Empty Nest to Full Succcess
It’s a nontraditional story for a nontraditional business. For St. Louis residents Bob and Christina Urberger, who were looking to become first-time business owners, an interesting catalyst drove them to make the journey into entrepreneurship.
When their college-aged son’s internship at Elon Musk’s SpaceX in California went from a university credit to a full-time position, the Urbergers looked around their home in St. Louis and realized that for the first time in decades, they had an empty nest. Bob was a broadcast engineer, focusing on technology installation for corporate clients. Meanwhile, Christina had a diverse background of design, running a construction company, developing an internal team at Anheuser-Busch, and creative problem solving. She had also sold furniture as a passion for her entire adult life.
What was next? Bob and Christina put their heads together and decided it was time to have something new they could call their own. After a call with Cortney Sells, President of The Firm Advisors, they were introduced to a professional business located three hours to the west, in Kansas City. A month to the day after their initial call, they met The Firm’s broker at Interior Landscapes in KC’s Crossroads Arts District and introduced themselves to the company’s current owner, Mike Hodes.
Hodes hailed from a diverse background himself, working in several different industries and having multiple business partners before eventually becoming the sole owner of Interior Landscapes. With his own life changing, and his adult
children already “contributing to the GDP” in their own ways, it was time to wind down and find a transition plan for the company he had built with his team. It felt like kismet. Bob and Christina were impressed with not only the quality
of the work and their clients, but the strength of the company’s financial history and the employees who each treated the business as if it were their own. Founded in 2004, Interior Landscapes provides modern furnishing solutions
for clients small and large during renovations or after new construction. Their furniture can be found all over the Kansas City area and beyond, from schools in Topeka to medical facilities in Lee’s Summit.
The opportunity made sense, but there was one challenge left: bank financing. It was a strong company, the buyers were qualified, and the business was profitable enough to give Bob and Christina a comfortable lifestyle in a new city; however, Interior Landscapes did not have significant hard assets to collateralize a traditional commercial bank loan. As is the case with many service-based businesses, the inventory was custom-ordered for each job, sometimes sitting in storage for months while the plumbers, electricians, and other contractors did rest of their build-out work.
“Furniture is the last to go in, so sometimes we end up waiting,” said Hodes.
After being denied by two banks due to the very nature of the blue sky business, the Urbergers worked with US Bank to find an acceptable financing solution. At the end of 2018, the company was theirs. They got to work quickly to learn
the day-in and day-out of running Interior Landscapes, with the help of Hodes and the incredibly strong team he had built.
“I can’t say enough good things about this team,” Christina exclaimed. “They really made us feel like part of the family.”
The new owners were now in the driving seat of a well-oiled machine. The changes in the business were few, as Hodes completed a six-month transition period. The Urbergers celebrated his retirement with a party for clients and staff alike in September.
Since the deal closing over a year ago, the company saw revenues increase and completed several large projects, such as the Jardine Elementary/ Middle School for the Topkea Public School District. Interior Landscapes’ next big endeavor is the Wyandotte County Juvenile Justice Center, a new construction project on which they are the lead furniture supplier.
How are the Urbergers feeling after their relocation to Kansas City? They’re thrilled that their favorite city for a day trip from St. Louis has become their new home. Christina is ecstatic.
“KC is such an up-and-coming, vibrantcity. The restaurants! I can’t get over how good the restaurants are.”