It’s easy for Dave Thrasher to walk a mile in the work boots of contractors his flourishing company helps.
The president of Omaha-based Supportworks only needs to remember his childhood.
“I grew up seeing how hard it is for an entrepreneur with everything on his shoulders,” says Thrasher, whose parents Greg and Nancy started Thrasher Basement Systems in 1975. “My dad worked all the time to keep it all going.
“He was that guy laying awake at night wondering how to make payroll next month.”
Thrasher and his growing team of 90 employees are building a company out of its Papillion headquarters that serves more than 120 contractor-dealers who are just like his dad back in the day. Supportworks develops and outsources the manufacturing of foundation, basement, and concrete repair products that contractor-dealers buy into exclusively. One of Supportworks’ biggest hitters has been a concrete-leveling product and process—PolyLevel—that took off almost by accident.
Supportworks created an instructional video on the product that was “so poorly produced, we think that’s why it went viral,” Thrasher says. The YouTube video got more than 100 million views in five weeks, and Supportworks was flooded every day with hundreds of dealer applications.
PolyLevel has supported massive reconstruction projects across the U.S. and Canada. Supportworks dealers worked with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority to secure tracks that were in danger of derailing trains, and with the Delaware Department of Transportation to lift miles of Interstate Highway. PolyLevel was even used to repair every sidewalk around the New York Mets’ Citi Field.
“We got a ton of brand recognition, and millions of people coast to coast wanted the product to fix their cracking driveways,” Thrasher says.
But the driver of Supportworks’ business model is the consulting services it offers for free in exchange for a contractor’s purchasing loyalty.
The 10-year-old company shows contractors the ropes on core business services such as answering prospect calls, closing a sale, and giving customers a “wow” experience. Dealers can also get assistance with brand strategy, inventory management, accounting, and human resources.
Supportworks has even invested in an in-house creative team of 25 web developers, graphic designers, videographers, and copywriters who produce anything from a business card to a television ad.
“Many of our dealers are grinding it out and great at their trade, but they don’t have business training,” says Thrasher, who learned the ins-and-outs as his parents’ company outgrew the family basement. “We want to stretch the bandwidth of that business owner and help them grow their $1 million business to $30 million.”
It’s working. Supportworks has grown by more than 10 percent every year since launching in 2008 and hit a high of more than $120 million in revenue in 2017. As its largest dealer-customer, sister company Thrasher—run by Thrasher’s brother, Dan—serves as perfect proving ground for Supportworks’ products and services.
“We know the challenges our customers face because we see it in our own backyard,” Thrasher says. “When you help someone grow their business and help them solve their most complex business problems, they are eternally grateful and reward you with deep loyalty.”
Supportworks is now exploring other home construction verticals, such as guttering or fencing, where it can apply its successful dealer consultant business model.
“We think there are hundreds more contractors out there that we can help solve their biggest problems,” Thrasher says.
Visit supportworks.com for more information.
This article was printed in the June/July 2018 edition of B2B.