PremierGarage has enjoyed extensive growth over its three years of existence, and a new production plant ensures that future growth will be taken in stride.

In late May, when Mark Loberg submitted his company, PremierGarage Systems, for the 17th annual WOOD 100 list, he noted that 76 PremierGarage franchises could be found in North America (in 41 U.S. states and 3 Canadian provinces). Only three short months later, when doing his interview for Wood & Wood Products, Loberg was pleased to announce that four more franchises had been added, covering one more state. This kind of growth, Loberg says, is really a testament to the product and manufacturing process that his company has created over the past three years.

Loberg operates PremierGarage Systems out of Phoenix, AZ, which also happens to be the site of the company’s second and newest production facility — the first is located in Atlanta. From those two sites, PremierGarage Systems manufactures cabinetry, storage solutions and other products specifically tailored for what Loberg calls an “often overlooked space in your home with endless potential for beauty and utility” — the garage.

In 1999, Loberg saw an opportunity in the garage market, a niche that he says seemed poorly covered in Phoenix. He left his 20-year career in automotive dealership operations and set out to target the high-end homeowners who were in search of a better garage.

“I didn’t see anybody who was fulfilling that niche in the way that I thought it could be fulfilled,” Loberg says. “And that was by focusing on a higher-quality product that was professionally presented and installed.”

Loberg’s competitors back in the beginning were creating cabinets by stapling together 5⁄8-inch board, he says. It seemed obvious to him that better materials could create a garage product for the more discerning client. So, Loberg began outsourcing his cabinet orders to local craftsmen, and focused his attention on sales and installation. It wasn’t until 11⁄2 years later that Loberg decided to skip the middleman and begin manufacturing products himself.

And the rest, as they say, is history. With the help of some business driven from the Internet, not to mention the booming home storage industry, Loberg began creating what would end up today being a $12-million-a-year business, with franchises scattered across the continent.

“As we established an Internet presence, like every other company was doing in 1999, we started getting more inquiries from people who saw our Web site, saw the concept, thought it was a cool business and wondered how they could get into it,” Loberg says. “We turned away a lot of people for about a year, before we finally decided that we needed a way to package the business and offer it to other people.”

The first franchise opened up in South Carolina in 2003, and the interest in the business model has grown constantly for the past three years. The interest has been so strong, in fact, that Loberg decided to add a second production facility — the 57,000-square-foot plant in Phoenix — to help keep up with the needs of the franchises. Keeping the company’s production methods on par with changing technology has always been an important focus for Loberg.

“From the very first day that we went into manufacturing our own product back in 2001, we never started out with hand-boring machines and table saws and things like that,” Loberg says. “We’ve been using large beam saws and CNC machines since our inception. We never started out as grandpa’s cabinet shop and then evolved into more automated, more computer-controlled equipment. We started that way.”

And the plan is most definitely to stay that way, Loberg adds. Not only does CNC machining help create a more efficient production flow, it also ensures the consistency between products coming from either manufacturing facility, he says.

“That is the beauty of having everything done by a CNC. It doesn’t matter where it is, or what time it is, the technology will still make the same part,” Loberg says.

Updating equipment has been necessary, even after just a few years in business. Each production plant recently added a conveyor system to transport parts between different sections of the work cells. Loberg has also been in close contact with Biesse, PremierGarage’s main equipment supplier, working to anticipate the next round of technology upgrades.

PremierGarage Systems provides storage and

flooring solutions for the garage. Mark Loberg, founder and CEO, says that the garage may be one of the most neglected rooms in the house.
Efficient manufacturing and shipping methods have been two keys for success for PremierGarage, says Mark Loberg, founder and CEO.

“We’ve already had some discussions with Biesse about our next phase of growth that would move us into more automation and into double-sided edgebanding, and would also move us into throughfeed CNC, rather than the traditional platform or table-type CNC,” Loberg says.

Efficient shipping is another of Loberg’s keys to success, he says. Once cabinet components and other products are finished, they are shipped out to the franchises following the company’s Scheduled Route System (SRS) — a plan in which each franchise receives a replenishment of product every three weeks. This allows trucks to visit up to six different franchises in one route, maximizing the company’s shipping time and cost.

“Just like you can depend on the mailman to come to your house every day, our franchisee can depend on the big truck from PremierGarage to show up every three weeks at its location with another load of inventory to be put on the shelves,” Loberg says. “We have other franchises that have grown larger and the size and volume of their orders have grown to the point where we’ll send one truck straight to them.”

So, with the pieces of the puzzle in place, new franchises being added at a furious pace, and new technology helping supply PremierGarage’s growing demand, Loberg’s business model appears to be working to perfection. In fact, the only questions that PremierGarage currently faces are how much to grow, and how soon?

“We always have a lot on our plate, and we obviously have projections for how we expect our network of franchises to grow,” Loberg says. “It’s our job as the franchisor, and manufacturer/distributor, to do what we have to do in terms of facilities, equipment and personnel and all the other support services that we offer to maintain step with the franchisee growth. We’re one place, doing it in step with these 80 entities that are growing and growing all the time.”

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