Roark acquires home improvement installers

A nationwide network of home improvement installers has been acquired by Roark Capital Group, a private equity firm that owns some of the best-known restaurant franchises in the nation. Roark’s plans for The Home Service Store (HSS), which already provides installation services for Lumber Liquidators, Costco and BJ’s Wholesale Club, are equally ambitious; the Atlanta-based investment firm has put Robert Sheft, who helped develop Home Depot’s first foray into installed sales, in charge of its expansion plans.

Sheft now serves as group managing director at Roark, a position he has held since 2007. But in 1998, Sheft was CEO of RMA Home Services, a replacement windows and siding business that Home Depot hired to conduct a pilot with seven stores in North Carolina. Eventually the windows and siding installation became a nationwide program, and Home Depot bought the business from Sheft in 2003.

Sheft’s background in home improvement services will be instrumental in casting a wider net for HSS, which contracts primarily with national retailers. Relying on a network of independent contractors, it coordinates installation jobs for its partners with a system that calculates pricing, processes payments and manages the service. In some cases, HSS generates leads and sales. The Kennesaw, Ga.-based company, which facilitated more than 39,000 jobs in 2011, handles flooring installations for Lumber Liquidators, as well as other home improvement products for and BJ’s, including flooring, windows, siding and insulation.

“We’re more than network aggregators,” said Sheft, who believes that the current model, with some tweaking, can be used “across multiple channels.” One example might be a financial services firm that wants to offer home installation in tandem with some of its other products — or, perhaps, a manufacturer.

“We’re developing some front-end software that will put more discipline into the sales process,” Sheft explained. The HSS — which is retaining its original management team, led by Mark Ilderton — hopes to build on its national footprint. “We are offering a very attractive way to reach the customer,” said Sheft, who will serve as executive chairman.

Roark Capital owns approximately 21 franchise/multi-unit brands across 50 states, including Arby’s, Batteries Plus, Carvel Ice Cream, Cinnabon, Corner Bakery, Fast Signs, Il Fornaio and Schlotzsky’s. The firm has more than $2.7 billion of equity capital under management.

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