Hardware Retailing magazine is the pre-eminent how-to management magazine for small business owners and managers in the home improvement retailing industry.
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April 2017 | HARDWARE RETAILING 61 That's why consumers in Austin, Texas, interested in integrating solar technologies in their homes turn to TreeHouse. Unlike their competitors, the knowledgeable staff at TreeHouse helps consumers improve the efficiency of their homes by providing expert guidance through each step of the process. In the years since the unique Texas-based business was founded, it has gained interest from national news outlets like Inc., Fast Company and The Guardian, which even nicknamed the home improvement company the "green alternative to Home Depot." While following in the footsteps of TreeHouse may not be the right move for your business, there is a lot you can learn from this best-in-class retailer. Solar energy has been a niche alternative solution for some homeowners, but technological advancements and decreasing prices have made it accessible to more consumers. TreeHouse offers knowledge and top-quality products to help homeowners power their homes efficiently for years to come. Hardware Retailing spoke with TreeHouse's vice president of operations, Graeme Waitzkin, to discuss solar energy technology, the company's approach to whole-home performance and where he envisions the future of solar technology going. On the following pages, you will learn how the market for solar technology has evolved in recent years. You'll also discover techniques TreeHouse implements to educate, sell and install solar products. Plus, Waitzkin shares his expert insights on the future of this technology so you can plan ahead. The Evolution of the Solar Energy Industry Since TreeHouse opened its doors in 2011, the original location in Austin has transitioned from a more traditional home improvement store with a layout featuring aisles for product categories to a more project-based format, which features three distinct areas: home performance, design and outdoor living. • Performance—includes everything from windows and insulation to roofing and solar energy; • Design—includes kitchen and bath, flooring and paint; • Outdoor Living—projects like rainwater harvesting. While solar energy products haven't always been part of the business, Waitzkin says the company realized that renewable energy needed to be a bigger part of the equation. "The reason we decided to add solar technology as a project offering at TreeHouse was that we wanted to provide consumers with top-notch whole-home performance," he says. "We decided if we're going to make a recommendation on how to improve the entire home, renewable energy on site has to be a part of that." Over the years, the solar industry has seen many advancements and changes that are helping it move from a home improvement niche only a small percentage of people can afford to install, to a more common energy alternative. "The price has come down significantly in regards to the materials and equipment costs, as well as the labor costs," Waitzkin says. TreeHouse is focused on bringing customers progressive products, human-centered services and leading technology under one roof. Construction on its second location in Dallas is underway.