When your own mother is your first customer, you’d better have a lot of confidence in your products.
Charlie Robbins’ mom had difficulty reaching some of the pots and pans in her Fern Creek kitchen, and his career as a commercial real estate attorney didn’t give him the know-how to help her. But since opening Kentucky’s only ShelfGenie franchise, he has made her kitchen more functional and easier to work in.
“I was with a firm in Nashville for 18 years, but never really liked being an attorney. It paid the bills and allowed me to travel, which I did enjoy,” he said. “The recession that came in 2008 gave me a chance to get out. I left Nashville and spent over a year figuring out what I wanted to do next.”
He talked with franchise consultants and examined almost a dozen franchise concepts, from mobile drug testing to power washing.
“I wanted something that I believed in and had good people — a business I could get behind whole-heartedly,” he said. “After hearing about ShelfGenie, I went to the headquarters in Marietta (Georgia) and talked to them in person.”
ShelfGenie has approximately 51 franchisees around the country, with factories in Texas and California. It sells and installs custom shelving solutions for existing cabinets in order to create more space, easier access and better organization.
The company’s Glide-Out shelves hold up to 100 pounds, even when fully extended.
“They’re custom-made to the millimeter,” he said. “Kitchens, especially pantries, are the first place people think of putting them; but bathrooms, linen closets and even furniture are other possibilities. Anywhere there’s a drawer, we can put a Glide-Out shelf.”
Charlie purchased the franchise last September, took the required training, and opened for business on New Year’s Day.
“These shelves are great for people like my mother, who want to upgrade without tearing everything out and starting over,” he said. “And it isn’t just a question of convenience: people who have access issues — such as physical limitations and those who want to ‘age in place’ — appreciate the way the shelves roll out effortlessly and let them reach items without straining.”
Glide-Out shelves in multiple tiers make the most of under-sink space.
Even a “blind” corner cabinet can be turned into an easy-to-reach storage area by means of a pair of perpendicular shelves — when the front shelf rolls outward, the one around the corner can slide sideways, bringing pots into view.
“We’ve already done three home shows. At the one in January, a lady said, ‘I always have to send my three-year-old back in there to get things.’ But they don’t stay little forever. When I told that to a man at the February show, he laughed and said, ‘That’s why we keep having kids,’ ” Charlie said. “Well, this is a more economical solution for accessing those kinds of corners.”
The sides of ShelfGenie shelves can slope upward to ensure that tall items won’t tip over. The company also manufactures accessories such as spice racks, file boxes, towel bars and drawer dividers.
“Business has been unbelievably good. I’ve already exceeded my initial projections, with calls from people in southern Indiana as well as Kentucky.
March 20 will be the 80th day since we opened, and our 100th appointment is already set for that day,” he said. “I’m planning to move to a bungalow in St. Matthews. And when I find the right one, I know what my first home improvement project will be.”
For more information about ShelfGenie, phone Charlie Robbins at 502.794.0794 or visit www.shelfgenie.com.