Zionsville-based Apex Energy Solutions is planning to expand its business model by franchising.
The energy-efficient window company, founded in 1998, has converted its existing 15 market licensees into franchisees and plans to expand into 50 to 100 more U.S. locations during the next 18 months.
Apex, a $30 million business that expects to continue its long-running trend of double-digit growth this year, is headquartered at 11644 N. Michigan Road in a 1924 home that the company renovated in 2011 to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards.
Founder and CEO Michael Foit said the company previously looked to offer franchises around 2008, which he admits was poor timing due to the economic downturn.
“The idea was 30 cities in five years… I even had T-shirts printed up,” Foit said. “We obviously didn’t hit that goal.”
However, the company did manage to establish licensed operations in 15 states, including Colorado, Tennessee, Utah and Texas.
Now, Foit is considering another 50 to 100 markets, even though one consultant told him Apex could do well in 200 to 300 markets.
“I think my hair instantly started turning gray when he said that,” Foit said. “We don’t want to be too big, or too small. We don’t need an Apex on every corner.”
The company recently launched in Tampa, Florida and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Each franchise includes a territory with a 75-mile radius.
Foit said owners wanted to convert the business from providing licensing options to franchising to provide more consistency with products and technology in every market.
“We were constantly updating our technology,” Foit said. “We needed to change the model to offer more support.”
In November, Apex invited all previous market license holders to a summit in Spencer, where the company presented the opportunity to make the transition into franchise owners.
“We were expecting some pushback… because they were used to doing things a certain way,” Foit said. “We didn’t get any resistance.”
All 15 made the transition.
The initial fee for an Apex franchise is $25,000, plus territory fees ranging from $35,000 to $75,000. The total initial investment is estimated at $95,850 to $195,500.
Foit trademarked the “Flipside” sales approach, which involves finding a “promotional home” to install the company’s windows and using that home as an advertisement for the surrounding neighborhood, which reduces the need for paid advertisements and keeps prices low for consumers.
The company also has a patented app technology that identifies potential customers and engages them in the purchasing process.
According to the company’s website, Apex has 12,000 customers and has installed nearly 155,000 solar controlled, triple-paned units. Foit said business increased by 78 percent in 2015 and 56 percent in 2014.
“We’re just really excited about the future,” Foit said.