything so much more accessible, and since they pull out all the way, you don’t need as much space to peek in, meaning you can add more shelves!

    1. I will never drill into my kitchen cabinets:) Alex’s team does beautiful work, and I agree that it really does make all the difference. It can be hard to find a company to come in and do small projects, so I think this resource is a treasure!

    1. I love reading about this positive experience! It really makes all the difference. I too have spent my fair share of time crawling into and around the corner of kitchen cabinets – not fun!

  6. I was definitely positively impressed when I saw there were pull out drawers in all the cabinets of the house we now live in. I have a bad back and getting things out of the back of a lower cabinet is extremely difficult. The pull out shelves definitely make my life more pleasant. I had work done in y closets too and now can accommodate a lot more things with easy access. It’s worth the investment because you have the joy of using it every day.

    1. I completely agree that having pull out drawers makes all the difference when you have back trouble. Trying to reach into the back of cabinets and lift things out can be hard when bending is a struggle. I’m so glad you have this option in your current home:)

    1. I completely agree that being able to pull out the drawers makes a big difference when you have back trouble. Bending over and trying to get things out of the back of a cabinet is not easy! I’m so glad you have this solution in place in your current home:)

    2. Making the spaces you use every day be accessible and easy to access really makes a difference! I’ve been impressed by what can be done, and I think it is the kind of investment that makes you feel good over and over:)

Leave a Reply to Seana Cancel Reply

Your email address will not be published.

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.