Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Handyman Business Explodes Thanks to Catchy Name

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Handyman Business Explodes Thanks to Catchy Name

Article excerpt

PORTLAND, Maine -- Back when he was jobless, nearly broke and sleeping in a friend's warehouse along the waterfront, three words turned Kaile Warren Jr.'s life around:

"Rent A Husband."

Three years later, Warren has parlayed that catchy name into a lucrative handyman business with 26 franchises nationwide and two in the United Kingdom. He received a $260,000 advance from Doubleday for co-writing a book about the handyman business, and is preparing to go on a 15-city promotional tour to launch the book late this year. "It's a dramatic life change," says Warren, a former construction worker. "An average day for me now is a lot of travel. I've gained a lot of weight from it." With 400 employees and projected revenues of $8 million, it's unlikely Warren will ever have to sleep in a warehouse again. When he's not promoting his business, much of his time is spent sifting through thousands of franchise applications. Warren admits part of his success comes from the name. When his workers report for duty, they use the standard introduction to female customers: "I'm your husband for the day." But another factor, he says, is an emphasis on "plain common sense and decency" in an industry replete with horror stories of contractors who never show up for work on time, fail to complete jobs or leave behind slipshod work. "He makes you feel like a friend right off," says Dawn-Marie Bernard, who had rented Warren and another "husband" to clean her garage in Westbrook. "You don't get that from a lot of people nowadays, not from people in this industry." Warren says 95 percent of the company's customers are women or the elderly. The demographics explain the success of the name, which Warren chose during a moment of inspiration in May 1996 when he was down and out. "The ladies absolutely go nuts over it," he says. "It sticks in a lady's head and they never forget it." Warren says the pileup of unfinished tasks around the home is more than a trifling annoyance for many. Industry observers say longer workweeks and more dual-income households have made the country ripe for reliable companies that help with tasks that some people never seem to get around to completing. …

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