EncoreGarage is an apt name for Tony Scaletta’s garage renovation business.
“We started our company back in 2006 after trying to get my own garage organized,” explained Scaletta. “Initially we purchased a franchise called PremierGarage and had a territory that included the entire Chicago metro area. Just a few years later the nation experienced a downturn in home improvement spending because of the housing bubble.
Unfortunately, the franchisor was not able to weather the storm and filed for bankruptcy. After the PremierGarage name was purchased by another party as part of the bankruptcy sale, we found ourselves without a name and having to rebrand our company. I came up with the name EncoreGarage and rebranding came easily to me because of my background in creative design. Once we launched our new brand, some of the other former PremierGarage franchisees contacted me and asked to license the brand. EncoreGarage is currently represented in several U.S. markets.”
Today, Scaletta’s company is based in East Dundee, Illinois and serves the entire Chicago area. “We offer full design and installation services and tackle projects of all sizes, scopes, and budgets.” The company uses advanced 3D CAD design capabilities with its high-resolution software to allow clients an intricate and precise view of what the garage makeover will look like when completed.
Asked what about his company is unique, Scaletta explained, “We set ourselves apart from other garage enhancement companies in our market because we are the only company focusing solely on the garage space who does complete in-house manufacturing. Our in-house manufacturing capabilities also allow us to take on larger projects and get far more creative with our designs, especially when it comes to surfacing materials. Besides common high performance and thermally fused laminates, we are just as comfortable working with cabinet surfacing materials like metal laminate or glossy acrylics.”
Scaletta added that his company offers special trim and molding details, which also set them apart. “As have integrated LED interior cabinet lighting as well as under cabinet lighting features. While we pride ourselves on creating functional and organized garages, aesthetics of the overall space is a big part of what we do. In addition to making cabinets look great, we are also experienced in treating surrounding wall surfaces using unique materials like embossed aluminum or molded plastic panels,” he added.
Regarding flooring, which Scaletta describes as a major growth area in garage renovations, the company is “taking on new challenges all the time, like a multi-color metallic flooring system with embedded logos.”
Scaletta said a trend in garage renovations in general and especially in higher-end homes is a redefinition of garages. “The garage is being redefined and viewed as an important room in the home. Our customers want the garage to represent the look and feel of the rest of the home. The trend we see is for ‘garage stuff’ to be enclosed in cabinets, just like the kitchen. Homeowners want the space to feel finished, neat and organized. Clients seem to want to ‘hide’ things in cabinets as much as possible. If items need to be hung on walls because of size, customers want the items still to look as neat and organized as possible.”
Regarding flooring, Scaletta said the trend is towards UV stable technology which prevents yellowing and discoloration due to sunlight. “We find customers leaning more towards thicker systems that are applied over two days and take a bit longer to cure because they provide a more durable, long-lasting system. This is opposed to a typical Polyurea one-day system that gives a quick return to service but is not as strong.
However, EncoreGarage has been working exclusively with their material manufacture on the development of a new one-day system called FlexCore1 which uses an advanced Flexible Membrane Polymer for the base coat, that can be applied thick, has superior bonding properties, is super flexible and cures quick. This will allow a one-day system that has the same strength and durability as our two-day systems. A big trend is metallic epoxy systems. The completed floor looks like a piece of artwork that is stunning, abstract and completely unique. The palette of available colors and the ability to combine colors and effects provide a wide array of options for homeowners. The texture can be controlled with slip-resistant grip to make these floors safe in a garage.”
Scaletta said changes he’s seeing now versus before include people mixing different colors for slatwall to create stripes to do different patterns on the wall or mixing colors in cabinetry.
“We see instances of mixing finishes or colors, where you might use one finish on the fronts of the cabinets and a different finish on the sides. Or you have a set of drawer cabinets with three base cabinets with two drawers in each one. You might use a gray box for the cabinet and an accent color of red or blue for the drawer fronts. People are getting bolder with garage design and they have a wide range of options.”
EncoreGarage tackles a wide variety of projects for its customers. One of the company’s recent projects was for a homeowner with two 3-car garages and one 8-car space.
“All of the garage floors were done with metallic epoxy systems. We integrated two giant Mopar logos in the floor of the 8-car space. We constructed our garage grade cabinets for the 3-car spaces using a Dolce Vita melamine finish paired with extra thick Light Maple applied end panels and Top Panels,” explained Scaletta. “In the larger space, we built our garage grade cabinets in a workbench configuration using Reflekt Acrylic panels in Metal Gray as the surface material with Brushed Stainless edge banding. The workbench was completed with above counter recessed LED lighting and a real Butcher Block countertop.”
Scaletta said most of the company’s more elaborate projects are done in newer homes. “I would say for flooring, the split is probably 40 percent older, 60 percent newer homes, with cabinets and floor/cabinet combo projects it is 20 percent older and 80 percent newer homes.” He added it’s difficult to talk prices because installations vary in scope and size. On the lower end, a renovation can cost around $10,000 with higher end work costing $25,000.
Scaletta said business is better now because of the improved economy, but also because the demand for garage enhancement has been increasing.
“Floor coatings in garages seem to be something that has become more commonplace. I liken it to granite in kitchens. For a time most everyone had laminate countertops and eventually, you saw a switch to granite and other upscale counters. Now it is common for most new homes to feature granite counters and coatings on garage flooring is becoming the same. We see people thinking of the garage as another room in the home as opposed to a shed to store cars and junk.”
Asked about the popularity of the 'Man Cave' Scaletta replied, “It is still popular, especially if the garage is divided into two separate spaces. What we are seeing more of is a “Family Cave” garage scenario. These days everybody uses the garage in some way. In an active family, you might have 4-6 people all with different needs. They all have different things to store and different ways they might use the space.”
EncoreGarage employs 15 on staff. “The staff includes a shop crew, with about 3 employees who handle the manufacturing of cabinetry. The crew leader sometimes goes onsite to help our installers. We have two cabinet installers and a general manager/operations manager who keeps the lid on everything. At any one time, we might have half a dozen projects going on. Our projects tend to be more detailed so there’s a lot of little things to keep under control. We also have people who handle flooring installation. About 40 percent of our work is full makeovers with the other 60 percent involving flooring alone.”
Scaletta said that because they do their own manufacturing, they can offer a wider range of products. “In the early days, there wasn’t the incredible number of choices. For cabinetry, I would say 90 percent sold then was made of maple.”
The shop includes some high-tech equipment, including a CNC machining center for manufacturing nested parts and an edgebander, both from SCM. Additional major equipment includes a sliding table saw.
Scaletta remains very involved in all aspects, including sales calls, which are more design consultations. “My background is in creative design. I used to own a film and video company. A lot of my experience is self-taught, plus I have an eye for doing clean layout and design work.”
Scaletta thinks homeowners, especially in his area, need to look at all the options for garages enhancement, including heating for a garage that isn’t already heated. “The other thing people are paying more attention to is lighting. Before, a garage usually had two or three little bulb lights. With LED you can get very nice fixtures with a high luminal output that are relatively inexpensive but make a huge difference.”
Scaletta believes anyone considering a garage renovation should realize that the garage is typically the first thing you see entering a home and the last thing exiting. “It should be functional but also look pleasing. A garage makeover is an excellent way to add value, fun, and beauty.”
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