Epcon Franchising Q&A with Dave Labus
Dave Labus and his partner, Carl Fankhauser, find their niche selling beautiful, freestanding courtyard-style homes in West Chester, Ohio.
Dave Labus and Carl Fankhauser, who hail respectively from the worlds of architecture and design, get to scratch their creative itches while personalizing beautiful, courtyard-style homes in the suburb of West Chester just outside of Cincinnati, Ohio. Dave says he really enjoys getting clients “from A to Z” and watching the surprise and pleasure on customers’ faces when he hands them the keys to their dream homes.
How long have you been with the Epcon home building franchise, and what were you doing before?
I think we have been active now for eight or nine years. Before, I was designing retail stores. There are definitely some parallels between that and Epcon — going out and repeating things according to a system. We’re in West Chester, which is suburb of Cincinnati. Currently, we are working on expansion of the Villas at Park Place. We are also putting together a couple of new communities in the area.
What made you decide to change careers?
I had been in the architecture industry working through an architectural consulting firm. Then I went to the ownership side, to corporate America. I had done that for quite some time, and then I was ready for a change. I wanted something that I could call my own.
Listen to Dave’s Story
What do you think someone needs to succeed as an Epcon Franchise Builder?
You have to be well-capitalized, and I think it takes someone who has entrepreneurial drive to really take ownership of it. The things we see across the network of Franchise Builders in the whole Epcon Communities family — the ones that succeed embrace the system and appreciate the niche in the market that Epcon has created and then expand on it. The other part of the equation is that they take full ownership of it. Take everything that they give you, and take real ownership of it — like you would any other business venture.
How large do you think the opportunity for growth is at Epcon?
If you have access to capital and you can put together a good team, then it’s very easy to scale the business. There are those who do Epcon Communities one at a time — they finish it, and then they start another opportunity. And then there’s those who want to grow this into a larger company and maintain maybe two to three communities at one time. I think both options work. They do take different skill sets, I believe. With one community at a time, you will have fewer employees or associates. You will be doing most of the work yourself. If you are managing two or three or four communities at a time, you will have a little bit more of an organization. We think building multiple communities is the best strategy for us. We spin a lot of plates for sure.
If you have a typical day what does that day look like?
I don’t really have a typical day because I wear so many different hats. I decide whether I want the day to be a sales day or a construction day or a vendor day — or do I get to take a day off? That is just my personality, and that is probably part of what I enjoy about this.
What other things do you like about the business?
Interacting with customers. We enjoy the idea of getting someone from A through Z. They walk in our door; they know that they are thinking about downsizing and looking at a new home. A home is a very personal purchase — it’s not a hamburger. It’s very different. We are doing homes that are very personalized, so it’s about how we get them through that whole process. I think for many people these are their dream homes, so moving them into the home, watching them go through that, watching it change their lives in a positive way — I enjoy the reward of that. And somewhere in there you have learned how to make money.
What is something that you have learned from the whole experience?
You have a sense of freedom that you are in control of your destiny, more so than when you’re working for a larger company. We have just come around over the past two years from the recession, and I think our model weathered the recession better than other building communities. We are reaping the rewards of all the hard work we put in through the rough times of the recession.
Do you feel well-poised for greater success now?
Yes. We’ve had a lot of practice honing our craft, and I think because of the courtyard home and the time we’ve put into developing it, we have really found a niche. I think we’re building a much more detail-oriented home, not just something cookie-cutter or off-the-shelf.
How would you describe the support the Epcon home building franchise provides?
There is as much support available as you need. I have, over the years, interacted with a lot of Franchise Builders, and this is definitely a system where you get out of it what you put into it. There is information available, but you have to be willing to take time and effort to learn what is available, to find out who you are and where you want to take this. You do have to make this work for you.
Would you recommend an Epcon home building franchise to someone?
I would. I think for the right person it’s really fantastic. For the people who are in this for the right reasons, it can be a really rewarding experience.
Epcon is one of the only home building franchise companies in the United States and is one of America’s largest homebuilders (Builder Magazine’s 2013 Builder 100 list).Epcon and its Franchise Builders develop maintenance-free communities popular with 55+ buyers — a demographic that is expected to drive home sales for several decades. For in-depth details about the Epcon franchise opportunity, download our free franchise report. You can also learn more by visiting our research pages.