TreeHouse’s bold plan to dominate a $200 billion industry

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Home improvement is intimidating. I have accepted that I am not a particularly handy person. I am not a good designer. But even though I want professional assistance, I often don’t know who to call. I’m not alone.

As TreeHouse Chairman and CEO Gary Kusin explains, the home remodeling and renovation space has two segments: the “do-it-yourself” segment, which is dominated by national hardware retailers, and the “do-it-for-me” segment, which is fragmented across countless local professionals and small contractors — usually found by asking your neighbors if anyone has a good “tile guy” or some version of that question. This second half of the industry is worth over $200 billion annually; Kusin is on a mission to transform the home improvement industry and emerge as a market leader.

On this episode of Retail Gets Real, Kusin describes how TreeHouse sets itself apart from the home improvement leaders and how his vision to scale nationally is coming to life.

TreeHouse’s business concept is simple: one company that can help homeowners through the entire journey from ideation to installation as they upgrade their homes. TreeHouse also only uses sustainably constructed building materials and products that will make an individual’s home safer, healthier or smarter.

Gary Kusin (left) chats with host Sarah Rand (right)

Gary Kusin (left) chats with host Sarah Rand (right)

“People come to us for ‘do-it-for-me,’” Kusin says, “but when they learn about the sustainable characteristics of our products, it makes them feel even better.”

Instead of finding a designer, electrician, plumber and general contractor, homeowners can just walk into a TreeHouse location and share their ideas — a home advisor greets them at the door and experienced consultants and designers will turn those ideas into reality. “The proof is in the pudding,” Kusin says. “Over 50 percent of the projects we do are second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth projects for the same homeowners.”

TreeHouse store interior display

TreeHouse store interior display

Kusin has a background in building companies. He co-founded Babbage’s (now GameStop) and Laura Mercier Cosmetics and was formerly president and CEO of Kinko’s, overseeing its sale to FedEx. He spent the last 12 years in private equity; before becoming CEO, he was an investor in TreeHouse. “I’ve spent my career starting things, growing things, selling things, and I had little to no interest in ever doing it again. [TreeHouse] brought me off the beach,” Kusin says.

Listen to the episode to learn more about why Kusin thinks TreeHouse “may be the biggest retail concept I’ve seen in my lifetime.”

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Jen Overstreet is a co-host on NRF’s Retail Gets Real podcast. Meet all the co-hosts and learn more about the show.