Small Business Spotlight

Keeping it simple at Simple Bath Ohio

From the August 2014 issue of Columbus CEO

Simple Bath Ohio begins its remodeling projects with a consultation held—fittingly—in the bathroom.

An on-site meeting provides a look at the space being transformed, as well as helpful insight into the lives of customers and their families, says Mary Rubin, who owns the Columbus-based company and personally handles many of the initial consultations.

Before making recommendations on design or décor, Rubin gathers some important details. She’ll ask a series of questions along these lines: Who uses this bathroom? How long do you plan to stay here? What’s working the way you like, and what isn't?

“We take it from there,” Rubin says. “Age and family ‘stage’ matter a lot. And who might move into or out of the house in the future matters, too. We take everything into consideration.”

Often, the discussion centers as much on function as it does on form, Rubin adds.

“It’s not just about opening the door to the bathroom and saying, ‘We can make it look this way,’ ” Rubin says. “You really have to know why. Making it look pretty, honestly, is the easy part.”

Since Rubin, 54, purchased Simple Bath Ohio in 2012, her customer-centric approach has helped to rapidly grow business across central Ohio. She and her staff remodel between 500 and 600 bathrooms annually, averaging 10 or more projects per week. Sales are booming: Revenue jumped to $3.8 million last year, up from $1.8 million during Rubin’s first year of ownership and around $800,000.

The company provides complete bathroom remodeling services with a custom touch and focuses on projects that fit within the general footprint of an existing bathroom, Rubin says.

“It’s amazing what we can actually do to increase space, functionality, storage—everything, without a really invasive remodel,” Rubin says. “The only thing we don’t do is tile work in the wet space.” Instead, the company uses a custom-made, solid-surface material that prevents mold and mildew and needs little maintenance.

Rubin says she saw an opportunity to fill a void in the marketplace and has since carried through her vision to offer customers personalized service that’s also affordable.

Projects range from updating bath fixtures and finishes to a total room overhaul.

Rubin’s remodeling costs typically average $8,500 to $12,000, Rubin says. She contends her charges tend to run 60 to 75 percent of what comparable work by a full-scale design/build firm might cost.

“I just don’t think that the average person with the average bathroom thought they could afford a custom remodel,” she adds. “People are so happy when they find us and they’re happy when they discover what we do.”

Rubin, whose diverse career path has encompassed interior design, marketing, advertising and fundraising, admits she never dreamed of owning her own bathroom remodeling business. But after leaving her job in radio advertising, she began working as a part-time designer for Simple Bath Ohio in August 2011. Several months later, the owner decided to sell the company and approached Rubin to ask if she might be interested in buying it. She quickly said yes.

“It was a perfect storm of amazing coincidence,” Rubin says. “I saw something that had amazing untapped potential, and I had a belief and commitment that I could be the person capable of implementing the change for the better.”

Customer service has been top priority under Rubin’s leadership, says Tony Fenice, production manager.

The company welcomes customers to its showroom, but, ultimately, “the best way to look at a bathroom and do what the customer needs is to be in their bathroom to see it,” Fenice says. He visits every bath prior to construction and measures all materials needed.

He notes that bathrooms can be among the most expensive areas to remodel in a home, but that Rubin’s approach makes the process attainable for many customers.

“She’s doing what’s in their budget, with what they’re asking for. It just works,” Fenice says. “We’re not a high-pressure sales company.”

The company’s team of installers takes pride in working quickly and neatly, and is motivated by positive feedback from customers, Fenice adds.

In 2012 and 2013, Simple Bath Ohio earned the Angie’s List Super Service Award—an honor presented to roughly five percent of all companies rated on Angie’s List—and also received a 2013 Consumers’ Choice Award.

Diane Roof of Dublin hired Simple Bath Ohio earlier this year to renovate the master bathroom in the home where she and her husband have lived for the past 27 years.

Roof says she loves everything about the newly-refreshed space—the glass shower, floor, vanity and more.

She was equally pleased with how smoothly the project was executed.

“They took it down to the studs and replaced everything,” Roof says. Construction was completed in two days, followed up with another visit for some finishing touches.

“Everyone who entered our home treated it with respect, treated us with respect,” Roof says. “The job was completed exactly as they said. The whole experience was just a positive.”

Dana Wilson is a freelance writer.