One of the biggest names in the home repair industry is ‘58 Foundations. Its dedicated team of specialists have managed to maintain a reputation of honesty and efficiency in an industry known for questionable practices for over sixty years. However, despite all of its triumphs, the company was struggling to adapt to a rapidly changing marketplace. The competition was embracing new technology, and consumers were starting to develop new expectations.
Just when it seemed as if that would spell the end for this legacy company, a solution was on the horizon. In May 2019, CEO Kevin Coppersmith stepped in with co-owners Todd Prosan and Richard Fencil to purchase ‘58 Foundations. From there, the company has not only regained its characteristic gusto it’s known for, but it’s heading towards a bright and innovative future. Recently, we had a chance to pull up a chair and pick Kevin’s brain to learn more about how he helped turn ‘58 Foundations.
Thanks for taking the time to speak with us today. How long had you known your partners prior to your purchase of the company?
KEVIN COPPERSMITH: Todd Prosan, Richard Fencil, and I had known each other in some capacity and crossed paths many times over the years. In the specialized home contracting industry, I knew Todd when he was the General Manager of BDry Waterproofing and when I was at RESCON Restoration & Construction. Todd and Richard have both been in the basement waterproofing industry for many years.
Have you ever had to rebuild a company of this size before? What were your thoughts when undertaking this project?
COPPERSMITH: I’ve worked with other companies, but not exactly like this one. I recognized what ‘58 Foundations needed to get back on track and grow. I knew with better leadership, direction, and putting the right people in the right seats that ‘58 Foundations would be successful.
What made you all want to partner to purchase ‘58 Foundations in the first place?
COPPERSMITH: Two reasons brought us together to partner at ‘58 Foundations. The first reason was the opportunity to revitalize a 60-plus-year-old brand. This was a brand that very well may have gone out of business if we didn’t step in, and to see an old American brand disappear is a sad thought. The second reason was that the combination of our experience in restoration and waterproofing was a perfect recipe to turn ‘58 Foundations around! We knew each other’s strengths and industry knowledge. Plus, it was a fantastic opportunity for us to work together.
‘58 Foundations has quite a legacy behind it. How have you used your past experience to build upon the, for lack of a better word, foundation already set in place?
COPPERSMITH: ‘58 Foundations does have a fantastic legacy. As new owners, we decided that we would not change anything that was working. There’s more than one way to do many of the things we do, and we wanted to stay as close to the legacy of ‘58 Foundations as we could.
You said that you and the new owners haven’t changed much, but where was the company struggling that ultimately inspired your acquisition?
COPPERSMITH: We saw the greatest opportunity with leadership and marketing. Installation methods were great, and they were delivering results and solving problems. However, they simply weren’t getting in front of enough people. The leadership—and thus the company—was stuck and unable to create growth, despite the number of homeowners looking for contractors they could trust. It was in this inability to grow that we saw the opportunity to where we could revitalize this venerable brand.
How is ‘58 Foundations making an improved difference under new ownership?
COPPERSMITH: We are making a big effort to support our local communities. We are members of local Chambers of Commerce and BBB organizations where this year we’ve been a finalist and a winner of BBB’s Torch Award for Ethics. We have also committed to a quarterly “Give Back” program where we work with our partners to repair a home at no cost to a community member in need.
‘58 Foundations has four primary services revolving around basement, crawlspace, and foundation repair as well as mold removal. However, there are two other services the company offers that consumers might not be aware of: the Real Estate Agent Program and the Annual Maintenance Program. Can you tell us more about that?
COPPERSMITH: You did your homework! Our Real Estate program is for all real estate agents, either on the buying or selling side of a transaction. When it comes to fixing a home for a real estate sale, agents have different needs. There are delicate negotiations and tight deadlines. These transactions require inspections, estimates and solutions to meet closing dates. They don’t need a contractor coming into the equation overselling or making things difficult for either party. We understand these are stressful times and created a special Real Estate division to make sure that everything goes as planned.
Our Annual Maintenance program comes from necessity. We offer a lifetime warranty on our waterproofing system and other long-term warranties on other products and services we provide. To be sure that our systems are running properly, we created an Annual Maintenance program. Similar to an HVAC system’s yearly checkup, we provide our annual maintenance to ensure our systems are running at their optimal capacity.
You’ve worked on strengthening the consumer base around the company and forming something of a community— the ‘58ers. Have you ever experienced something like this in the past?
COPPERSMITH: I haven’t. We started this as an internal term for our staff members, but it started to leak out to our customers. We’ve always welcomed new customers into our family, and so calling them ‘58ers came organically.
‘58 Foundations also has several strong partnerships. How do you feel about this newest partnership with the mold-removal company Sudoc and being a Dot Ambassador?
COPPERSMITH: We feel great about this relationship! Prior to ‘58 Foundations, I was in the mold removal space and have followed the industry. I saw Sudoc making waves in mold removal by having a patented molecule used to clean mold that leaves no chemical residue behind. This was truly a breakthrough idea, and I wanted to be part of it. Being an exclusive ambassador for Sudoc fits with the service legacy of ‘58 Foundations and our commitment to provide the best products.
Do you plan on expanding in that same vein, or are you going to hold steady for now?
COPPERSMITH: We are always looking for new ways to help our customers in the below-ground space. Basement and crawlspaces are generally overlooked. So, if we can help and it makes sense based on what we know which is how water, moisture, and water vapor affect a home’s and its occupant’s health, then we will consider new opportunities.
Outside of your Sudoc partnership, how do you plan on incorporating newer technology into your current work method? Do you think that this would be a big overhaul, or are you planning on introducing gradual changes?
COPPERSMITH: We know technology and best practices are constantly changing. As long as it is something that improves our customer experience and that of our employees, we will consider it! But introducing new things always seems like a big change on the day it gets implemented and can make employees uneasy. So, we are focusing on gradually adding new technology, and we’ll make sure everyone gets involved in the process.
It’s been brought up that the company has grown significantly as of late. Tell us more about that.
COPPERSMITH: We have been growing. We were very recently recognized by Inc. as one of “The Most Successful Companies in America” in their Inc. 5000 list for 2022. This is a fantastic accomplishment being that we are in our 64th year of business and significant growth is more difficult to achieve.
The thing that fueled the growth was that ’58 Foundations had a lot of great people working for them when we bought the company in 2019. They needed stronger leadership and direction and in less than two years, they all got to work and did what they were capable of doing. Since our purchase, we’ve seen a 365% growth and have hired more than 100 people.
The pandemic broke employee and corporate morale for businesses all over. How has ‘58 Foundations ensured that everyone on every level can continue to work at maximum efficiency?
COPPERSMITH: When the pandemic closed many businesses back in April 2020, we remained open. This was the first time I think I recognized us as an essential business. People can’t and shouldn’t live with water or mold in their homes. Nor should they live with a foundation that isn’t structurally stable. We needed to be there for these homeowners, and we figured out how to stay open.
We care a lot for our staff and our customers. For the first month or so of the pandemic, we held daily Zoom meetings so everyone could express their concerns and we could collectively support each other. We were fogging our offices and our vehicles with antimicrobials. We would do the same as we left a customer’s house to be careful that we wouldn’t leave the virus behind.
‘58 Foundations currently has twelve locations and maintains a positive reputation in each. How does it feel to be behind a company with such a strong presence?
COPPERSMITH: It’s certainly something we’re proud of. The real credit goes to the teams who are out working at our customer’s houses day in and day out. They do a great job and take pride in their work. Of course, we are going to make mistakes, but we stand behind everything we do and make it right.
You and the other co-founders have gained a better understanding of the culture behind ’58 Foundations now that you’re all working together to build its future. How have your thoughts changed from your initial purchase to now, if at all?
COPPERSMITH: The longevity of ‘58 Foundations and how many customers and warranties we have, forces us to think in different, maybe more responsible ways than other contractors. This thinking around responsibility to our customers has been strengthened since the initial purchase.
What are you personally most excited about going forward?
COPPERSMITH: I’m always excited for the future. We want to continue to find ways to make it easier for our customers to solve their problems and plan to keep getting as close to on-demand delivery of our services as possible. It’s what consumers want. Growth is exciting and maybe not for the reasons most people think. Sure, growth brings more money to the business, but it’s what you can do with that money that is exciting.
This year, we started a scholarship fund for continued education. We focus on awarding the scholarship to people who want to build skills that can help home service businesses grow and thrive. We call this the ‘58 Foundations Achievers Scholarship Fund. We had more than 200 applicants, and I was hugely impressed with the work put into these applications. Hopefully next year, we can increase the amount of the scholarships or the number of recipients.
We’ve also been able to offer great jobs to more than 100 people and strengthen our communities from within. It’s things like this, helping the local community, that get me excited to build the business.
Finally, any advice for companies or entrepreneurs who struggle to adapt to change? What is something they could avoid or look out for that would give them a better edge?
COPPERSMITH: Whatever business you think you’re in, you’re not. You’re in the people business. You’re in the business of delighting your customers, of providing long-term maintenance and support. Changing your way of thinking in this direction will make a world of difference to your employees and your customers.
Thank you to Kevin Coppersmith for talking with us about ‘58 Foundations. For more information about the company, please visit https://58foundations.com/.
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