Over the past 13 years since its founding, Great Day Improvements LLC has quickly grown toward its vision of becoming one of the largest home improvement companies in the U.S.
With familiar brands like Patio Enclosures, Stanek Windows, Champion Windows and Universal Windows Direct under its umbrella, Great Day is dominating the remodeling space. As this brand portfolio has expanded through acquisitions as well as greenfield developments, Great Day has steadily scaled into new markets and remodeling services.
“We’re the only company I’m aware of that has scaled in our space this quickly from a greenfield perspective [while also growing through acquisitions],” says Great Day CEO Michael Hoy. “We don’t go into any of these markets and say, ‘We just want to grow 5, 10, or 15 percent.’ We think that’s somewhat narrow-minded. We’ve been successful because we ask, ‘[How much] can we get?’ and then we go into the market and get it.”
Now with eight brands and more than 170 locations in more than 90 markets, Great Day ranks as the fifth-largest home remodeling company in the country. The company surpassed $1 billion in 2022 revenue and expects to reach $1.25 billion this year.
Here’s how Hoy manages this rapid growth by rallying his team of nearly 2,700 employees around his vision.
Great Day’s growth began with the 2011 acquisition of Patio Enclosures, a sunroom brand dating back to 1966, which had 10 locations at the time. Stanek Windows, a Cleveland brand with three locations, joined the business through another acquisition a few years later.
To keep growing beyond the first acquisitions and a dozen or so locations, the organization needed to get the right people and processes in place. Enter Ed Weinfurtner, who acquired Great Day in 2014 and became executive chairman, and Hoy, who joined the company as CEO the following year, who bring decades of combined experience in the direct-to-consumer home improvement industry. By 2016, they had centralized most of the backend business functions, like marketing and accounting, to create a regional sales and operating model to supercharge the company’s growth.
Great Day put this new model to the test by opening four new locations in contiguous markets in 2018. Then, its leaders set their sights on national growth.
“We recognized that our model worked well, no matter how many locations we were opening,” Hoy says. “That was when we did our first acquisition outside of Ohio, which was Hartshorn Custom Contracting in Florida.”
With a foothold in a new corner of the country, Great Day continued to grow organically. The company opened nine new greenfield locations in 2019, “primarily in the southern part of the country, where we didn’t have a presence,” Hoy says.
Then, COVID-19 mandates sequestered people in their homes, prompting a pandemic remodeling boom as homeowners reinvested in their living spaces. Great Day “got even more aggressive” in its growth strategy, Hoy says, opening 16 new greenfield locations in 2020, primarily throughout the south and southwest. That year, Great Day also acquired Apex Energy Solutions (which had 19 locations at the time, including 12 franchises) and its technology partner, Touchstone Media Group, which provided a robust tech-enabled sales and marketing platform to fuel ongoing growth.
This aggressive growth streak hasn’t slowed down. In 2021, Great Day opened 13 new greenfield locations and made two acquisitions — adding Universal Windows Direct and Champion Windows to the portfolio, more than doubling the size of the business within 30 days. Around that same time, the company also entered the bathroom remodeling space by acquiring The Bath Authority in Cleveland.
“The goal was to build a national platform on the name of Patio Enclosures, which is arguably the hardest fulfillment component because most companies don’t do sunrooms,” Hoy says. “We wanted to build around that business and scale on top of it with other D-to-C home improvements like window and door replacements and now baths, which are easier installs.”
The best part about Great Day’s portfolio, Hoy says, is that the brands under its umbrella can coexist in each market without cannibalizing each other.
“The consumer sees each one of these brands with a different perception,” he says. “We learned that [our brands rarely] run into each other.”
Last year, Great Day opened 21 new greenfield locations and acquired Your Home Improvement Company in Minnesota, making a strategic entrance into the northern part of the country. Within the first four months of 2023, Great Day opened 22 new greenfield locations and plans to open at least 20 more before the end of the year. Ultimately, Hoy sees Great Day operating as many as 400 locations in a few hundred markets around the country within the next five years.
“We’re still poised for more growth,” he says.
In every potential acquisition, Hoy and his team look for alignment on several levels.
“A big part of it is certainly the products and services that the potential acquisition provides; do they align with the things that we either do today or have strategically decided that we’d like to do?” he says. “But more important than that, as a business that’s been built and run by entrepreneurs, is the like-mindedness of the folks that we’re acquiring.”
With a few exceptions (like Champion Windows, which was purchased from a private equity firm), most of the businesses under the Great Day umbrella were built from the ground up by dedicated entrepreneurs.
Maintaining that entrepreneurial culture throughout the company is critical to the success of each acquisition.
“In most cases, we want the founders and management teams to stay with us and be part of the team that helps drive our overall expansion,” Hoy says. “We recognize that people are proud of the products and services they sell, and we don’t want to break the spirit or the culture, but we also want to find ways that we can be more efficient and productive.”
The first step is centralizing back-office functions like marketing and finance, which frees each business to focus on sales and operations. Over the first 90 days of an acquisition, Great Day works through a checklist of questions to better understand each business by getting to know its people, products, policies and procedures.
“At the end of 90 days, we’ve usually built enough trust and understanding of how they operate, and then we formulate a plan to harmonize the data and key performance metrics,” Hoy says. “We’re not walking in and saying, ‘We know more than you do, and this is how we do it.’ We go in asking how they do things, because maybe they do it better than us.”
Getting acquisitions integrated into Great Day’s technology stack is a critical step in managing the performance of acquired teams.
“We bring a ton of discipline and expertise around how to use data to make better decisions faster,” Hoy says. “We want to harmonize the information and data they have with our data to make sure everybody’s report card is the same [so we can see] what high performance really looks like. It tells us how we’re actually doing.”
Giving everyone a voice
Integrating data is one thing, but handling the human aspect of acquisitions is a completely different challenge. This is especially true in the homebuilding and remodeling industry, where many businesses begin as lifestyle companies founded by former carpenters who are passionate about their craft. Harnessing this entrepreneurial passion is easier said than done.
“The benefit is that you put a bunch of entrepreneurs together and they’re like-minded. The challenge with that is you put a bunch of entrepreneurs together and they’re all like-minded, so sometimes there are ego plays,” Hoy says. “These are human enterprises, so [you have to] really recognize the folks that work around you and make sure that you have the same belief systems and the same mindset.”
The first 90 days of an acquisition are critical for starting to communicate Great Day’s vision and values, while building trust. Hoy wants to set the expectation early on that “everyone is always honest with each other and feels like they can speak their mind,” he says.
For example, whenever Great Day acquires a company, Hoy tells the story of Attila the Hun. Although Attila was one of the most feared rulers of his time, he made a point to meet with his generals privately to get their input on his plans of attack.
“In the tent, everybody had a voice, and nobody was scared to say what they thought,” Hoy says. “But once an agreement was made by the majority, everybody went out and executed that. If you didn’t, they’d cut your head off.”
In a much less savage way, Hoy sets a similar expectation for his team at Great Day.
“Our culture is built around that type of collaboration,” he says. “We’ll have really difficult conversations together, where everybody’s got a say and there’s no recourse if we don’t like what you say. But once we’ve all made a collective decision, that’s what we’re going to execute.”
Hoy gives employees a voice in the company’s direction through monthly virtual town hall meetings, where he reiterates the core business strategies, highlights current initiatives and opens the floor for Q&As. These unscripted meetings, called Hanging with Hoy, give employees an opportunity to ask questions about what’s going on in the company and how it impacts them.
“We’re getting a lot of good [engagement] around the organization, and we have a couple hundred people join every month,” Hoy says. “Certainly, when you start bringing a bunch of experienced entrepreneurs together who are like-minded, it’s pretty powerful.”
When it comes to acquisitions, Hoy believes that one plus one should equal three, if not more.
“When we bring these businesses together, we have a theme of being great together, not just Great Day,” he says. “This is an opportunity for everybody who’s with us to win together.”
Fostering a collaborative culture is key to achieving that level of cohesion across all the brands under Great Day’s umbrella. But Hoy doesn’t like to think in terms of synergies, which most people equate to cost-cutting.
“It’s not our goal to come in and get synergies on day one,” he says. “Our plan is to grow.”
By embracing an entrepreneurial passion with a mindset of continuous improvement, Hoy and his team continue to make great products and services even better as the company grows. Fueled by centralized tools and technologies from Great Day’s robust centralized platform, the company is positioned for future growth.
“We’re evaluating our technology all the time and asking, ‘What is the next-generation tech for us, and how do we go about tackling it?’” Hoy says. “We also have a fairly active M&A pipeline of opportunities that we’re continually evaluating with products and services we currently offer, as well as new products and services that we’re exploring. You’ll continue to see Great Day violently execute with aggressive patience to grow quickly. This is not a synergy story; this is a growth story — and the best is still yet to come.” ●
- Centralize back-office functions so branches can focus on sales and operations.
- Strategically balance M&A opportunities with organic growth.
- Don’t crush the entrepreneurial spirit of acquired companies — embrace it.
- Give everyone a voice in company decisions, but execute in unison.
SIDEBAR | Controlling the Supply Chain
Great Day manufactures most of the products sold across its brands, which include Patio Enclosures, Stanek Windows, Champion Windows and Universal Widows Direct.
Every acquisition is an opportunity to improve the company’s overall production processes. For example, when Great Day acquired Champion Windows in December 2021, Hoy and his team took a close look at Champion’s manufacturing plant in Cincinnati. The Patio Enclosures brand already operated a similar plant in Macedonia, and both facilities were manufacturing both windows and sunrooms.
“We recognized that Champion had a better way of manufacturing windows, and Patio Enclosures had a better way of making sunrooms,” says Michael Hoy, CEO of Great Day Improvements. “So, now we make all sunrooms in Macedonia and all windows in Cincinnati.”
Of course, Great Day doesn’t manufacture every product it sells. The company also partners with various suppliers to provide the materials for each project. Balancing these components is critical to navigating supply chain challenges, Hoy says.
“We plan to continue to both make product and buy product, but we also want to be in a position so that when supply chain problems present themselves again, we’re not stuck,” he says.
During the pandemic, for example, shipping delays and long lead times affected the entire building industry. Since then, Great Day has invested in its own manufacturing capabilities while also investing in key supplier relationships. That includes “partnering a little deeper” with its best vendors and finding new vendors to support Great Day’s growth and inventory demands over time.
“We’re constantly in continuous improvement mode,” Hoy says, “so whether there’s a supply chain challenge or not, we’re going to continue to find ways to control more of our own destiny.”